Tom’s mother, Geraldine (Gerry), suffered a difficult pregnancy with Tom. There was bleeding around week 8 of the pregnancy which was found to be Tom’s aborting twin. Tom was in a very breeched and painful position throughout the pregnancy. Due to the problems Gerry received extra medical attention, however despite this, the absence of Tom’s hands and feet was not discovered until his birth.
It would be fair to say that we, his parents and family, were shocked, upset for a while but not devastated. The upset and fear that we experienced was the result of our ignorance as time was to prove.
Tom’s big sister Stephanie was almost 4 years old at the time. We decided not to point out Tom’s differences but to let her find out for herself. We did this so that her first encounter with Tom was to see what he had, not what he had-not.
We live in Blarney, County Cork, Ireland. The local community has been so good to us. We have never heard a cruel word, or experienced an upsetting stare, just genuine friendliness and support.
The first few days behind us the next hurdle to overcome would be our complete ignorance of dealing with a “disability”. First stop was the local medical community, who had never seen anyone like Tom before. Most were helpful and straight-talking for which we are grateful.
Next we contacted our local branch of “Reach”. This organization was established in the UK with the aim of helping the families of children with an upper limb deficiency. We were sent a lot of documentation, unfortunately much of it was irrelevant, as it dealt with single-limb deficiency. It was at this point that we began to feel a bit lonely.
Then I joined the I-CAN mailing list. Bill, Joyce, Diane, Nathan and the gang gave us *attitude*. From the mailing list we were able to establish a point-of-view, summed up in Bill’s maxim:
“Put a pair of feet on him and get out of his way.”
This has been our philosophy. It works. From then we were able to speak to the medical professionals with confidence.
We are very lucky to have a forward thinking prosthetist. He agrees with our philosophy. He understands the essential need for Tom to accept who he is. Then to provide him with the tools that he may need to express who he is.
Tom walks, “writes”, “reads” books and magazines, dances and does all the things that a 2 year old does. He is not “missing” hands or feet, he just doesn’t have them. End of Story.