When Tampa police Chief Jane Castor moves her hand, it is hard to spot the fake fingertip.
Her new silicon prosthetic, which fits on top of her right pointer finger, looks astonishingly like the rest. It even has a fingerprint that matches her other pointer's.
On Monday, Castor went to Westcoast Brace & Limb to pick up her just-finished prosthetic. She'd lived with a shortened finger for more than four months — ever since she accidently severed the tip just above her upper knuckle while on her boat.
She had to learn how to pull her sidearm and fire with her middle finger. She'd struggled with typing. She still hopes to learn how to play the piano.
"It looks good," Castor said, checking out her hand. "Actually, it's amazing."
The police chief has scoffed at the community's interest in her finger. She told reporters at a July news conference that the situation wasn't newsworthy.
But the science and art behind the prosthetic? That she likes.
She was so fascinated by it all that she brought her sons to Westcoast Brace & Limb on Sunday so that they could check out the in-house lab, where employees make braces and prosthetic parts from scratch.
They can make — or customize — whatever they want because of that lab, explained Westcoast's Jennifer Robinson. Recently, they built a specialized arm for a new mother so that she could safely lift her baby from its crib.
Robinson's husband, David Robinson, made Castor's fingertip. He has a bachelor's degree in studio art and can mold models and apply color theory to make prosthetics look real.
He made a plastic prototype for Castor based on the inverse of her left pointer finger. Then, with Castor sitting next to him last week, he mixed pigment with silicon and painted it to look like her other fingers. Then he added an acrylic nail.
"I can even paint it," the chief joked, knowing that's not her style.
Mostly, she's pleased she'll be able to type with ease again.
"That and picking things up — a lot of the functions you take for granted," she said. "I have that all back now. It's nice."
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.