Yes, I’m Missing a Finger
It’s a double post day.
I took this picture (or rather, I had my mom take this picture) because some VACTERL adults were sharing photos of theirs and I wanted to participate. I love seeing all the different hands – some missing just a thumb like me, some missing multiple fingers or arm bones, like my husband. Each affected hand I saw was different in some way – but each one also came with a story. I’m a writer and a storyteller at heart, so I love stories and the history of things…
This is my story.
I thought I’d share this with the official explanation, not fictitious the one I told my friend Katie when we were kids: I was born with a piece of skin there that would have been a thumb, but it had no bone or cartilage (my radial bone – the thumb bone – stops at a lump of bone at my wrist) and so it was removed. For those VACTERL people wondering, I didn’t have any type of poli surgery. For the people who Google everything, it’s called “radial dysplasia.”
This has not affected my life negatively, I don’t notice it because this is all I know. Most people who notice are totally awesome about it – my favorite was one friend a couple months ago exclaiming “I’ll be damned!” or then there was the college professor who thought I flipped her off when I pointed to something and she felt awful. There are people who knew me for twenty years before they noticed; there were people who have known me for five minutes and noticed right away. I’ve noticed those who notice right away typically have a family or close friend with a similar physical abnormality or they have one themselves.
I will say that yes, there are some people who are total jackasses, for lack of a better word, about my hand and for the life of me, I can’t understand why. A kid once called me a “four fingered f-ing freak”. To be fair, what I called him in retaliation to that was probably just as vulgar,but I was raised to stand up for myself, so there’s that.
The worst are the people who look at my with pity. Dude! Do. Not. Pity. Me. I’m not exactly bad-off here. I have nine fingers that work just fine and supposedly I’d be left handed regardless of my radial dysfunction. I can drive without steering wheel accommodation, I’ve crocheted for 20 years, I can hold a book to read just fine, I can type 100+ wpm and I’m one hell of a texter.
At the end of the day, this is just something cool about me (and yes, damn it, I call it “cool” because I believe it is), not something that defines me. I’m not, nor have I ever been, that girl/woman with nine fingers. I’m an individual who just happens to have nine fingers. Big difference.