Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lessons I Have Learned In My Short Life

I don't know about you, but the hardest thing about blogging for me is putting myself out there. My biggest insecurity is the one thing that people seem to want to know the most about. I try and deter people with flashy handbags and my snazzy cut off jeans, but it doesn't seem to be working very well. ;-) Enter... my new series, Lessons I Have Learned In My Short Life.

During each lesson we will discuss questions, situations, past-times, or really anything to do with being short and having children who are also living a "short life." I hope this helps those parents out there who have so many questions about their new miracle that's been diagnosed with Achondroplasia. Or at the very least, maybe it will just help my children help their children.

So, here we go...

Lesson #1: This world isn't going to adapt to me and so I will have to adapt to the world.

All through grade school I was proud to be small, and I do mean PROUD! But then junior high came. I remember that first week so vividly. I was a mere 4'3" tall. I could barely reach a sink faucet, let alone the shelf in my locker. Heaven forbid the school burn down and the whole junior high rely on me to pull the fire alarm...I wouldn't have been able to do it! This was one of the first times I became truly frustrated with being short.

As the year progressed, I would notice my legs losing circulation from sitting in my desks all day without my feet touching the ground. People who know me well, know that I still prefer to sit on the ground anyday, as opposed to sitting in a chair. And as Sawyer grows up I've noticed him doing the same. He struggles to even sit in his booster seat for too long before his legs start to hurt.

One of the hardest things was standing in lines at the movies waiting for snacks or at the grocery store or even the school office! People wouldn't notice me or they'd think I was with the adult next to me. I would wait forever until they noticed me or I'd just leave because I was too embarrassed to speak up. There was a time like this when I realized that people weren't going to change just for me! If I wanted to be noticed then I had to change. Whether that meant using my voice or spiking my hair, something had to change.

That's when I began to consider having my legs lengthened.

The summer between junior high and high school I remember some sort of transformation in my mind. I'm not sure entirely what happened but I became determined to have my legs lengthened. I was so tired of being so small in such a huge environment. I had anxiety about learning to drive, going to dances, getting a job, etc. I spent the summer at my brother's house in Connecticut when I said to my sister-in-law, "I want to have my legs lengthened, but I don't think mom and dad believe me." She came up with an idea. Oh and was it ever a great idea! We sat down together and made the list, "20 Reasons Why I Want to be TALL!"

I showed it to my parents when I returned to Idaho and then I mailed a copy to my doctor in Salt Lake City, who was also hesitant. I waited...and waited...and waited a whole TWO weeks for him to respond. And when he didn't? I sent another letter with, "20 More Reasons Why I Want to be TALL!" I had my parents convinced, but more importantly I had to convince the one man who could actually perform the operation. Within the week, he had sent his response.


Vanessa said...

Thank you for putting yourself out there to talk about your experience. As a mom of a 1 year old with hypochondroplasia, I really value your perspective. This subject in particular is already a hot topic in our house. My husband says "and there's limb lengthening if she wants to do it...." and I say back, "how can we raise her her whole childhood telling her she's perfect as she is and then condone limb lengthening"? Of course, we have no idea right now how she'll feel about it, but I am hoping that she'll be happy with herself as she is. If she does want to do surgery, how could I say no? But how do I know what what she feels as an adolescent is the same as she'll feel later- that is such a delicate time... anyway- I love hearing your perspective and can't wait to read more!

Tiffany said...

Hi Vanessa!
I hear this so much and I have felt this myself, that if I even give my child the option of having their legs lengthened, then I am somehow suggesting to them that they aren't perfect. But in my opinion,it's all about perspective.
This surgery can be seen as cosmetic. Meaning it's use is to help the child fit in or appear average. But for me is was about adapting. Like using glasses or having hearing aids. I didn't use the surgery to make myself tall and lengthy, I simply added 6" to adapt. Now I can do the laundry or drive a car without a stool or pedal extensions. Does that make sense?
I also believe that each child and their parents should make this decision carefully and in their own time. My parents were very hesitant and we spent years discussing this operation. They were prayful and thoughtful before allowing me to do it and it has been the best decision I've made for myself, but that's the only person I can speak for.