I was born in a small town in Canada in 1983, and at the time, apparently nobody knew what to call my condition. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I stumbled on it on the internet, and was like, Oh my gosh, that’s ME!
I was born with a club foot, and all of my hands and feet were affected. I had several surgeries to remove bands and separate fingers to give me as much mobility as possible, and 13 (!) casts on my right ankle before I was 2 years old to “fix” my club foot. My parents must have been freaking out a bit on the inside at what their baby had to go through, and must have had fears for me about the future, but I wasn’t at all aware of it. They treated me the same as any other kid, and I really never felt like I was less capable than any other kid. I remember being teased on occasion, but probably no more than most kids. My parents made my hands such a non issue that it felt odd to me when people made it one.
I’ve been an esthetician/makeup artist for almost 10 years now, and half the time, I don’t think people even notice. When I used to do manicures and people would notice, they’d sometimes ask about it, and I don’t mind at all. My hands aren’t a bad thing, just different. I always joke that out of all the things I’m totally insecure about, my hands aren’t one of them. This is my normal. You really, really can’t miss what you’ve never had in this case.
I’m married and my husband has admitted that when we first met, he didn’t even really notice, and then by the time he did, he had gotten to know me a bit, and his reaction was basically, “huh. ok.” lol. 🙂
I know there are people whose lives are made far more difficult by ABS than mine has been, but I echo the sentiment of a comment made on the guestbook that said this condition has given me more empathy. Most days, I forget I’m “different” until I notice someone staring at my hands. Usually I meet their eyes and smile, letting them know that I noticed them looking, and it’s ok to ask if they’re curious. I really don’t mind. I live a totally normal life, I just look a little different. I also, apparently, walk with a slight limp, which is much more noticeable if I’m wearing heels. It feels like my normal gait to me, but I’ve had a few people ask if I hurt my ankle, and then I get to tell them the long story of being born with a club foot, z-plasty, lengthening my achilles tendon, etc. 🙂 I affectionately refer to my zig-zag scarred, abnormally shaped ankle as my Franken-ankle.
I can honestly say that if you offered me a re-do, where I could be born with “normal” hands, feet, and ankle, I’d have to consider long and hard before accepting. Who knows to what degree this has shaped who I am? I kinda like myself, most days, Franken-ankle and all. 🙂