Monday, April 9, 2012

T-4 Days

Matthew's beautiful 4 fingered hands.
I will never forget the moment that we found out that Matthew was born without thumbs.  We were standing in the pediatric examining room, watching as the on-call pediatrician examined our few hours old sweet baby Matthew.  She asked whether we had an ultrasound, and after we answered yes, she said "so, you know about his hands, right?".  I remember looking at his hands and counting those 4 fingers. I remember saying I needed to sit down. I don't remember much else until we were back in the car. I sat in back with Matthew and I watched Darren drive home trying not to use his thumbs.  That day, I remember calling my mom and saying "he doesn't have any thumbs".  And getting a youtube video from my best friend of a girl doing everything with no thumbs. And finding the article about pollicization from the Boston Children's Hospital. It was the start of Matthew's unique journey.

Though that day was dramatic and felt devastating at the time, looking back, we wish that Matthew's lack of thumbs were all he had to contend with.  He is amazing with his 4 fingers.  He can palm a ball.  He can hold a cup.  He can scribble.  He can hold a steering wheel.  I have no doubt that there would be no limit to what Matthew could accomplish with his 4 beautiful fingers just as they are.

Alyssa and Matthew on 'no thumbs' day.
But some tasks would be more of a struggle.  To see this for ourselves, on Saturday, Alyssa, Jackson, Darren and I all taped our thumb to our index fingers, to live life like Matthew does.  Yes, we understand that Matthew has a bit of an advantage in that he doesn't know life with a thumb and his muscles are more developed for the finger configuration that he has, but it was to remind us why we have scheduled pollicization for Matthew.  Jackson kept his thumb taped about 30 mins, Alyssa about an hour, and Darren and I did it for the majority of the day.  Some tasks weren't any more challenging.  Driving was actually pretty easy.  But some tasks were a bit more challenging, like buttoning a button and opening a jar.  And some tasks were exponentially more difficult.  Cutting the tape to put on the kids' thumbs was near impossible, as was carrying multiple cups to the table. 

After several postponements due to illness, Matthew's first pollicization, where they will move his index finger to a thumb position, is scheduled for this Friday.  Without this surgery, Matthew would be just fine, but our 'no thumbs' day was a reminder of why Matthew will benefit from this surgery.  Just like the relief we felt when we took the tape off, it will make life easier for him.  This surgery is our first real chance to do that.  I'm nervous and scared.  Any surgery is scary, but I'm praying fervently that this is the right choice for Matthew and that it will work out beautifully. 

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