How is it possible I did not notice my tiny handwriting? That is, until one day in 2012 I tried to write big. When a colleague was running late, she asked me to write a note on the chalk board so students would wait for her. I was shocked when I discovered I could not write big. I erased and slowly started again. I managed to get a message scrawled on the board.
Most of my writing was composing documents and emails at the keyboard from 2011-2013. Rarely did I write long hand except for lists, checks, and journal. Since those tasks were done quickly, I did not pay attention to how neat or legible the end results were. But subtle changes were brewing in my fingers.
Tiny Handwriting and Tendonitis
Over a two-year period, my handwriting got tinier and almost illegible. Joe commented that he often had trouble reading notes that I left for him. I could barely read my miniature handwritten “To Do” lists. Still I was not alarmed. I thought my problem was caused by tendonitis in right elbow. Even an orthopedic doctor thought so as well.
My Handwriting in 2012….Tiny and Cramped
When it was time to prepare handwritten Thanksgiving cards for the faculty in 2012, I enlisted the help of my graduate assistants. They wrote the message. I signed fifty cards.
When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014, I learned what had happened to my handwriting. The basal ganglia are a group of neurons located deep in the brain that process information on movement such as using my hand to write with a pen. As the disease progresses, the basal ganglia weaken causing difficulty. Small and cramped handwriting known as micrographia results. It is often an early secondary motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease for some people. I would have never guessed! Later primary motor symptoms such as slowness of movement, tremor, and rigidity contribute to writing challenges.
To Be Continued: Handwriting Therapy
Question: How has Parkinson’s affected your handwriting?