The Handwriting on the Wall

Patient Expert

First impressions mean so much. That's why every morning I take the time to apply makeup, fix my hair, and choose appropriate clothing. I do that because I believe that appearances do count for something.

Handwriting forms an impression as well -- just ask any handwriting expert. I used to have fairly decent handwriting. Not so anymore. In fact, I often cannot recognize or decipher my own handwriting. I'd like to know what an expert would make of it all.

It started about a year ago and I'm not sure what the cause is, but I am sure it has to do with multiple sclerosis. It could be the general weakness, fatigue, twitching, or a combination of things, but I have a noticeable lack of control when I write, resulting in a crooked, childish scrawl.

When time or fatigue are not at issue, I can print quite nicely, although my hand tires easily. Like most things MS-related, my ability to write legibly comes and goes. Consequently, I have several different styles of penmanship and signatures. I'm pretty sure that at some point, my signature on a legal document will be called into question.

It's a small matter, really, and my efficiency at the keyboard hasn't suffered any, but it is not without significance. It is one more item I must add to the growing list of ways that MS is reshaping my life -- another loss of an every day task formerly taken for granted.

As MS patients, we know about loss, great and small. Seeing, hearing, speaking... running, walking, standing... driving, earning a living, signing on the dotted line... all contribute to the ever present threat to independence.

Maybe that's why each new item on the list, no matter how small, causes us to cringe. We view it as another step toward that uncertain future we all fear, but hope will not come to pass. Dwelling on the worst case scenario does us no good, so we force these thoughts to the furthest recesses of the mind. We focus on today, and the abilities we have here and now, in a natural expression of self-defense. Or is it defiance?

Think about the people you know who are living with MS, the ones you've met online and here on this site. Most are pushing ahead, living life to the fullest, working around disabilities and finding fulfillment in the present.

The handwriting may be on the wall... but it's a bit fuzzy.