How about a hand?

17 Feb

Twelve years ago, when my first child was born, she was immediately whisked away by the nurses to a table far across the room from Mom.  That wasn’t how we were told it would go. We had expected the baby would be placed in mom’s arms right away.  Not taken away to an examination table to be surrounded by nurses and doctors.

My former wife was in such a state of fatigue and relief, I don’t know that she even noticed. But I very quickly began to wonder why we weren’t holding our new born.

I asked one of the nurses “What is happening? Why isn’t the baby over here? Why are they staring at her hand? Why does that hand appear to not have fingers?”

The nurse looked at me with sad eyes and told me “She was born with a deformity, so we must check her to be sure noting else is missing. We want to be sure the hand is the only issue.”

Thankfully, no other part of Madeline was out of the norm.

At first, this was a difficult thing. Often, folks would say to us “How is the new baby? All ten fingers and toes?” It wasn’t a question meant to stir our emotions. Just to be friendly. But it was a difficult one to answer. Months and years later, the original shock and sadness wore off. We realized at our annual visits to Shriner’s Hospital that things could have been much worse for our little one.

Today, she is an over-achieving young lady. Tops in her 6th grade classroom, she sings, dances, dresses and acts like any normal twelve year old girl. You’d likely never notice she lacks the five left fingers the rest of us take so much for granted.  She wants it that way.

The experts at Shriner’s told us to never expect much in the way of prosthetics or limb regeneration. Science fiction, they would tell us, is mostly fiction.  But I always held out hope scientific advancements might one day allow her to have better use of her left hand.

There are all kinds of advancements happening today.  This Economist article caught my eye last week and truly inspires me to believe that by the time Maddie is an adult, people like her will have so many options were once there were few.  This new discovery of touch sensation being re-wired is absolutely astonishing to me.  Hope you enjoy the read.

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