A hand struggles to write in a journal while a ghostly hand from the past writes with ease. Progressing symptoms. Handwriting

The Hurt of Horrible Handwriting

Parkinson’s disease (PD) has taken a lot from me as a person. It is definitely more of a taker than a giver in that sense. Some of the things it has taken away from me include:

  1. My mobility
  2. My dignity
  3. My career and financial autonomy
  4. My friendships
  5. My ability to plan and predict my day
  6. My sleep ability

This list is not exhaustive. I am not naive. I understand as the disease progresses, so will the list of losses that I encounter. The list will become more gruesome and more painful to witness and bear. But alas, that is the nature of this beast.

Mourning micrographia

Evidently, the losses listed above are the more obvious ones. But, one loss that I have encountered which was most unexpected is losing the ability to write.

Do not underestimate the grief this single loss can carry. The fancy schmancy medical mumbo-jumbo term for this is micrographia, which loosely interprets to mean smaller handwriting. But that is not entirely accurate. It is not just smaller in size ... it is just plain hideous handwriting now.1

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The loss of journalling

In my experience with PD, over the years, my ability to write has been destroyed by this disease. Parkinson’s had a dastardly impact on my handwriting. A bitter, bitter blow indeed. In my head, when I hold a pen and attempt to write, I delude myself into thinking I still retain the fluency, calligraphic style, and panache I once had. But what appears on the paper fills me with disgust and disdain.

My handwriting nowadays is an illegible drunken scrawl. Indecipherable to me and to anyone else who is unlucky enough to read it. Hieroglyphics is easier to read than the gobbledygook I produce with a pen.

From the age of 16, I fastidiously maintained the art of journaling. I found it provided a therapeutic benefit for me and I always found joy in revisiting old entries and tracing the emotional experiences I had encountered. But with the aggressive appearance of micrographia, I have had my passion for journaling thwarted and stolen from me.

There is no substitute for handwriting

I recall being able to write so beautifully once upon a time. My letters were clear, curvy, and lucid. Ks looked like Ks. Gs looked like Gs ... yadda, yadda. Whereas now my writing looks like a 2-year-old child's illegible scribbles. You would never guess that the writer of those (supposed) words has a degree and a Master's in Education. The writing looks more like the ramblings of an utterly mad person *sob*.

Admittedly, I could adapt and pivot and continue my love of chronicling my emotions and experiences by using a computer. But there is something almost visceral and grounding in holding and swirling a pen on paper.

It is a kinaesthetic experience, which is immensely rewarding and cathartic. It is akin to reading and handling a physical book, rather than reading one on an E-reader. There is no adequate substitute for it.

Is there a solution?

Whenever I get exasperated by my basic inability to write legibly. I often find myself wondering ... is there a solution to my problem? If man can visit the moon, then surely there must be some sort of gadget or gizmo which can help resuscitate and enliven my former (dormant) ability to write.

Perhaps, I need to create a new neural pathway for my writing ability. I must accept the old pathway is defunct and has withered away and therefore I must relearn the crucial skill of being able to write. But is that even a possibility?

Taking valuable things for granted

Nevertheless, there is a lesson in all this. Parkinson’s loves teaching me life lessons whether I like it or not. The truth is, I took my ability to write for granted. I picked up a pen, swirled it, and clear and coherent words magically appeared. I assumed that this would be a lifelong ability that I would possess.

How could I possibly lose this? But, it is only by losing it, that I have been able to truly cultivate sincere and genuine gratitude for the gift of this skill. But why is it that I have to lose something before I can fully comprehend the true worth of that thing? Why can’t I value something before l lose it?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ParkinsonsDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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