Idle hands
April 12, 2005 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Ever have those moments when your hand refuses to obey your commands? Scott Adams fills everyone in on the wonder that is focal dystonia in his latest newsletter (look under the "Who's Drawing Dilbert lately?" section) The topic was slightly touched on here
posted by riffraff (19 comments total)
So that's my freaking problem!
It tends to happen to me when I'm holding cups full of liquid or pens or anything I shouldn't drop. If it wasn't for my camera strap, I would have dropped and broken many a camera. I describe it as "my hands freaking out" but everyone thinks I'm full of it. I wonder if there's any treatment.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 2:56 PM on April 12, 2005

That is fascinating to me.
posted by jonah at 3:05 PM on April 12, 2005

Wow, I've had twitchy eyes before but I never knew it could happen to your arms/hands as well. Freaky.
posted by mathowie at 3:08 PM on April 12, 2005

It tends to happen to me when I'm holding cups full of liquid or pens or anything I shouldn't drop.

I have the same problem with cups of liquid. I can't hold two glasses at once and sometimes not even one. It's very embarrassing. I have to use two hands to hold things sometimes.

I was diagnosed with Intention Tremors (also embarrassing) by a neurologist. I always thought my problem, holding cups was related to that.
posted by Akuinnen at 3:23 PM on April 12, 2005

MetaFilter: a localised (focal), unintended, simultaneous activity of agonists and antagonists.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:48 PM on April 12, 2005

posted by gregv at 4:05 PM on April 12, 2005

Welcome to MetaFilter, gregv.
posted by gleuschk at 4:10 PM on April 12, 2005

I wouldn't think drawing a simple, non-detailed cartoon like Dilbert could cause such an injury, but I guess I didn't know how hard Adams worked on it. I hope he gets the therapy treatment needed for the condition -- I happen to still like Dilbert.
posted by Down10 at 4:14 PM on April 12, 2005

I figured the revelation of the article would be that now Adams has poorly paid interns doing the drawing for his poor crippled self.

Of course, I am a bit of a cynic, and I do hold a grudge against Adams, the selfish bastard.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:43 PM on April 12, 2005

I'd have to say that a better question would be "Who's writing Dilbert lately?" That cremated-perpetual-liar series Sucked. (With a captial S).
posted by graventy at 5:52 PM on April 12, 2005

That is fascinating to me.

To me also. Thanks for the post. Also amazing to me (who revels in working as little as possible) is why somebody who (I would guess) is a zillionaire would continue doing something his body obviously dislikes.

I suppose if you're not driven like that you don't become such a giant success in the first place. But I always admired Bill Watterson, the Calvin and Hobbes guy, who basically said, "Well, I proved I could do a cartoon strip. And now I'll do something else."
posted by LeLiLo at 7:21 PM on April 12, 2005

Wow. Totally fascinating. Brains are like, so cool.
posted by stray at 9:43 PM on April 12, 2005

WGP, you made me laugh out loud and wake my dogs up. Heh.

I am 34, and I have an essential tremor. This more or less means that, on occasion, various parts of my body twitch or shake rhythmically, like someone with Parkinson's. It doesn't happen often, and sometimes (like yesterday) it just makes a single muscle in my arm move on its own (which fascinated my wife, who had never seen that particular manifestation before). It started when I was in high school, and gets a little worse every year.

My father has much, much larger tremors, and the jury's still out if it's essential tremor or Parkinson's. Possibly both. Like me, it gets worse the more excited he gets, good or bad; getting really good news or really bad news are equally effective at triggering it.

I realize this isn't quite the same thing as the topic, but I bring it up because the world is full of people who have things like this, what I call "little disabilities" because they get in our way but nobody is shunned socially because of it. Heck, most of my friends have no idea my tremors exist. It's not until the condition grows nearly constant and severe enough to be noticeable that the functional and social difficulties begin, and most folks never reach that point.

The more open and up-front we are about admitting that most of us have at least one such "little" disability when we do, the better off we'll be as a society at accepting and accommodating those with more significant and limiting disabilities. I'm fairly certain that's the reason Scott Adams wrote about his issue; it's why I'm writing about mine now, and it likely contributed to a friend at work recently revealing to me that he's had MS for 8 years -- you'd never know it, the guy even runs marathons -- but had only recently felt comfortable telling people about it.

So I'm glad Scott Adams wrote about his problem, and I'm sorry that it keeps him from directly doing something he cares so much about.
posted by davejay at 1:34 AM on April 13, 2005

""For Better or For Worse"'s creator, Lynn Johnston also has a form of the disorder called cervical dystonia, or spasmodic torticollis, which affects the neck muscles. In her case her head twists violently to the left while she is lying down. The painful condition led to fatigue and depression."

[clipped from an email list on Dystonia]

It's not a fun disease.
posted by DBAPaul at 6:50 AM on April 13, 2005

This was fascinating, thanks, riffraff. I don't begrudge Adams his millions or his using readers' ideas. I find his whole voice and outlook singularly entertaining, and this newsletter is no exception.

His drawing problem (while apparently a different type of disorder) reminds me of Nina Paley's. She used to do fantastic underground-comix-style cartoons like this with all kinds of ornate, unnecessary filligree and a ferociously cynical attitude. Then she was felled by carpal tunnel or some such and had to take a year or so off. When she came back, she had streamlined her drawing style and was doing simple, unexciting stuff like this. However, reading her site, I see she's now doing animation, and has an interesting project in the works.

Somebody oughta do a whole FPP on her. What's Hands of Manos up to these days?
posted by soyjoy at 7:31 AM on April 13, 2005

Agree totally davejay. There have been a few threads here that have revealed that some quirk of mine is pretty common.
posted by Mitheral at 8:26 AM on April 13, 2005

This post is a godsend.

I've been having unknown neuromuscular issues for years, and dystonia is one of the culprits that my doc and I are looking at. Currently, it's affecting my hands and arms the most, and it has affected the eyes.

Kinda hard of function at times when your left arm is curled upon itself, and won't respond to brain commands. I won't even get into the vision issues.

I'm glad to find info on this group of disorders that aren't dry medical articles or weepy human interest 'those wacky disabled folk - wow they're spunky!' newspaper stories.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:26 PM on April 13, 2005

I'm glad this post has gotten some good feedback. The last one I made about PETA a few days ago was universally flamed and eventually removed, although in retrospect I do have to admit it might have been too textually graphic for a FPP. I most definitely won't be doing that sort of thing anymore after that experience.

MeFites certainly are a curious bunch, but you gotta love 'em, unrestrained hostility and all.
posted by riffraff at 3:53 PM on April 13, 2005

Funny how Scott is careful to let us know that his right hand works in every other way. Like we'd be concerned his self-abuse schedule might be curtailed in addition to the drawing.
posted by chai-rista at 12:21 PM on April 14, 2005

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