Today I’m kicking off a new blog feature. Let’s call it “Mid-Week Meanderings”. I’ll try to post an installment once a week, usually on Thursday, but I may miss a week now and then due to writing or family demands. Sometimes I’ll tell you tales about my feline children. Other times, I might share favorite recipes. Often, I’ll share family stories and bits of my life experiences.
To begin, let me tell you a secret: I’m a two-finger typist. An author who hunts and pecks, that’s me.
I learned the traditional way of typing in high school. The fastest I ever got was about fifty words a minute. Not great but okay since I didn’t plan to be a professional typist. In those day I had my heart set on becoming a fashion illustrator, a goal I attained after four years of art school, a career I was forced to abandon as my hands grew too weak to hold a pen or brush steady.
You see, I have a disability inherited from my father. If you’ve read my memoir Six Cats In My kitchen, you already know about it. If not, let me fill you in.
My family curse is called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease — CMT for short. No, it has nothing to do with teeth! It’s a neuromuscular disorder named after three doctors who first diagnosed it in the late 19th century. Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot was a French neurologist. He is known as the founder of modern neurology. Pierre Marie was his resident. They announced their findings along with a Brit named Howard Henry Tooth.
So what is this disease with the weird name that you’ve never heard of? According to the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association, “CMT is a group of inherited disorders that affect the peripheral nerves, which are the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. There are more than 70 kinds of CMT. Each kind is caused by a different genetic mutation, and more causes are being discovered every year.”
CMT is also called peroneal muscular atrophy. It affects more than two million people worldwide.
Typical symptoms of the disorder
- Weak ankles
- Foot drop
- High arches
- Hammer toes (curled downward)
- Very thin calves.
CMT can also affect the lower arms and hands, causing muscle atrophy. The arms become thin, thumbs lose strength and fingers eventually develop a clawed position. By that, I mean it becomes impossible to straighten them, explaining the title of this post. For many years now I’ve only been able to type with my two forefingers – hunting and pecking.
See more CMT photos here: http://tinyurl.com/nykwqx6
Surprisingly, I can type over thirty words a minute when simply copying a paragraph or two, fast enough to pass a typing test a decade ago when I toyed with the idea of working in a local branch library. I actually interviewed for a job there, but after learning I’d need to be on my feet all day I realized it wasn’t possible. Nowadays I type on a laptop computer, slowly pounding out my latest book.
Not to worry, though. Speed isn’t important. I’d write slowly even if I could type 120 words a minute. My stories don’t come pouring out like a river on a downhill grade. They trickle out one drip at a time. That’s not ideal in today’s speed-of-light indie publishing business, but what can I say? I’m a perfectionist, always have been. I fuss over every word, every sentence, every paragraph. Thus, my “handicap” isn’t really a problem.
Some people have poor eyesight, some poor hearing or other health issues, but humans are amazing creatures. Most of us make the best of our God-given abilities and find ways around our disabilities, whatever they may be.
How about you? Do you have a quirk of nature that affects your job, your family or activities?