Cardiac Kids

Researchers in the UK find that working long hours can be hazardous to your health:

A long-term study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, surveyed nearly 7,100 British workers for 11 years and found that working more than 11 hours a day increased the risk of heart disease by 67 percent, compared with the standard 7 to 8 hours a day.

This report hits home for me. I work the long hours like many other VFX artists. I noticed my left hand often going numb and getting cold. The doctor revealed I was developing a heart condition.

I’ve also developed back problems. I had trouble turning my head while driving and saw a specialist. He took a photo of my back to show that my spine was skewing to the right because of so much time spent hunched over a keyboard.

I’m actually a pretty athletic guy. I played some high endurance sports in high school, was an avid runner in college, and have even trained with the US Marine Corp. These days I just don’t have time to fit all that into the daily equation.

I’ve always accepted the fact that we all grow old and our health will deteriorate but I’m amused how quickly that has happened for me. I’ve worked less than 10 years in the industry and already seeing the signs of what will be a serious heart condition. Given that we are seeing our first generation of VFX artists reaching their 50’s, the future seems imperfect for those of us in the states who are unable to afford health insurance. The cost only rises with age and compounds the problem when you choose to have a family.

Now my threshold for pain is pretty good. I love pain but I never looked at working long hours as something to be proud of. I often run into people in the industry who brag about how they are able to endure such long hours and ask for more. I don’t look at it as a badge of honor, I look at it as someone trying make up for some other shortcomings.

It seems for the most part we suspect these problems along with others such as collusion and pregnancy discrimination will solve themselves. I’ll be waiting.

Soldier On.

3 Responses to Cardiac Kids

  1. Dave Rand says:

    My father died at 33 yrs old from a heart attack in the middle of the night. He was an engineer working for NASA during the space race that evolved when the Russians beat us into orbit.

    Long hours and stress killed him and some others and that story has continued in many professions. It is up to the individual to realize “To Thine Own Self Be True”. In that light there is no shame is speaking out and working towards a better life away from 100 hr weeks. Chose it for yourself but also you can be part of choosing it for the industry.

    It’s not surprising that NASA engineers now are unionized
    http://nhpa.org/

  2. […] artists going through injuries exacerbated by conditions at work. A month ago I even admitted that I was developing a heart condition at a premature […]

  3. […] Lee Stranahan mentioned that he had to leave the industry because of health reasons. He was diabetic and going blind. Some cannot attain private health insurance in their 50′s. Look at this long thread on CGTalk by young artists suffering from work related injuries. I also mentioned that I was developing a heart condition. […]

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