Yesterday I read that actress Selma Blair shared the news that she had been diagnosed with MS, how she had been having symptoms for years and thought it would be just a pinched nerve. It felt so familiar… I was inspired by her courage to share her news with the world, so wanted to say it as well: Selma, me too.
For me it started several years ago with tingling in the fingers, both hands. I remember when I inadvertently dropped my pencil while writing. My hands feel as if I have gloves all the time. I lost precision in any skills requiring my hands and my handwriting suffered greatly. I used to be a musician, playing the keyboards for a long time. I lost dexterity in my hands and pretty much can’t feel the keys anymore. Thus, I haven’t played in a long time. Like Selma I thought it would be a pinched nerve and that it would get better. My feet followed and then my right leg stopped responding as usual. About a year ago I finally went to the doctor and got the devastating news. Primary progressive MS, meaning it is present all the time, that there is no cure and that it should get worse with time.
One of the first things I thought was about my drawing. Yes, I had lost precision, but actually I have been for years pushing myself to sketch with a more spontaneous, looser style. And I actually prefer my sketches now than those done when I had full control. Am I scared that I won’t be able to draw anymore? Of course. The thing is, even if or when my symptoms get worse, I will do everything I can to figure it out. Maybe I’ll need to change mediums, change formats, change style. But I’ll keep making art.
For now I’m understanding what is happening with me, so I’m not mad if I would struggle with cross hatching or pointillism. I like fountain pens but some are very uncomfortable for me to draw with. Eventually, less precise instruments will suit better. Good that I like that idea.
Like Selma, I also fall, drop things and need help doing basic things. And I don’t know how much and how soon the condition will progress. But I still have a lot to contribute to this world. I’ll keep sharing my passion for sketching the world around me. And I love teaching, so will be devoting more energy to do more instructional content and sharing what I know. MS won’t define me, I just happen to have it. So I’m ok.
These are some sketches I did yesterday with USK DFW at Klyde Warren Park.