Sunday, January 30, 2011


Everywhere you go now days everything is automatic. Automatic stairs, automatic doors, and the restrooms where everything is automatic. There are some things in this world that are simplified for cleanliness, people with handicaps, and people who are just plain lazy. I'm sure we can all categorize ourselves accordingly. However, some of those things are a pain in the ass for us with no hands, small hands, or in some cases, normal hands.

I mean really, how hard is it to turn the water on, dispense your own soap, and release your own paper towel? Apparently, pretty hard. Over the years I have had many fights with different types of these devices because they do NOT work for anyone with a missing hand, of any kind. The instructions read, "Wave hand in front of sensor." Straightforward, right? Of course, if you have something to "wave" in front of the stupid thing. When you spend 10 minutes fighting with water that clearly does not speak back to you, it becomes very frustrating. I am not only speaking from experience, but I saw a kid with both hands trying to get the water to work with him and he looked at me like, "What's wrong?" I just laughed and said, "Don't worry, it won't work for me either." To me, it isn't about efficency, but effectiveness. Sure, automatic everything makes everyone move faster....I mean it must since it wants to think for you and send you on your way. But, it's not always the case. The it's the little things in life typical peers do not think twice about. And, it's times like these that I am happy to relate to a typical person with the same frustration while it being a totally different circumstance.

Another circumstance is that I am working with a teenage girl who finds it almost impossible to fit in socially because of the technological developments that are great for people who are able to use them, but alienate those who are not adequately suited to do so. For instance, the latest and greatest gadgets are the Ipad and Wii. When you are at the age where everyone has both and you cannot use any without it clearly being noticeable, the challenge becomes pressure and it completely takes the fun out of any activity. However, in order to be "socially accepted" you have to find ways around challenges. It never stopped me from the Wii, Ipad, or any other device because I didn't give it a chance. Yes, everyone moves out of the way when I am playing baseball or golf on Wii, and that the controller is tighly fastened so the TV doesn't shatter, but in order to overcome challenges, you have to live them. It really isn't all that bad once you figure it all out. Personally, I don't use an Iphone or touch screen, I have to use a blackberry because of the size and shape that fits in my hand.

The last question I received was, "How do you dispense candy from a quarter machine without it going all over the floor?" Good question. Another little fact nobody thinks about. The answer to that is, you don't use loose candy machines, or you use someone elses hand to catch it for you. Brooke would dispense mine and hers...Yes, she was 3 and I was 23, but she never minded, as long as I "shared" my handful with her. Hey, it always works out. But, if your like me, you just go buy a bag of may not last longer, but there will never be any wasted. :)

Love to All,


Monday, January 24, 2011

Mousy Monday!

Today, a received an email from a Mom and mentioned how her daughter carries things under her arm or under her neck when trying to carry more than one thing, due to only having the use of one hand. My answer to this, after I stopped smiling, was ME TOO!!! You have to make use of what you have, however you can. That prompted me to think of all the things I've held using other parts. Not many of you think twice when carrying your phone, drink, and laptop at once. You just pick it up and go. When you have one arm, you have to analyze every situation carefully in order to dodge disaster. Like, laptop in hand, phone under arm, and drink? Drink in hands, laptop under your arm, and phone goes in the mouth. Yes, PERFECT!

Not every situation goes that easy, but they ALL end up working out somehow. Three things you have to remember when living or being around someone with one hand: Your mouth and knees become your second hand and you can pretty much pick anything up with your feet. Sounds freaky, right? Trust me, after my 2nd round of braces, my orthodontist hates that fact! But when you think about it, how do you open a jar? Two hands. Nope, not us. You get on the floor, put it between your knees and after a while it pops right off. How do you open chips? Two hands. Or, if your like me, you pop them and hope the bottom doesn't fall out, or use your teeth. After all these years, just a couple weeks ago, my Aunt asked,"What happened to this bag?" and someone immediately responded with, "Bri opened them." Not only did that start a laughing fit in the house, but everyone wondered, "How the hell did you get it to open like that?" Again, it takes talent. These are types of things you (we) have to figure out on your own. Don't try to help, don't tell me how to do it, and don't mention, "It'll be easier if you just let me do it," because I promise, it's not. I will only ask for help if it goes all over the floor...and chances are, it will not.

Another short-cut to carrying things is to hold it up against you, very tightly. Makes it easier to control what you are holding...unless the thing is an animal, bug, or rodent. I, of course, was the tom-boy of the family. I mean, why not? Of course I wanted to hunt, fish, cut, climb, and anything dare-devilish. I climbed the kitchen cabinets to get what I needed, scaled the chest of drawers, climb fences, and whatever else I had to in order not to ask for help.

My sister wouldn't get near anything muddy, sweaty, or anything dirt related. My lucky mother was horrified at the fact I dug worms, chased mice, and caught every cricket in Ferris. What's wrong with that, you say? I had to bring it all inside to show my days work...held up against me as if the dead rodent was going to leap out of my hand. Grossed her completely out. I then would proceed to chase her and my Sis around the house because they were afraid of bugs and dead I loved it! And yes, leave it to the 2-fingered girl to check mice traps, catch spiders, and rescue them from scary daddy-long legs. But, anyway, that's how I had to hold things because you can't cup anything in a hand with 2 fingers. It would fall through my fingers and tick me off. So, I killed everything that was captured. Sad now that I think about it, but at the time, that was the only logical option. Now, to you Mom's who want to know why everything your one-armed child brings you is dead, you know! It's not out of meanness, but determination. Very different. :o)

There are so many other stories, but I will withhold my grossness for another day. With that, I hope I have made you ready for what you have in store for tomorrow!

Love to All,


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Prosthetics, Part One!

I tried to think of a clever title to this post, but Prosthetics pretty much sums it allllll up!! :)

When born with a missing limb, the first thing someone wants to do is 'fix' if it is broken. Truth is, it's not. Really. Shocker, I know. It is easier to adapt to situations with the limbs we are born with, without the use of a prosthetic limb. I was a patient of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children from birth until they kicked me out at the age of eighteen. Sad, sad day! But, at the age of 6 months I was fitted with my first prosthesis. My Mom and Dad wanted me to have the option of using a 'bionic' arm versus my 'real' arm. Let me just tell you how that went down over the next several years.

I was a loving, quiet little girl throughout my childhood, but when I wanted something I made it known. I am sure my Mom would like to re-write this blog in her own words, but I will tell you the one-arm version. Much. More. Funny. (to me)

So my first arm I remember wearing fit my right arm, of course, and had a sling around my shoulders and when I reached, the fingers would open. I hated it. I cried when I had to wear the thing. There is no feeling, so it's like trying to win a teddy-bear out of one of those claw machines at Cici's. me!! But, they insisted I 'try' to get used to it. So, I used my advantage. When we would go to Walmart, like most 4-5 year old child, I would find a toy I had to have. When my Mom gave me the, "Bri, I'm not buying you the toy" line, I would come back with, "I'm gonna pop my arm off!" If any of you are parents, you know how embarrassing it is when your kid throws a fit in public. I didn't throw fits. I popped my arm off and let it dangle behind me. You want to know how long it took her to say, "Bri, put your arm back on and you can have the toy"? Not long. My poor Mother was given looks you wouldn't believe, but sweet little Bri got what she wanted. A toy and NO.MORE.ARM!!! She did not think it was funny, but I thought it was quite clever. I mean, how many kids can pop their arm off to get what they want? It takes talent.

When I went to Kindergarten, I think the only thing special I used were scissors made for me by TSRHC. Again, like the silverware, they were a hit. Everyone wanted to play with my scissors. By the end of the year, I used real scissors, and the 'cool' ones were no longer needed. But the fun had yet to begin. At the age of four or five I was learning to ride my bike with no training wheels. The arm attached to the handle bars and my arm just popped into it. A simple, but very helpful device. It made it to where I was level with my other arm and could balance myself on the bike. I admit, I loved this arm. I mastered the bike with no training wheels in no time and was all over town on two-wheels. If you don't know, I grew up in a very small town. The kind where you leave your keys in your ignition, your doors unlocked, and your arms on your bike. There wasn't alot of crime, but my sisters bike got stolen a couple times off our porch. Mine wasn't touched. I'm not sure if it was because it was barbie and had strings dangling from the handle bars or because there was an arm attached to the handle bars. My vote is for the latter, but I'll never know. I did not use the arm for more than a couple of years, I still had many body slides across pavement, but again, very helpful.

By the second grade, I had a myo-electric. Back then, it was the new 'bionic' arm. It had a sensor that open the fingers when my nerves hit a certain spot. Annoyed the hell out of me. Took me five minutes to get the pencil to stay in, then when I wrote it would tilt it was not worth the trouble. Kind of fun to wear when you didn't need to do anything, but useless to me when I actually needed to perform. At 8 years old, I didn't stay still long, so it got to hang out in my desk all day. I had a gymnastic arm, so I could do cartwheels like Jessica. And, I did. There was also the claw that I could screw onto it so I could pinch my sister back. My latest prosthetic was the golf arm in high school. Absolutely the best thing ever...for everyones sake. I wanted to play golf with my Dad so bad, but because when I swung, the club went further than the ball, I had to use an arm. It felt amazing to be able to actually hit a ball as far as everyone else. My Mom carted me an hour away twice a week for golf lessons with a professional golfer just so I could have the experience. To this day, I still like to play. Do I play well? No. Do I want to play a round? No. I just like to hit the ball and know that I was able to, even if it meant wearing the arm. I will tell you the contraption I have to get into the make it happen is almost as funny as watching someone swing and miss (not that I ever do), but to know I'm not going to kill anyone when I play, makes it all worth it.

The arms sit and collected dust until Halloween time when they got farmed out for props in neighbors yards. I am pretty sure between El Fenix and Magnolia St., my arms and silverware are still playing roles in very different ways than TSRHC doctors anticipated. But, each one tells a very different story.

So, while you may think it's easierto function with ten fingers and ten toes, it depends who you ask, and what you're trying to accomplish. But, don't think I won't try something just because I don't look able-bodied....because if you know me, you know I will!!

Love to All,


Friday, January 14, 2011

Sisters will be Sisters!

When you think about Sisters, you automatically think of sharing, right? WRONG! The only thing we shared without a fight was the attempt to break into our parents room in the middle of the night to make pallets. Most often than not, we got busted and sent back to our rooms. Or did we? Either way, we were the normal set of siblings who would have loved to have a good swing at each other if the chance was given, but (most) always rekindled our differences.

Le'Ann absolutely hated that I called her 'Sister' well into our teens, and the fact that I got to eat with 'special' silverware made by my cousin and she had to use a 'boring' fork. Eventually, I used the normal silverware and she, along with the rest of the kids, used mine. Anyway, I looked up to her for everything. Well, most everything. Our favorite thing to play was school. We had a life size barbie dollhouse, every barbie, ken, and accessory known to man, a playroom full of babies and God knows what else; and here we were with our parents magazines, playing school. Go figure! But, I always had to be the student because I was youngest and she was oldest. I didn't know at the time I was being had by my own sister, but I played along until Ms. Bossypants made me into her slave. For whatever reason, I think I dropped out of class and resumed to Barbie-land where the only thing that stumped me was trying to braid Barbie's hair like her. Frustrated-the-heck-out-of-me!! She would try to teach me and would say, "Bri, just do it like this!!!!" as if I could whip out my magical fingers and make it happen. Either way, she or Mom would do it, and I would usually mess it right back up. Oh, the fun we had!!

There was a time I recall when she put me our baby's stroller and she ran me into everything in our house. She had a blast, however I could not undo the buckles on the stroller, so I was helpless bait. She would then take my elbow and pinch the fire out of it, again, out of pure meanness! Oh, but when I finally broke free, it was on! I may be little, but when I struck, I left a mark!

Okay, so we didn't ALWAYS argue. There were days we schemed up ideas to get out of going to Church, taking a bath, or doing homework. It was all her idea. I was the angel there for back-up purposes only. (haha!) Did I mention I never got in trouble? I probably should for future reference. It wasn't because I have one arm, it was simply because I was very sensitive and the "look" was all it took to put me into tears. Le on the other hand had enough mouth for both of us, so I let her do the back talking. :)

When we both hit our teens, lord help our parents, it was on! I wanted everything of mine to be mine, she wanted everything of hers to be hers. God help us all if we even eye-balled one anothers closets, make-up, or shoes. We would push, shove, throw punches one minute, and the next, be happy as clams together. Thinking back, there were not too many instances where we were treated any different, or thought about us being any different. We clearly lived the typical sister-sister lifestyle. I remember I always wanted to hang out with her and her friends and I still not 'cool' enough. Well, sweet little Bri decided to turn everyones bras into icicles. A few rounds of that and I became inducted into the 'big-girl' club!

All in all, 'Sister' made me who I am able to be today. Dependent, because if I asked for a favor, it was backfired with, "No, you have two fingers, get it yourself!" Then one of her friends usually came to the rescue (Thanks Summer, Jackie, Jennifer, Kimberly, and anyone else I left out!) A fighter, because...well, if you re-read the blog you will see how much we loved one another. :) LOL..Not really. I could go on, but I want to ease you into our childhood background before I added surgeries, prosthetic limbs flying around, or many of the other theatrical moments most families don't get to encounter!

My Mom always said we would end up being bestfriends when we grew up. As children, we couldn't fathom the thought. But, as usual, she was right!

Love to All,


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Change of Pace!

So as many of you know, I have spent the past two years with my nose stuck in textbooks...(some could probably speak of better places I've had my nose, but whatever!) Anyway, this semester I have decided to change things up and take one whole class. While this makes me very nervous, I think I will find the change of pace a good decision. Life has gotten away from Me lately as it too often does, and I have decided it is time to catch up on the things I have let slip away.

The past two years I have also been involved in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. The experience was absolutely amazing and would recommend it to anyone wanting to make a difference. However, this year I want to challenge myself further (imagine that), so two of my very good friends have me running. While this is an exercise I have shyed away from for the past 25 years, I admit I love the feeling I get when I finish a new goal. So, I hope to be able to run many races in my near future. I guess my next goal would be a half marathon...we will talk about that later In my spare time this semester I am studying for my Series 7 Exam, running between the 2 houses, looking for a job, trying to keep everyone happy...(which is the hardest job of all), and now, blogging the wild, but exciting life of a one-arm girl!!!

Throughout my life people have told me I should write a book or speak about growing up one one arm. While I have never really seen myself as being "different", most people do, with good reason. More often than not, it is due to lack of education on the circumstance, but many times it's pure curiosity. Growing up it bothered me to be stared at everywhere. I. go!! Now, when I see someone who looks like Me, I find myself -staring- as if they have two heads...which would be perfectly normal, right? So, I get it. You can't imagine us being able to do anything, I mean why even try when you have one arm, leg, or neither? Take it from Me, and anyone who has come in contact with Me in the past 25 years, WE TRY HARDER!! I cannot remember the last time I asked for help....even if I need it. I'm not one to give up. I was the first to tie shoes in Kindergarten, fastest typist in Jr. High, and runner up in my Senior Prom. No, I do not like to be singled out, nor do I like the attention...but I know being challenged as a child has made me the independent (too independent at times) person I am today.

Today, I ran across a blog of a Mother who has a 1-year old daughter who also has a limb deficiency due to ABS. It inspired me to start sharing my experiences, hardships, and so many accomplishments. I hope this is the start of a happy, new year of whatever the good Lord has in store!

Love to All,