Hi. My name is Trish.
I was born in 1962, I am a Thalidomide survivor.
The drug Thalidomide caused serious damage to my body.
How did the drug affect me? For starters, I have no arms, I have three little fingers attached to a little hand that basically comes out of the side of my shoulders. There was also heaps of internal damage done to my heart and lungs which has resulted in numerous open-heart operations, and I still have more in the pipeline.
As I like to say ‘thalidomide is the drug that just keeps on giving’. What I mean by that is, not only did it destroy my body the day Mum took the tablet, it is still destroying my body today and every day that I’m still here. Mum has lived with so much guilt but it wasn’t her fault, it has been hard to watch her carry so much guilt.
My childhood was of course very different to any other child. I didn’t walk until I was nearly 7 and then I had to be carried everywhere (by mum, family and even my teachers carried me from classroom to classroom), until I had major heart surgery when I was 12. Although they repaired my heart I still get extremely tired very quickly. I can’t walk far and I can’t walk uphills/stairs as I get breathless, so I never knew the joy of running and skipping – the everyday childhood fun that was taken off me because of thalidomide.
Thalidomide created my very confronting body image and the hardest part I think, is living with the cruelness of people. The bullying has been horrid to say the least, and that’s not just by other kids who are bad enough but by adults who are just as bad, if not worse. I have had doctors look down on me and say I am worthless and that I would never amount to anything. I have had doctors poking and probing my body like a lab rat because my body is “so different” with no compassion as to how they were treating me. One doctor told me “I would never have friends” because who would want to be friends with someone with no arms”? One doctor said “I am too weird to know what he was looking at!” I have had physiotherapists say they won’t treat me because my body is too different. It amazes me how some doctors and specialists I’ve visited, don’t even know what Thalidomide is or what it did to unborn babies … and yet they still prescribe it.
It amazes me how people think they have the right to say the most horrid things to me when I’m out in public..
The pain in my body is horrendous and extremely debilitating. I need knee and hip replacements but have been told that I can’t have them as mechanical ones don’t bend the way I need my body to bend, just so that I can eat and drink. Feet weren’t meant to be hands but that is exactly how I must do everything, since I have no arms, thanks to thalidomide. Can you imagine getting dressed and eating or cleaning your teeth with your feet, every day?
It is no wonder my body is falling apart … Thanks to Thalidomide
Despite these obstacles in life I have not let that stop me from enjoying life. I have accomplished things that many people around me (Including – family – Doctors – medical professionals – the government) said I couldn’t do. I finished mainstream school, found jobs, got married and had a child of my own.
Even though my body is now in constant pain I don’t let that stop me from my hobbies, including fishing, sailing, photography and drawing. I do all these things with my feet as my feet are my hands.
I can now add that I do public speaking as well – my talks are about my life, coping with negativity and living in a confronting body image. Read more…