Thalidomide Baby

March, 1998

Once upon a time there was a drug called Thalidomide. It was a wonder drug--a miracle cure for ďmorning sicknessĒ. Iím a guy so Iíve obviously never been pregnant but constantly puking doesnít sound like fun to me so I understand why women would want a pill for it! This one was hailed as a perfect solution for an age old problem: doctors were finally able to help women feel better during those first months of pregnancy and drug company profits were up. Everyone was happy! Until...

Babies started being born with physical deformities. Some had no arms, some no legs, and some had neither. At first, no one knew why. After a time, they began to realize that most of these childrenís mothers had taken Thalidomide during their pregnancies. Slowly, it was accepted that the ďperfect solutionĒ for morning sickness had consequences far beyond anyoneís imagination.

Iím a ďThalidomide babyĒ. Obviously, Iím not a baby anymore, but thatís how Iím referred to. I graduated from high school in 1976 and from college in 1980. Iíve got a degree in computer technology. (Binary code makes sense to me--I only have two fingers!) Anyway, I married in Ď81 and opened my own business in Ď85. My kids are 12, 10, and 9. I have a pretty normal life. Except...

My arms end just below what would normally be an elbow and my legs are malformed, too. Iíve never walked, run, or ridden a bike. Iíve never thrown a baseball, caught a football, or played a guitar. For years I struggled with prosthetic hands but they only frustrated me. I use a simple, old-fashioned hook, its what I grew up with, and Iím used to it. I live every day with the consequences of my motherís actions. She didnít mean to hurt me, and Iíve never known what it was to have legs, so I canít really say I ďmissĒ them. I wonder some times what my life would be like if Thalidomide had never been invented, but...


HINT: So was the institution of adoption! Everyone is dealt their own cards in life, their own unique situations, and we all must learn to live our own lives, find our own purpose, and make our own happiness without blaming others for our circumstances.

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