Living With A Limb Difference


Kate Murray, Staff Reporter

I draw my left hand as a slightly misshapen blob.  Partly it’s because drawing accurate hands is the definition of living hell, but partly it’s because my hand actually looks like that.  I was born without fingers on my left hand, yet despite what many people seem to think, it doesn’t really affect me.

In fact, the largest problems I have are when people try to tiptoe around it.  If I meet a young kid and their parents are around it is always the parents that tell their kids not to ask me questions about my hand because it’s “offensive.”  A note: it isn’t.  I have no problem with answering questions about pretty much anything, least of all my hand.  In fact the only time I haven’t given a straight answer is the time someone was trying to ask me about it while I was in the middle of doing homework.  I may or may not have told her that my fingers were bitten off by piranhas.  But really I would rather you came straight up and asked me about it, because there are a lot of people who think that the best way to not offend me is to completely ignore it and refuse to admit that they’re curious.  Trust me, that attitude does not benefit anyone, especially when we’re playing red rover and people hold my hand like it’s made of glass.  That doesn’t help our team, first of all, and second of all it’s a pretty sturdy limb.

Does my hand make life different for me? Sure.  In order to play the violin or viola I have to have an adaptive device to strap the bow to my hand, and there’s no feasible way for me to ever play a flute, but most things I can do with the right amount of determination and help from an occupational therapist.  My mom taught me to knit, I taught myself to draw, and various adults taught me how to ride a bike.  Mostly these are associated with having both hands, and it can surprise people that I can do them.  But the thing people don’t really remember is that I have had this hand my whole life, and I’ve figured out how to deal with it.

Now, there’s a difference I would like to point out.  “Limb difference” is the umbrella term that covers people born with congenital limb differences and people who had to have an amputation.  Amputees are the people who might have problems with answering questions, because amputations are almost always caused by some form of trauma.  Take Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, or Bucky Barnes from Captain America.  There is nearly a one hundred percent chance they wouldn’t want to talk about it because the reason for both amputations was either illegal, in the case of Edward, or highly traumatizing, in Bucky’s, but now compare them to Nemo.  Nemo views his little fin as a “lucky fin,” and he doesn’t have any problem with it.

Mostly, however, it’s just a fact of life.  You have ten fingers and I have five and a half, and that’s all there is to it.