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ss triple helix - winter 2003,  Look No Hands (Book Review)

Look No Hands (Book Review)

Look No Hands - Brian Gault with Helena Rogers - Hodder & Stoughton 2000 - £6.99 Pb 200 pp - ISBN 0 34074 636 X

Although born without arms as a result of thalidomide, Brian Gault's description of his life is warm and encouraging, intertwining the themes of his Christian faith and living without arms. His story still has pertinence today. Thalidomide is used in developing countries to treat leprosy but sadly, inadequate explanations, or written explanations to illiterate people, lead to affected children being born. Proceeds from the book go to help these children.

Much of the book is about his struggle to be free of artificial limbs. I nearly cried as he describes being left in hospital aged two years for artificial limb training. He endures hardships that make me wonder about the sufferings of today's prosthesis wearers. He was expected to maintain a low weight to maximise efficiency of his limbs, leading to two miseries - his calorie restricted diet and squeezing into his limbs after his mum had fed him up in the holidays!

He later realises that his mother loves him just as he is, but you can understand why he should doubt this. Later he describes his desire to 'be himself' rather than be forced to wear artificial limbs that restrict his abilities rather than enhance them. This reminds me of the need to retain the patient's perspective of interventions, as we cannot assume that our own normality is preferable. Brian Gault eventually gives up artificial limbs at 13, the same year that he discovers Jesus loves him.

The landmarks of his Christian life such as youth groups, conferences and Christian service, will be shared by many, although solving problems such as how to get your shirt tucked in at Bible College will be new! He goes on to learn how to use new technology, such as his foot-steered car and word processor, to liberate his energy and time. This is a warm and readable book - read it and pass it on.

Reviewed by
Caroline Hutchings
Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine in Southampton

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