Help my figure out what’s wrong with my hands.
March 20, 2007 4:17 PM   Subscribe

Manos and The Hands that don’t type! So my hands: they stopped typing correctly, and I need to type, a lot. The last three or four days I have been nearly incapable of typing. What’s Up?

Allow me to explain a little: now I’m not a stellar typist to begin with, around 45wpm, but lately I can’t type much more than a few words per minute without making crazy errors. The odd thing is that I don’t notice anything being different. I just look from whatever document I’m working on; up at the screen and everything I thought I was copying is complete nonsense.
It feels as if the keys have been rearranged. Even when starring at my hands I still make ridiculous errors. I spelled “and” D-H-T. I have before suffered minor nerve damage in my left hand but that was triggered by a major injury, and I don’t recall any of those last week. Any thoughts, similar experiences, or possible fixes would be of great help.
(as an example of my struggles it’s taken me well over an hour to type/fix this post)
posted by French Fry to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Help "me" Even.
posted by French Fry at 4:21 PM on March 20, 2007

See a doctor.
posted by The God Complex at 4:34 PM on March 20, 2007

I'm not trying to be glib, either. This sounds like the sort of thing you should see a doctor about, not solicit home-cooked advice. I know I would if something as abnormal as that happened.
posted by The God Complex at 4:36 PM on March 20, 2007

IANAD. How's your handwriting? Can you spell a word easily by speaking? Typing basically involves forming the words/letters & then using 'muscle memory' to type out the word on the keys.

When I saw that it took you over an hour to write the post, my first thought was aphasia. Can you repeat something word for word something someone says to you? Can you look at an object and name individual parts as you could before? Can you speak fluently?

Minor nerve damage in one hand doesn't do this - your hand itself doesn't learn anything. Does one hand type better than the other? How are your foot movements?
posted by devilsbrigade at 4:42 PM on March 20, 2007

The only time I've experienced something close to this is when using a different style keyboard (i.e., using a standard keyboard after having gotten used to an ergonomic one). But it never took me an hour to type a couple short paragraphs...

Get thee to a neurologist.
posted by CKmtl at 4:42 PM on March 20, 2007

And yes, go see a neurologist soon.
posted by devilsbrigade at 4:43 PM on March 20, 2007

Ditto The God Complex. See a doctor. No glibness or snark intended - this could be nothing, or it could be very bad. A doctor will be able to tell you, either way.
posted by deadmessenger at 4:43 PM on March 20, 2007

Yeah, see a doctor. It could be quite serious. To put the fear of God into you, I knew a friend who's only externally visible initial sign of a lethal brain tumor was a slightly crooked smile. Anytime those nerve pathways don't seem to be working right you go straight to the doc, do not pass go. It might be nothing and probably is nothing. But wouldn't you want to know ASAP?
posted by chairface at 4:46 PM on March 20, 2007

Yeeeaah. I am planning to go to the doctor, especially as no one has chimed in saying “oh just drink more orange juice”. And for the record I haven’t had any speech problems or problems remembering things I hear, and my hand writing is fine.
posted by French Fry at 5:50 PM on March 20, 2007

Have you tried typing on another computer? It's possible that someone is screwing with you and remapped part of your keyboard (ie A = D, N = H, etc).

If you're having trouble on another computer as well, get to a doctor.
posted by ASM at 5:56 PM on March 20, 2007

Go see a doctor, and drink more orange juice.
posted by flabdablet at 5:57 PM on March 20, 2007

Sometimes too high a dose of certain anti-depressants can cause this kind of thing. They increase the background level of certain neurotransmitters and thus lower the effective firing threshold for nerves stimulated by synapses that use those neurotransmitters, and it can manifest as incorrect muscle control, especially when typing. It's a symptom that psychiatrists are supposed to look for, since it indicates that the dose is too high.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:00 PM on March 20, 2007

I'm pretty sure what devilsbrigade was getting at is that typing is a complex task. Involves muscle memory, fine motor movement, language processing, language production, etc. All of which could be the level at which something is going amiss.

A neurologist would be better suited to tease out what's going on in your case, whether it's something or nothing (like, say, lack of sleep or stress).
posted by CKmtl at 6:05 PM on March 20, 2007

This seems unlikely, but: I know that there is software which will randomly cause your computer to type a wrong letter every X keys.

I know this because I installed such a thing once on my family's computer, many years ago, before leaving for school in the morning. I had done it only out of curiosity, and I only remembered a day or two later when my Dad, who writes for a living, told us that he thought he was losing it and was making all kinds of typing mistakes. I felt horrible.

I don't know, I could imagine there are viruses which do the same thing. It may be at least worth trying a different computer to see if you can type there.
posted by wyzewoman at 6:26 PM on March 20, 2007

How about: open whatever program you type in. Look down at the keyboard and move your finger across asd asd asd making sure (visually) that you hit each key. Do it for about a paragraphs worth. Look at the result. If it comes out asdasd then it's you, if it doesn't then it's your computer.
posted by anaelith at 7:36 PM on March 20, 2007

If you were someone close to me, we would be on our way to the emergency room of a hospital with a good Neurology department right now, if I had my way.
posted by jamjam at 8:32 AM on March 21, 2007

See a doctor.

I have anecdotally heard that playing a lot of keyboard controlled video games can sort of re-map your brain's idea of what a keyboard is for. If you play any "WASD" games, are you able to correctly steer your character?
posted by Secretariat at 9:05 AM on March 21, 2007

I’d just like to thank everyone who responded, The doctor is defiantly in order. I have to say this has been really helpful anyhow, I never know what to say to the doctor or how to answer their questions so my trips tend to be awkward and unproductive. But I now feel armed with knowledge; clearly the hive brain need not see a neurologist. Just me:p
posted by French Fry at 10:50 AM on March 21, 2007

Let us know how it turns out.. I just finished a clinical neuroanatomy course & so my mind is kind of wrapped up in all this kind of stuff right now.

I actually read up a bit more last night, seeing if my guess of aphasia was even remotely accurate. I ended up with, which turned out to be neither aphasia or apraxia but was somehow limited to typing. It seems incredibly rare that you'd have this (this is, for instance, the only article I found describing it), but the wording on the article gives an idea of what they were looking for initally.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:09 AM on March 21, 2007

If this turns out to be an office/computer prank, I think heads should roll - making you worried enough to consult a neurologist is emphatically not funny.
posted by Crosius at 1:52 PM on March 21, 2007

Just wanted to post the outcome of this little dilemma: I was suffering from a potassium deficiency which was causing my hands to shake a lot and therefore mistype. I of course didn’t feel/notice the shaking because of the aforementioned nerve damage. Also worthy of note, most multivitamins contain almost no potassium so eat your damn Bananas.
posted by French Fry at 11:53 AM on March 26, 2007

Glad to hear it didn't turn out to be anything too serious!
posted by The God Complex at 12:50 AM on March 27, 2007

Wow, so relieved!
posted by tristeza at 2:31 PM on March 27, 2007

Wow, interesting. Congrats though :)
posted by devilsbrigade at 1:10 AM on March 28, 2007

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