By Guest Blogger Stephen Bell
Being born with a rare visible difference/disability can be an extremely interesting experience. I was born with a limb malformation condition on my right-hand called Syndactyly (pronounced syn-dac-ty-ly). All four of my fingers were fused together and I have since had the index finger separated after many skin graft and plastic surgery operations. Skin was taken from both the groin and the upper arm area to use for the skin graft and plastic surgery. I then had to wear a skin-tight, and very itchy, custom-made silicone glove day and night for six months in order to compress and heal the scarring. I have more flexibility and grip with the index finger since the surgery. The other three fingers share the same bone, so if more separations were to take place, one finger would be useable (like my index finger) and the other two fingers would be floppy, limp and useless.
My personal experience of having Syndactyly has been generally really positive; from an early age, my family taught, encouraged and helped me to be comfortable in my own skin. I guess nobody is 100 percent perfect. I have never ever tried to hide my fingers and hand, as this would only cause unnecessary attention. Some people never even notice but I am always more than happy to explain this unique condition and answer any questions. As with a lot of situations in life, it is often a case of assessing the situation and going with the flow. I let these conversations progress naturally, as I do not want to force anyone in to learning about my condition. If someone starts staring or glaring, then I will very politely just ask them, “Have we met before?” The majority of reactions I get when asked about my fingers is respectful, positive and encouraging. For as many years as I can remember, I have worn plain silver jewelry on both hands, like a watch, rings and bracelets. Perhaps this a subconscious was of both distracting and deflecting people from noticing my fingers. Like all other human beings, I learn coping strategies and mechanisms and this method works for me.
Read More about My Experience Living with Syndactyly: Fusion of Fingers