Letter to no one/Handwriting practice

This letter was written by hand on Sunday 20th April 2014, in a shiny blue notebook used originally for work-related scribblings and important meeting doodles.

Dear Whoever,

I’ve started this like a letter because I feel somehow that it being a letter gives it more purpose, even though it is a letter to no one, that will never be received by anyone, therefore surely negating its purpose as a letter? Saying that, this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve written a letter with absolutely no intention of sending it to anyone, least of all the person it was addressed to; my teenage years could be documented entirely through angsty diary entries and unsent tear-stained letters.
So although we’ve now established that the letter type layout serves little purpose, be assured that the actual writing of the letter is important. In this case it’s not a cathartic process, it’s something to do with when roughly six weeks ago I ended up in hospital paralysed from my tits to my toes. Just before the scrub-clad doctors wheeled me backwards into the MRI coffin for a spinal scan I was asked to sign a document that possibly involved me agreeing to have my brain fried in the name of research. I honestly had no idea what I was signing. I wasn’t really in a good place mentally, I was going blind in my left eye and it doesn’t really matter because it wasn’t my signature anyway. Suddenly, as I aimed for the dotted line, I realised I couldn’t write. My usual floaty looks-nothing-like-my-name ornate autograph became a tiny angular H followed by the L-e-a-r of the seven year old dyslexic boy that had clearly possessed my right hand.
Up until then I was only aware that my legs didn’t work and my torso was going numb. I hadn’t realised that something wasn’t right with my arms – they felt fine. I let the MRI Machine of Certain Death consume me and whiled away the following hour of clicks and buzzes and whirring, wondering where the paralysis would stop. How long until my arms are numb? What happens if your lungs go? How about my heart? I could only hope that if I lost the power of speech, my brain would go as well. Imagine a life communicating via eye movements, with my blind left eye. Nope. There is way too much going on in my brain for that. I’d rather be brain dead.
I over think things don’t I?
Anyway, the reason I’m writing this is to practice my handwriting. I never did lose the use of my arms and as I’m sure my mother will tell you I certainly haven’t lost the ability to speak. I’ve even got most of my vision back. But when I put pen to paper it’s… awkward. What I picture in my mind doesn’t naturally flow into existence. It jigs about and gets stuck sometimes and at others has a mind of its own. So I’m practicing. I’m trying not to think so hard. But I want my writing back. It wasn’t the neatest or most elegant. But it was mine. And it was swirly and I always did my capital e’s wrong and crossed my t’s a little over-enthusiastically. You don’t realise how much a part of your identity your handwriting is until it’s gone. And you don’t realise how much you need to write a letter to no one until you do it.

Yours cathartically,

(It’s still not right).


4 responses to “Letter to no one/Handwriting practice

    • I’m sorry you’re struggling with writing too. Do you practice? I’ve started writing blogs by hand again before typing them up, though they sometimes do get to a point where I can’t read it properly so have to be careful!

  1. Ah Helen…preachin to the choir! Mine has not been mine for years….struggled for years just thinking I really wrote as poorly as all those jr high and high school teachers said I did. (Imagine ALL of them being right? Couldn’t be.) Honestly I range from carving my writing when doing poorly- often tearing the paper. This happens after the phase where I can’t grasp and press without the pen abandoning like a skydiver in a crashing plane. It seems the more intent I am ,the more I overcompenmsate -hence the carving. Sometimes I see a peak of my old writing. It never stays. Usually within a few lines the muscles say forget this . Let the neurons have their way with us and bam it becomes smaller with an occasional tall letter or line that flies off the paper. Now and then the pen stays in one spot for a few letters, my contribution to modern art. The worst is when someone is silly enough to ask me to read something I wrote. Well it isn’t that I have been blessed with breaking code. “Don’t you remember what you wrote?” Well if I did I might still be able to be the nurse I once was!! Since I don’t remember if I took my meds or gave my dog her meds, chances are some random bit written down is likely to escape me- unless it was in the far distant past where retrieval may stand a chance.
    I feel a familiarity as I read of your struggles. A lot sounds like the years of the health roller coaster I too have ridden. I too went through the “MRI is fine- except for this spot- but who knows? COuld be nothing at all. If it grows rapidly ,we will biopsy.” Don’t hold your breath I thought. Years later I found the lesion which went through 3 vertebral span was likely multiple smaller ones that joined. They have since come and gone. A minor tumor believed to be filled with blood vessels that they feel is probably best left alone than to risk bleeding out and the problems that may happen from that high level in spine…yeah too used to breathing without a ventilator. Oh yes, years later found out the doctors who reassured me that it couldn’t be ms, well, they actually diagnosed that it ilikely was…and they turned out to be right…with thinking it was.I have atypical lesions I was told. Very very frustrating path to diagnosis and actual treatment. It is amazing how many of us feel a validation upon being diagnosed that there is a physical cause other than the insanity or depression they try to tell us is the cause. After having gone through pain management therapy with a shrink and having individual counseling, the doctor eventually said that while I was a nice person, the financial burden inflicted on me was totally wasteful given my stress and depression was caused understandably by the condition I was living with not being diagnosed and treated adequately. The then neuro’s response, “Oh, well he can read minds too?” DUmb ass. He of course is not the doctor I currently see. Hang in there! Better doctors lie ahead. More answers will come. This does sound like you are struggling with fibro- which there is a population who go on to have ms which the relapsing remitting sounds like. I pray I am wrong there and I am no doctor or seer with a crystal ball. But if it is ms, early treatment is helpful so stay on top of it. Never hesitate for second opinion. Love you writing. Thank you for sharing.

    • I’ve recently had a diagnosis of neuromyelitis optica which has likely been the issue for a while, possibly a very mild lupus lurking around too but no confirmation.
      Sounds like you’ve been through a lot but glad you’ve doctors that understand.
      Thank you for reading.

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