I like this photo of Abigail and Brittany Hensel, as it shows so well their different personalities. They are not one girl with two heads, but two girls with one body.
It is fascinating reading about them, and how they are such lovely well-balanced young adults, when they must have had so much more challenge that the rest of us.
In medical terms, their body is fascinating:
- 2 heads, 2 spines, 2 spinal cords, 2 hearts, 4 lungs, 2 stomachs, 2 gall bladders, 3 kidneys
- 2 arms, 1 broad ribcage, 2 breasts, 1 diaphragm, 1 liver, 1 bladder, 1 set of reproductive organs
The Daily Mail reports some fascinating aspects to their lives:
They also stunned doctors with their astonishing co-ordination while playing the piano, with Abigail taking the right-hand parts and Brittany the left.
They enjoyed sports such as bowling, volleyball, cycling, softball and swimming.
And on their 16th birthday they passed their driving test, a mind-boggling feat of teamwork with each twin using one arm to control the steering wheel.
Speaking at the time, their mother Patty, a registered nurse, conceded that could have been a problem.
‘I don’t know what would happen if they got pulled over for speeding. Would they each get a ticket or just Abby because it’s her foot on the accelerator?’
Maybe they could get off by blaming each other
‘When children ask the girls if they have two heads, they say they don’t but that each has their own head. That’s what we have encouraged them to do, to develop their own individuality as much as possible.’
That has meant buying two seats every time they go to the cinema – even though only one will be used – separate meals and two different birthday cakes with candles each year. If one of the twins misbehaves, Patty and Mike are careful to scold the individual responsible – even if the other has been dragged unavoidably into the misdeed.
I like the buying two seats at the cinema, and yes it must be difficult for the parents not to instinctively tell both of them off for the misdeeds of one.
What is perhaps most touching about Abigail and Brittany, however, is their ability to get on – despite their different personalities. They seldom argue, despite Abigail always wanting to be the leader and – according to their mother – liking ‘to rule the whole house’.
One twin will scratch an itch the other cannot reach or hold her hand still so the other can count during a maths lesson and when Brittany was ill with pneumonia and couldn’t keep the medicine down, Abigail volunteered to take it in the hope of making her twin better.
All twins have a special bond, but that is really lovely.
What if one of the twins detests the boy the other one likes? Will they have children – a choice they must both make in tandem because they share one reproductive system?
There is no medical reason why they shouldn’t be able to have children and they have in the past said they would like to start a family.
That is certainly the most challenging area, but you know they have achieved so much already despite their so rare circumstances, than I think and hope they will. They’ve already both graduated from university.
At first I was a bit sad they are doing a reality TV show, as I thought it might make them “celebrity freaks”, but I read how they hate people who stare and take photos of them. By doing the TV show, it will normalise them as people to millions of people – which means hopefully that in the future there will be less staring and photos.Tags: Abigail Hensel, Brittany Hensel