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Poland's Syndrome


Message 1 of 1

Claudia - I saw your note posted so recently and decided to reply. I was searching the web regarding PS myself. I'm 43, and knew I was "different" since a small child, but was never diagnosed. I have a short left arm, incomplete joints at the furthest joint in my left hand (including thumb), no left pectoral muscles, and no hair under the left arm. My left hand is four glove sizes smaller than my right. I never knew I had a "disability", as a child, and so I simply learned to do things my own way. I've compensated for almost everything over the course of my life, but there are some things that remain difficult - though not impossible. Like using fingernail clippers or tweezers effectively, or buttoning shirts (which is only tough on the cuff of the right sleeve). But I'm also a scratch golfer and have Captained the military Ryder Cup equivalent team. I decided early in life that I wanted to be a military officer. When I applied to join the Air Force, they didn't know quite what to make of it. "Poland's Syndrome" hadn't been coined as a phrase yet. So they decided to put me through a battery of every-day dexterity tests - picking a coin up from a table surface, clicking a ball point pen, buttoning my shirt - all of which I could do. I've been in the Air Force 21 years now, and have seen action in every major US event overseas except Somalia since Reagan took office. I flew B-52's for a long time, and now command a sort of special operations squadron. Nobody treats me any different. Only rarely does anyone notice the difference in my hands (although getting a good pair of gloves is a real pain). I've taken some ribbing over the years from ignorant people who've seen me at the beach or in a gym without a shirt on (I'd always rather be a "shirt" than a "skin"), but I've never replied to those people, and just consider them to have a bad brain clutch (you know - that thing betweeen your brain and mouth that keeps stupid stuff from coming out!). I have two wonderful sons who have no symtpoms - the oldest is 16. My point is that a lot of what happens will depend on the severity of the hand clubbing and your attitude as parents. There are certainly lots of ways to handle it, and corrective surgery - although far from perfect - is a better possibility now than 40 years ago. But its also very possible to grow up not knowing anything is wrong, maybe knowing you're a little "different", and adapt. It worked fine for me, and I think I've gone a lot further in my career and ambition than I might have if I'd been treated as "handicapped" or "special". I wish you didn't have to go through this, and that your son was perfect in every way possible. But God does find some strange ways of challenging His human flock - and we generally rise to the occassion. In the words of Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge "improvise, adapt, and overcome". I hope and wish the best for you and your family, and for everyone who has to play the game of life with a few less cards than eveyone else. Jim G.


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