Jim’s ABS Story

Growing up a little different from other kids in my area was, at times, hellish. ABS affected most of the digits on my right hand as well as toes on both feet. Other children didn’t make fun of the situation as much as they would shy away. They didn’t understand and didn’t want to hurt my feelings by asking.

Recalling the first occasion where someone did get the courage up to ask (I think I might have been 8, maybe 9), my nervous answer to her was simply, “I was born this way. Sometimes people are different like that. Sort of like some people are born with blue eyes like me and some brown like you.” Her answer, to my amazement was simply, “I like blue eyes.” By pure coincidence I assure you, I married her a decade later. She doesn’t recall this first meeting, but I certainly never forgot it.

Thirty years later, I still am asked mostly by kids why my fingers are different. The typical adult wonders, but is too concerned with embarrassing me to ask. It honestly tickles me to see the look on a parent’s face when their son or daughter ask me without hesitation. I never fail to answer, and they accept it in stride.

On the first proud occasion that I went to renew my driver’s license, I was asked by the young lady attending me if needed a handicapped sticker. My reply was, “No. I have no disability. Disability is an excuse for the unimaginative.”

Too often, the every day person is told or convinced internally that they simply cannot do one thing or another. Aside from various rude finger gestures with my right hand, I’ve not found anything I cannot do. I work as an IT Professional, I’ve remodeled my own house inside and out, play a little guitar, type at average speeds, drive like a typical middle aged maniac, and have fathered three beautiful and completely wonderful sons all of which have every digit in place. I mention that last only for those folks who are fearful of passing this on to the next generation.

To younger folks who get upset or don’t get why this happened to you? Wonder instead why other folks don’t see that as different as each of us is from the next person, how is it everyone else around is considered normal. There is no normal state. Our species, just like all others, is in a state of constant genetic flux. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.

Take your “difference” and work with it. Yes, there will be times you get upset because… but don’t let it bring you down. You were made the way you are for a reason. Find it, love it, and be who you are meant to be. And if some cute little browned eyed girl looks as if she wants to ask you why, simply answer her. You never know what will happen next.