When climbing a tree, you stay close to the trunk. Climbing out towards the end of a limb is dangerous. The further you climb, the thinner the limb, the higher the chance it will break.
This is the origin of “going out on a limb.” We use this phrase to describe a precarious, unfamiliar, or vulnerable time, when we attempt to achieve something good. A time that will either make us or quite literally, break us.
Upon our son, Luke’s, birth, we could see his little left leg was different. It was not until a trip to Children’s Hospital for diagnosis, a referral to the Rubin Institute of Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, and countless hours of research before we knew the extent of the difference.
Fibular Hemimelia. A rare congenital limb disorder that affects 1 in 40,000 children yearly. So rare that our doctor at Children’s Hospital only sees a case a year, and could not help us. So rare, and for Luke, so progressed, that we will not know the full extent of his condition until he continues to grow.
Right now, Luke’s FH means his fibula is minuscule. His tibia is bowed and twisted. His femur is not growing the proper rate. It means missing bones in his foot, a turned ankle, and a knee that did not develop correctly.
For the past nine months, we have been out on a limb. Precariously inching towards an unknown future or course of treatment while vulnerably relying on the expertise of specialists and our own gut feelings to achieve the best outcome for our son.
But what I do know, is this journey out on the limb will make us. Definitely not break us.
Luke is strong and healthy. He showcases the goofiest, crinkliest smiles that bring laughter to all. His hazel eyes give off an old soul kind of feel like he is wise beyond his years. He stands so sturdy, so tall. His already impressive determination shows when he tries to follow his ever-running sister. And through astounding medical advancements, and God’s remarkable grace, Luke will walk, jump, skip, swim, ski, and whatever he puts his mind to.
Luke’s FH journey has pushed us from trunk to limb. Along the way, we’ve heard the cracking, and felt the bend under the weight of it. We’ve slipped and readjusted to find balance. We’ve closed our eyes and wished for the comfort of the trunk.
But when we gingerly lift our hands to push away the leaves, the anxiety and the unknown, that block sight, we are amazed. When we peel our focus away from what’s below and look around, we are amazed. And when we stop crawling to just sit and take it all in, we are amazed.
Because this view is so much more beautiful than the view from the trunk.
So happy April, and Limb Loss & Limb Difference Awareness Month! If you would, please join me in celebrating and lifting up in prayer, all those who are limb different.
And for anyone else who may also be out on a limb right now, may their views be beautiful!