My Hands – Poor Fine Motor Skills

My Hands – Poor Fine Motor Skills

I used to always work with my hands; I was the kind of kid who liked to take things apart to find out how they worked. I always wanted my own tools even if it was just a screwdriver! As I grew older I became a DIY guy and worked on all sorts of projects around the house, I worked on motorcycles, cars, computers, everything! I also used my hands for art; I drew from an early age, I eventually started sculpting, painting (a bit) and of course playing music. Even though I was aware that I used my hands for so much I really had no idea how much fine motor skill was needed for simple, mundane, everyday life until I started losing function in my hands after being diagnosed with MS!

The first thing I noticed starting to go was my ability to play music. I played the piano and the guitar so that is a lot of finger work. On the piano, I would notice myself pressing the edge of the key I wanted to hit and the edge of the key next to it. It’s like where I thought the center of the key was in my head was not where it actually was in time and space. This is actually known as proprioception, the ability to tell where your limbs are in time and space relative to your own body. If you have poor proprioception then when your doctor asks you to close your eyes, extend both arms out and touch your nose with your finger you might feel like your finger is on a collision course with the tip of your nose but end up poking the side, your eye or maybe your cheek. This is not always specifically what they are looking for with this test but this is one thing it can tell you. So I started really having to look at my hands while I played either the piano or guitar so I could make sure they were in the right spot. Eventually, it became a simple fine motor issue; my fingers could not move the way I needed them to or as fast as I was telling them to. First I said goodbye to the guitar and eventually I could no longer press the keys on a piano as soft as I wanted or as quick as I wanted; everything felt really mechanical and eventually I just stopped playing as it was becoming too difficult and just not enjoyable. Very frustrating.

This happened over the course of years but at one point I had a major relapse that put me into a physical rehabilitation hospital for 6 weeks. I barely had control over anything! I could not even open and close my hands at first. I had to do all sorts of exercise to gain some function back even if it was something simple like pinching a clothespin open and clipping it onto a small metal bar. It was so difficult and I remember it being maddening because in my head I am telling my hands and fingers exactly what to do but they just would not do it! I would be staring at my limp hand telling it to clench but it’s like the signal got lost on its way from my brain to my hand because nothing would happen. That was at it’s worse but so far it has never got that bad again (knock on wood) but I have definitely been losing function over time.

One thing that drives me insane is trying to use a screwdriver, that simple tool I started using as a child. I will hold the screw with my left hand and be holding the screwdriver in my right. I slowly move the screwdriver towards the screw’s head but I can’t keep it steady. It feels like trying to thread a needle that you are holding with pliers with a piece of thread you are also holding with pliers at arms length during an earthquake! So much shaking! I miss – miss – miss the screw and usually end up just wanting to toss the screwdriver as far as I can out of frustration. I have found ways to sort of work around this but they don’t completely make the problem go away, they only sometimes help reduce the frustration.

Now the issue I deal with everyday that sort of scares me. Typing. The one thing I have left that connects me to the world. It’s exactly the same as the piano where I think I am about to hit one key but I actually end up hitting 2 or 3. I swear, a quarter of the time I spend writing is spent pressing “backspace” and re-attempting to type a word. I have to type so slow and watch the keyboard as I type even though in the past I typed at about 85 words per minute. I really don’t want to lose what fine motor skill I have left because if I can’t write I literally would not know “who I am” anymore, as in, my purpose. I would not know what to do with myself, typing is how I communicate with all the people in my life and I really can’t write by hand anymore. As far as typing, some days are better than others, just like anything else, you know how it goes.

I know there are lots of little hand exercises I can do to try to better my fine motor skills or at least keep them from getting worse, I have been to hand therapy and it really sucks because everything you do involves trying to do something you know you can’t do until you eventually can. Small, little, meticulous exercises; I find it so frustrating and because I am so sensitive to stress I just don’t usually want to do any of them even though I know I should or else I may end up not able to zip up my own zipper on my pants again. I can handle not being able to pick up really small objects or dropping them when I can but the zipper thing? That one is a big deal…

I know that fine motor issues are a major problem for most people with MS but obviously this affects all of our lives differently. I have simply shared some of the main ways it affects mine but I know that is only the tip of the iceberg. I could still write so much about all the little ways multiple sclerosis screws with my fine motor skills and how I think that all button up shirts should be burned in a pit of hot lava but I am just going to leave you with the things that affect my life the most because most everything else is more of a “nuisance” to me. So how have you been affected by a loss of fine motor skill? Share below!

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

Comments

View Comments (70)
  • dahl7651
    2 weeks ago

    My biggest problem is my right hand (of coarse), is curled up so bad that it effects lots of every day tasks, I’ve been to OT, with no help, and Botox injections were suggested but I’m not willing to try it. Carpal Tunnel gloves were also suggested. I feel that MS made this decision and I just frustrate myself trying to make it better. I hate not being able to use my hand like I did in the past. But at least at this point, I can still sit up and think on my own.

  • Matt Allen G author
    10 hours ago

    Oh man, did you see an OT who specializes in hand therapy? That was the first thing I would have recommended but beyond that, I’m really not sure. Botox seems like it could be intense but it might be worth considering, I would try to find others who have MS and have used it for spasticity, seems more common than you would think.

  • ss46sh
    2 weeks ago

    Well Matt
    I type with my two index fingers. I do not care how long it takes me as I usually have nowhere I need to be. When I retired from teaching I too wanted to be able to write. I still write all my columns for the newspaper by hand before submitting my typewritten copy. I find daily use contributes to maintaining my motor skills. Not too sure how many notes you could play on the piano using the hunt and peck method but it works for me on my computer. For three decades with MS I have tried to do everything I can. I do not want to give into MS. Over the years I have turned over some chores and responsibilities to other family members. I have however kept certain work regardless of how long it takes me to complete. Giving in to the difficulty MS sometimes causes is just not an option in my life. At least that is how I currently feel. I find routine in my day reduces mental fatigue. If you do not have to think but just do it is easier. If at all possible continue to use what motor skills you have so they do not disappear.

  • Matt Allen G author
    10 hours ago

    I agree with you on not giving things up when they get hard but unfortunately I already gave certain things (like music) up before I realised that giving stuff up as soon as they hard is a mistake :/

  • Matt Allen G author
    10 hours ago

    Oh man, did you see an OT who specializes in hand therapy? That was the first thing I would have recommended but beyond that, I’m really not sure. Botox seems like it could be intense but it might be worth considering, I would try to find others who have MS and have used it for spasticity, seems more common than you would think.

  • Maris
    5 months ago

    About disfunctional hands, I either drop things or knock them over and make a mess so often that it’s embarrassing! I’ve reached the point of typing (pretty well) one handed on my tablet. Sitting down at a full-sized keyboard is very difficult and frustrating. I used to type over 100 words/minute on a regular typewriter, no less a computer keyboard! Zippers, buttons, brushing teeth, and so many other things have become frustrating, painful chores. What other fine motor skills are on the way to oblivion?

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 months ago

    Since the time I wrote this I finally made the switch to using Dragon speech recognition software, not all the time, just when I know I will have a lot to write.

  • itasara
    6 months ago

    Thanks for your blog. I am a musician, mostly singer. I haven’t played piano in a very long time. I tried a piece last week and found I can find the keys but had a lot of trouble with speed. I felt I was out of practice more than anything.
    Typing has been a royal pain. I know where the keys are but these new key boards are flat and I just have more problems and constantly have to correct what I have typed. I also have some kind of arthritis going on and one of my pinky fingers is a little out of shape and doesn’t lie on the correct key. Lately I have been trying to use the dictation feature on my Mac and iphone, and although that isn’t perfect either, it works better for me sometimes.
    Singing has been a big issue. I blamed it on getting older but maybe MS plays a role. Hard to say. Saw my vocal ENT doc who thinks I have laryngeal acid reflux which he thinks is the cause of what is bothering me. So I am taking some meds and trying to avoid certain foods, but that is often very difficult to do. I take hormone therapy which may help me keep my high notes. I tried stopping for awhile and my life was miserable. So I’m back on them only every other day and I feel so much better. I decided to leave my p/t cantor job. No one could hear anything “wrong” with my singing but I knew it was not what I liked or felt so at age 70 I decided it was time to quit. I still take lessons and do exercises and belong to choral groups.
    I can’t say my MS has progressed but who knows. Just read an article that maybe there are different kinds of MS that remain in the same condition. I kind of feel that could be true. My daughter was dx’d three years before me just before she turned 20. She was even told after about 10 or more years to stop taking medication because she was doing so well and b/c her MRI’s have not progressed. Not all neurologists would agree with that but she feels she is “cured.” I hope she doesn’t progress and that could mean that there are different types of MS that are stable.

  • Matt Allen G author
    5 months ago

    I remember when I first started to notice that I couldn’t play piano and guitar as well. I figured I had just not been practicing but I guess it was a little more than. The keyboard issue used to drive me nuts because I hated how all the keyboards were becoming super flat which made it even more difficult to type as I was losing my ability to find the keys without looking at them. I recently decided to put up the money have a custom keyboard made with tall keys that I was able to choose how hard I had to push before it would click, how long I would have to click before it registered on the computer so that I could try to keep some of the slips of my fingers from showing up on the computer, and it even has custom backlit keys so all the keys that use are lit up the keys I don’t use our dark. There are so many more features is not even funny in this keyboard cost me a lot of money but as a writer it was worth it to me.

  • itasara
    6 months ago

    Interesting blog. I am a musician, mostly vocal. I haven’t played piano in a long time. I was okay at it but not what you would call ready for prime time. Last week I sat down and played a piece I haven’t in many years. Very difficulty. I didn’t have same problem you have but had to play much slower and made more mistakes than usual. would practice help? Don’t know.
    I can still touch my nose with my fingers when my eyes are closed.
    Singing is another problem. Cant say it is an MS problem or not. I knew that getting older is often a problem for some singers. I was doing really well til a couple years ago. I had a part time cantor job and although most could not hear anything different, I felt things that made singing a lot more difficult. So I finally went to my vocal ENT doc and her feels what I experienced might be due to silent laryngeal reflux. So I am trying medication and cutting down

  • itasara
    6 months ago

    sorry for the double post. I was typing and it disappeared so thought I lost it. Cant find a way do delete here.

  • weezy
    6 months ago

    My big problem is dropping things, they just fall out of my hand! Usually my left hand which is my more affected side. I put together a glass/metal computer desk with my sister this weekend and screwing in the bolts and using the Allen wrench was very frustrating at times! I have always been a very mechanically inclined person, so MS has really depleted that skill. I also used to be a Nurse Practitioner and can no longer work due to MS.

  • Matt Allen G author
    5 months ago

    I hate how I will randomly just dropped something. It has literally changed the way I tend to hold things, like a glass of water, I grip it with three fingers and a thumb my pinky goes underneath it which sometimes helps but not always.

  • itasara
    6 months ago

    @weezy I too drop things all the time. I had asked on other MS board about dropping things and did not get much response. I have feeling in my hands and fingers and can movie my hands and fingers well but my grip isn’t great. Often things just slide out of my hands (especially lite items like pens, pencils) but I have to pay attention for heavier items although sometimes they just drop before I have a chance to hold on to them.

  • Mawmawkt
    7 months ago

    After many years as a nurse, I was laid off due to downsizing. I was fine until MS affected my fine motor skills. Now I have great difficulty typing,signing my name,dropping things and oh yes, doing most anything that requires me to use and control my fingers. I really need to work. I am dependent on myself for income. Any suggestions on what type of work I might be able to do? Can you imagine a nurse starting an IV while having constant tremors?Perish the thought. And, I actually used to be very good at that. I really need help.

  • Matt Allen G author
    7 months ago

    Oh man, please don’t try to stick me with an IV! I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be! Off the top of my head, what about some sort of nurse line? I know there are all sorts of nurse services offered over the phone,

  • Stanner
    1 year ago

    Like most, as a kid I loved to draw. Pencil drawings in notebook after notebook, day after day every day. By no stretch an artist, if anything a competent amateur cartoonist. I drew for the school paper and yearbook in high school, college and law school. Then a few classes in drawing with colored pencils, drawings for local groups of which I am a member, and cartoons and posters for and with my children. Just something that I loved to do. M.S. took it away. At this point I can barely hold a pencil to sign my name, much less manage the fine motor skills required to produce a pencil or pen and ink drawing. I used to run, but can’t anymore; hold a full time job, but can’t anymore, but what I miss the most is the ability to produce those little drawings.

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    I miss that too, I always look at my old drawings from back in the day that I keep in a laminated folder. There are still many days where I am tempted to try to something but things usually don’t work out and then I just feel really bad about myself LOL but I suppose if I were to practice holding a pencil again long enough I would eventually be able to drunk decent wedding but never like I could before

  • EmJTal
    1 year ago

    I consider myself to be fortunate as far as my MS is concerned. However as I stumbled across this article, I realize that my hands are one thing that are beginning to bother me. It is hard to ignore but I will not allow this to prevent me from making jewelry (I am a jewelry designer/metalsmith). There are tasks that definitely take me longer and I appear to have adopted ways to pick up those tiny pieces. My fingertips are numb and the picking up is hard work and I do get really frustrated.
    I also have a hard time with buttons on clothing! Wow – this drives me insane. I feel so clumsy.
    I also used to run, but my left leg clearly has other plans!
    Typing this is also a challenge, my typing is getting sloppy but I will not let it stop me.
    I have made the choice not to allow my MS to get in the way of me pursuing the life I want. My two passions are jewelry design (my own creative outlet) and I am also a certified creativity coach. I am not denying the MS. I am choosing to let it be present (believe me, the reminders are there daily) but I am not allowing it to rule my world. I fully acknowledge how devastating MS is for many others and it is very understandable when I read how frustrated and upset they are.
    Thank you to everyone who has shared their story here – true bravery!

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    My best advice is to keep trying to do things no matter how hard to get otherwise you will completely lose the ability to do them. I need to set up a sort of self hand physical therapy routine where every day I practice writing letters and drawing shapes like when I was in first grade. I need to rebuild those connections in my brain so that maybe I can at least write a little more clearly for a bit. Draw basic images. I wish I kept up the practice but unfortunately with technology nowadays, everything is typed on a keyboard or on a phone

  • mjordan1317
    2 years ago

    I miss being able to type too.. think I dropped from 75 wpm to around 12… embarrassing..

  • Matt Allen G author
    1 year ago

    At this point, I can type well enough to say what I want to say but I always have to read back over everything to delete all the keys I accidentally pressed while trying to press ONE. Just now I hit a [ and a W

  • westexer
    2 years ago

    Cross-Stitching and Needlepoint have helped my finger dexterity a lot over the years. Start with small patterns using a bigger needle and larger hole fabric. If that’s too frustrating to beginning with, get a small rug hooking kit. No needle to thread and the tool has a big handle. Hobby stuff gets me absorbed in what I’m doing and that’s relaxing for me personally.

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    I need to start just practicing writing on paper, even if it’s that giant lined paper they give to kindergarteners learning to write.

  • vanderkolk
    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story! I thought I was the only one as I know MS affects each of us differently. I am newly diagnosed (2015) and am figuring out my new normals. Piano playing has become excruciating. The tips of my fingers feel so weird when I press down on keys. Typing – ugh! I can no longer put the backs of my earings on or clasp a necklace. My beautiful (to me) handwriting is gone. Oh my – typing this out is making me tear up. However, I don’t want to sound sad. I am thankful for ALL that I can do…but I guess it is ok to acknowledge the loss of these things that used to be a no-brainer. Again, thanks for sharing!

  • Maris
    5 months ago

    Backs of earrings – scream – or getting them into the holes / piercings – ugh!!! Those are 2 of the vanities that I’ve ever had and they’re becoming so frustrating . The other is my hair. It’s VERY LONG and becoming so hard to keep brushed. I use tons of conditioner when I wash it, but dry!?! I just about skip it. I’m not cutting it, so any suggestions?

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    For typing, have you looked into Dragon? I used it for a while, weird at first but it become so easy

  • Toledo34287
    2 years ago

    Thank you for this article. My issue is typing. Hunt and peck
    I can no longer just fly through the thoughts that I used to put on my computer. By the time I look at the screen and then at the keyboard, my thought is lost. So much for that best seller

  • TheBillLarson
    2 years ago

    Your paragraph re: being a musician and impacting your piano and guitar playing hits close to home for me. I have given up playing acoustic guitar because I don’t have the hand strength to be able to finger the chords. I do still play bass guitar, as I do have the strength to be able to only have to finger one string to get the desired note. I will say though that after playing a set of a handful of songs or so I am feeling it.

    I also play keyboard, and while it was difficult to read your description of your experience it was also educational, because I believe I am heading down the same path. The whole bit of not properly striking the key or sloughing the fingering is something I am starting to recognize myself. I haven’t really had strength issues pressing the keys at this point, so for that I am thankful.

    Thank you for sharing this blog over all, but particularly regarding music. That really struck a chord with me (pun intended).

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    I eventually just could not get my fingers in the right position to strike a chord on the guitar or even on the piano, it was like my fingers were all tangled. ARG…

  • joannmaxwell
    2 years ago

    Typing for sure!! I use voice recognition programs whenever I can. Even to text. I have also begun to use my non-dominant hand to eat with also. Yes, not only zippers but also buttons!! And opening jars, medicine bottles, can opener, and on and on. It is very frustrating to not be able to do the simplest of tasks! I too do OT exercises, so I don’t loose more ability. It is working marginally.

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    I rely heavily on speech to text BUT it can become problematic when my speech is slurring. Then it’s just me yelling a simple word over and over at my phone like it’s not an inanimate object

  • dokimospavlos
    2 years ago

    I identify VERY strongly with about 90% of what folks have written here. It surprised me how much this comforted me. Yes, I played piano. Classical. Bach especially. Worked as a legal secretary and made my living with my typing skills. (The title of Robert Graves’ biography is “Goodbye To All That.”) Have Dragon set up, but I’m not using it regularly. I’m ready though. I’m 66. I was diagnosed in 2003, went on disability in 2009, in 2010 they said it was secondary progressive, in 2011 could no longer live alone, in 2012 got on Medicaid and now have home health aides 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Oh, by the way, I’m in a wheelchair, a power chair. I love to speed down the hallway of this apartment building. I was never into speed before.

    I’m so tired of hearing people say “I have that too” that half the time I just ignore it. The other half I snarl “Oh, do you have MS too?” When I ask one of my aides for something and they try to hand it to me I get so tired of telling them, “Do you want me to drop it? Just place it down on the table and I will pick it up.” My grandmother used to call me in Yiddish “goldene hend,” i.e. golden hands, because I could do anything with my hands. Thanks folks for your wonderful comments.

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    Man, first of all yeah, I am so… annoyed by people telling me “oh that is normal, I feel that too”. No, it’s not. Secondly, I always used my hand for everything so it was and still is a change that is very hard to accept.

  • jennyb
    2 years ago

    Typing! I seem to have forgotten where the letters are and where my fingers go. My handwriting has gone to hell.

  • Mawmawkt
    7 months ago

    Jenny, do you go to OT? I have the same problem as so many do, loss of fine motor control. I just wondered if it OT makes much of a difference. Thanks for sharing

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    To think there was a time where I could write with both hands at the same time and though my left hand may not have been as good as my right hand it was much better than my right hand is now haha. So yeah, I totally get you

  • Patea
    2 years ago

    Thank you, you wrote about my life. These were the 1st symptoms, that something as wrong. My handwriting, dropping things and my inability to make jewelry. Frustration is a mild understatement. Thank you for sharing

  • jennyb
    2 years ago

    Typing! I have used a typewriter most of my life and I KNOW where the keys are, I cried when I read that you spent most of the time backspacing and correcting because that is what I do. For a long time, I thought it was the computer, but it isn’t.

  • disarmlily1979
    2 years ago

    When I experienced my third and last attack back in 2010, which had led to my MS diagnosis, the entire left side of my body went completely numb. Started in just my pinky finger in the morning and I thought almost nothing of it…but as the day progressed, the numbness crept across the rest of my hand, up my arm, down the left side of my torso, and left leg. I would step out of my shoe without even realizing it, I was extremely irritated if someone touched my left side if I couldn’t see it (I couldn’t tell if I was being touched or if I was experiencing a new symptom/sensation. It scared me to death, but I ended up getting most of my feeling back after a while, except for my left hand…completely. I’ve had issues with stupid, little things like using my turn signal while driving, typing on the computer, picking up objects (missing them over and over again or knocking them over, occasionally breaking something), and dropping things. It gets INFURIATING after the 50th time by 10am.

    It gets even more irritating when people say, “Oh, that happens to me all the time!” Not to the point where you just give up with frustration and choose to do nothing but sit on the couch and breathe! It gets EVEN MORE FRUSTRATING when I inevitably lose patience with myself and my uncooperative body, and my husband/family/friends/etc. witness me “overreacting” over spilled milk. They just don’t get it! Instead of asking if/how they can help, they tend to tell me to calm down (which, in the history of the world has seldom led to someone actually calming down). Then, I get even more frustrated which leads to overheating, which leads to worsened symptoms…just a delightful cycle…

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 years ago

    I often get frustrated with myself and blow up over spilled milk and then I can hear people in the other room saying “ope, Matt is being crazy again”. Really? Ever stop to wonder why and see if there is a way you can HELP?

  • Trish
    3 years ago

    There was a time when I experienced tremors so bad that they were scary. I couldnt write at all.I couldn’t even write my own signature. It was just a scribble. I had to type using the top of a pencil and do it very slowly. I worried about the loss of my job if others found out. Not knowing if this would be permanent or not was hard to live with. Luckily this was a temporary thing but now that it’s happened I have this sinking feeling that it will come back. Maybe this time for the long haul.

  • Dawnceleste
    2 years ago

    I often wonder about my signature,;if it actually counts as my official signature, since it comes out different every time now. Writing evene stick notes or filling out forms is so difficult! And I’ve hit the wrong key at least 15 times on my phone just writing this. I hate the sound of my voice and have an aversion to talking to my phone and trying the voice recognition thing. And it’s hard to wait that extra second to proofread before hitting “post”. So very frustrating as its my maiin means of communication and staying involved . Also every time I’m typing this currently, right bicep is spasming. Yay me!

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    My “signature” can’t be forged, it’s a different (but similar) scribble every time. Glad it improved for you. I was about to have a mental breakdown yesterday because I COULD NOT draw a circle…. ARG!

  • Wendy
    3 years ago

    I enjoy your articles, Matt. They’re well written, cover the topic well and seem to hit home for me more often than I’d like! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, experience and research with us.

    My hands were both seriously affected with my last exacerbation. I have severe numbness, tremors and cramping. I now have to type with my right thumb and left index finger. Frustrating after making my living typing 100 wpm as a legal secretary for close to 40 years. I had to leave my work and was fortunate to get on disability. I can no longer play the piano. Although I was no virtuoso, I enjoyed playing and accompanying friends and family and it added a lot to my social pleasure. Now my fingers curl up if I try to place them on the keyboard or they fumble all over the place. I have had to mourn these things and sometimes indulge in a pity party, although I try to keep things in perspective most of the time.

    One thing I am SO grateful for is the prevalence of speech recognition programs. I “dictate” my e-mails and texts almost all the time. I do have to go back and review my writings for the sometimes humorous or embarrassing “interpretations” my phone or device may type, but it’s a lifesaver for me. I would highly recommend this method of communication if anyone hasn’t up until now. Besides, pressing those tiny buttons on my phone is so frustrating and time consuming. The Dragon voice recognition program for computers is quite awesome and has greatly improved since my first use back in the early 2000’s. I have trouble doing most things with my hands, having to be sure I hang on extra tight to items I pick up or hold, as my hands often think they are holding something tighter than they really are. Hand sewing is out now…trembling and cramping, being two very limiting issues. I rarely try to write a card because my writing is illegible unless I write in a big, loopy way which works in private but is not appropriate for a personal card, so I often use fonts that look like a person’s handwriting or printing. There are many fonts out there, plus one can even order a personalized font based on one’s own scanned handwritten alphabet. I got that done for $10 online. I guess what it all boils down to is I try to adapt. It’s not as satisfying as still being able to do what I’ve always done in the past, but it is rewarding to do what I can to keep me “in the game.” The list goes on and on. While preparing dinner last night,I spilled some liquid from a pan I was draining off into a can (knocking over the can in the process!) My husband said, “Why didn’t you ask me for help?” and I said, “Because I don’t always know I can’t do it until I try, and then it’s too late.” I can still do a lot for myself and want to continue trying until I know that particular thing has become a “no go.” I hate this disease, but try not to let it keep me down for too long.

  • Hershey21
    2 months ago

    I appreciate your positive response in that you are trying to do the best you can and adapt. I really try to be positive as best I can. My husband has to drive me, help me w/household stuff, do all the things I can’t do anymore. Yes I’m sad I can’t do them for myself but the last thing I want to do is take my frustration out on him! He didn’t ask for this disease either. SO The least I can do is let him know how greatful I am for all that he does for me. I think I must say thank you to him very sincerely about 50 times a day.
    Yes sometimes I loose it and sometimes tears just run down my face out of the blue BUT I really try to be positive and greatful.
    I know that I am blessed to have a good husband. I know so many people w/ MS have to navigate this minefield alone Sadly you can almost always find someone who’s life is much harder than your.

  • godlylove1st
    3 years ago

    I noticed the tremors 1st when signing my name, now when I eat especially with a fork the process is tedious. Today for the first time am considering some type of adaptive device to eat with.

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    signing my name now; “I know what my own scribbles look like” lol seriously, I sign my name now without even thinking of letters!

  • 105bvmf
    3 years ago

    My neurologist provide me with a weighted fork and spoon. It helped my hand be steadier, so I didn’t spill my food as often. He gave me an apparatus, that held my pen or pencil that fit the palm of my hand, making writing much easier for me to write and others to read. I quit playing the piano, due to tremors and fingers locking. I loved playing. It was a joy to play music.

  • tfs
    3 years ago

    Matt: I just want to comment on the loss concerning your ability to play guitar and piano, and even keyboarding skills. I am not a musician, however, I am experiencing significant numbness with my right hand so I can only imagine your loss. I hope you take the time to grieve because it is so sad. You are still a musician though and I hope your voice can be your new instrument. Your article moved me.

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    Haha I got over the music thing years ago, there are too many other things I want to be able to do

  • B.L.
    3 years ago

    Well …I used to have beautiful handwriting and had also taught myself some acoustic versions of metal songs

  • Holly
    3 years ago

    Thank you so much for this article! It was almost like you were writing my story! I am sharing this with my family in hopes for them to better understand why I turn into a bitchy/crazy/over-emotional woman sometimes–and how not being able to do the things “I know I can (could) do” is now a never-ending, daily reminder that I no longer have these abilities, which sometimes makes me feel like I’m in a never-ending cycle of grieving as well as frustration. (Oh how I miss typing! I mean on a REAL keyboard with 10 fingers flying over the keys like I did for decades @100wpm! NOT like I am doing now with only my right thumb on my cellphone!). But I am grateful I still at least have that!!
    All in all, great article, Matt, and thanks for sharing your story! It really touched me!

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    I miss handwriting, I just realised 3 minutes ago that even a quick note on sticky notes is getting even more difficult! And yeah, typing is getting hard so I really miss the days of typing at 80WPM and not having to hit “backspace” so often!

  • SteveMS
    3 years ago

    The difficulty with your motor skill with your hands may or may not be a symptom of MS. That is not entirely clear. I was diagnosed with PPMS at the age of 66 and shortly thereafter i developed familial tremor in my left hand, my dominant hand. The shakiness is as you describe. but my father developed this tremor in his right hand when he was older but he did not have MS. You can’t thread a needle with this tremor or do other really fine motor work but to put a dash of humor with this ailment I volunteer to us my hand to make milkshakes when the machines break down. Take care.

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    Well, for me it is definitely MS, MRI’s to support it and pretty typical, but yes, there are so many different possible causes, especially the higher up in age you get which can be said about most MS symptoms!

  • jackie5275
    3 years ago

    In my job,I do a bit of cash handling. Often, I have to hand count stacks of currency. There are times when I feel my hand & finger muscles straining to count down the bills. Before I was diagnosed & started treatment, I remember trying to open a single blister pack of a Zyrtec tablet. I couldn’t do it and had to use scissors to cut it open. I’ve been able to get that skill back with treatment. However, things like typing, which I do much of at work, carrying things, holding things for a long period of time can be challenging. I tend to drop things more than the average person. I use hand grips & squeeze stress balls to try to maintain my hand strength. I am glad though because this hand weakness is the worst of my symptoms. My legs & feet are pretty much unaffected. Although, I do think about the future from time to time when, even though it’s a way off, I’m a grandparent. I think will I be able to hold that grandchild for any appreciable amount of time?

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    Look up something called “theraputty” if you have never used it, I worked with it while I was in the hospital, hand therapy exercises suck but it really helped!

  • potter
    3 years ago

    Before I was diagnosed I was taking a bicycle ride daily. One day in the middle of the ride my legs wouldn’t peddle anymore. I sat there balancing on the bicycle telling my legs to move and down, nothing. I got off the bicycle and walked it home, I thought I was losing my mind. I didn’t tell anyone about the incident and sold the bicycle. My fingers and hands have spells of tingling and numbness but it usually only happens for a couple of hours at a time. Potter

  • mamak1118
    3 years ago

    On a lighter note – playing Operation with my kids last night was so annoying because I kept getting buzzed before I even tried to operate! My hand would jerk and the tweezers would hit the metal. Definitely gave the kids an advantage! 🙂

    But I do understand the frustration you all are describing. And hearing how you’re having difficulty with typing…I thought I was just getting sloppy or something. Now I can correlate the many times I think I’m hitting one key but catch the edge of another to my MS. Thanks, everybody, for sharing. Hang in there!

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    Haha I have no desire to ever play that game again! Jenga either!

  • mascha
    3 years ago

    My right side is effected and now seems to become a problem. I am a hairdresser and although I don’t work as one,for many many years but I do cut my sons hair.I can do it but causes pain after.Writing this now is a problem due to spasticity. Peeling potatoes sucks!! I have thrown my tennis racket away,iPad is in my draw,computer is on hold and got knows what’s next!!!

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    :/ I wish I had some sort of helpful advice but I ask myself this everyday…

  • cjtmn
    3 years ago

    I am a rightie and that is the side that was affected during my last relapse. I remember playing a game with myself at night trying to guess where and what position my hand was in…I never got it right. I also couldn’t type, mouse, hold anything, write, button, etc. It was so frustrating!

    Thankfully much of that has cleared over the last 9 months. However, I’m still left with a sensation of numbness from my jawline to the tips of my fingers AND hypersensitivity in my fingertips. This makes it hard to do many things – hot water feels burning, a crumpled up piece of paper feels like pins, etc. I still drop things and have found work arounds for many daily activities. Regardless, it’s a constant reminder.

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    Sounds like me, except I alway had more motor issues with my hands then sensation issues. Had those (just as you described) on my body, not my hands EXCEPT for me hot and cold were sort of switched. Cold (especially misting water on my skin) felt like hot oil popping and I seemed to be kind of numb to heat, like a hot car or pan…

  • Sue
    3 years ago

    I am a rightie. I did not realize how much I used my left hand. Putting on pants, socks and shoes are two handed operations. So are cutting meat, buttering a bagel and eating ice cream. Try putting a barrette or pony tail elastic with one hand. Holding avoid book or signing a document requires two hands too. Even holding my iPad for reading and writing has been difficult now that my left arm is no just a shelf.
    I can’t imagine what amputees do. People with m s have to keep on adapting.

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    That’s just it; adapting but adapting PROPERLY, that is where an occupational therapist comes in, they can show you how to keep doing the things you used to do in new ways and ways that won’t causes your body more damage over time. My Mom is an OT so I know a good amount about all that haha

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago

    “You don’t know what you have till you lose it” I could not get this out of my head, there are just so many things that made me realise how much hands are taken for granted

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 years ago
  • mascha
    3 years ago

    It’s so true we need to keep adapting and I keep getting more and more each month 🙁

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