Tag Archives: dwarfism awareness month

Dwarfism Awareness Month – 2017 (Part 3)

15 Oct

Following on from Parts 1 and 2 of my 2017 Dwarfism Awareness Month blog post (https://lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/dwarfism-awareness-month-2017/ and https://lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/dwarfism-awareness-month-2017-part-2/), this is the third instalment of my list of ways that I live my life a little differently as a result of having Pseudoachondroplasia.

The focus of the list this week is very much ‘getting dressed’. It seems that just about everything I have to do each morning has been altered in some way to overcome the limitations my body has as a result of pseudoachondroplasia… dwarfism difficulties on the daily!

Week 3:

15. Before I even get to getting dressed, I have to sit down to dry myself with a towel – my balance isn’t good enough to stand on one leg whilst drying the other, as my knees move sideways (inwards). Thankfully, for hotel rooms where there may not be a seat in the bathroom… a toilet (with the seat down!) does the job just fine too!

16. To put deodorant on, I have to crawl my hand up the wall sometimes, to get my arm up high enough. My shoulder is becoming increasingly badly behaved, and painful (it’s one of the joints expected to cause a problem as a result of this condition) so I simply cannot get my arm up high enough without some support any more – the same reason even some of the middle-height shelves in shops are now out of my reach too!

17. For the same ‘dodgy shoulder’ reason, I lay down to blow-dry my hair. I can’t get my arm up without weight in my hand, so holding a hairdryer and holding my arm in the air for some time just is not going to happen! So, I lay on my bed, with my head near the edge – and gravity helps me hold the hairdryer up near my head… my shoulder still hurts, but at least I don’t have to go out with wet hair each morning!

18. Bras. I have to do that ‘do it up at the front and shimmy it around my body’ thing. The movement in my shoulders is so limited that I simply couldn’t reach to do up the clasp behind my back. It’s for this same reason that I have to select clothing with some thought as to whether or not I can do up the zip/buttons on it… any sort of clasp/button/zip at the back of a top or dress, or even one at the side, means I can’t get dressed with ease, so I do tend to stick to ‘pull it on’ stretchy fabrics.

19. If I’m wearing trousers, I have to sit down to put them on (none of this stand and put one leg in at a time thing, not with my lack of balance!), or if it’s a dress, I often put it on by stepping into it, as my shoulders won’t let me reach up to put a dress on over my head. I’m working on the range of movement in my shoulders, but I’m yet to get dressed ‘normally’!

20. On particularly painful days, I cannot reach down to my feet to put on socks or shoes… so I have to rest my feet on something closer to my body and put them on whilst seated. It does mean for people who have a ‘no shoes in the house’ policy, that I will need to sit on your floor by the door before I can leave, as it’s the only way I can get my shoes back on!

21. My choice of clothes is not dictated purely by which I will be able to alter to fit my body, nor by which items of clothing I will be able to fasten easily… but when I’m out shopping – I am very aware of which types of clothing may hide features of my dwarfism that I still feel very uncomfortable about, or which I may want to avoid buying because they put my legs/scars in clear view of others – and I can do without the extra attention! For example, it’s rare that I will wear shorts, or a skirt/short dress without tights or leggings – whilst so many people tell me I should be proud of my collection of scars that cover my legs, as they show what I’ve gone through – I see them as a reminder of my differences, so I’d rather they were hidden as much as possible. And skirts can accentuate my super-curved spine if I’m not careful, as there can be too much of a gap between my back and the waistband of the skirt. I also tend to opt to wear longer sleeved tops, as I really hate my upper arms – they’re short, and bulky (not just because I need to go on a proper diet! but because that’s how our arms are, when we have pseudoachondroplasia). It’s all of these factors that result in me being far from the stereotypical woman… I hate clothes shopping!

 

I’ll post Part 4 within the next week or so, which will contain the remaining few odd ways I alter my life, and some of the more significant, considerable changes I make because I have dwarfism (some of them perhaps my friends may not even be aware of)… showing, as I always try to, that having dwarfism is more than just being short!

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Dwarfism Awareness Month – 2017 (Part 2)

8 Oct

As I said a week ago (lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/dwarfism-awareness-month-2017/), for this year’s Dwarfism Awareness Month, I’m listing little ways that I live my life differently because I have pseudoachondroplasia. I posted the first 7 in the original post. So, the next 7, for this week….

8. I open a lot of packaging (including bottles, on occasion) with my teeth… thankfully my teeth seem to take it and are yet to be damaged as a result – but often I don’t have the strength in my hands/fingers to open them the ‘normal’ way! Doesn’t help that my hands are so small, so I can’t get a proper grip around lids!

9. Again because of the small hands – when there is the option, I’ll use smaller cutlery. The average cutlery is designed for bigger hands and makes it tricky to control them! So… if you see me using the ‘wrong’ cutlery in a restaurant for the wrong course, it isn’t just that I’m clueless about cutlery etiquette!

10. I wear shoes meant for children. For girls, or for boys – I don’t really care – but they fit (sort of) the length of my UK size 1 feet. No adults shoes come small enough for these feet… and whether they be shoes for adults or children, none of them are really wide enough as the feet of people with this condition are veryyyy wide – so whatever I’m wearing, my feet have been squeezed in! A small positive of having dwarfism? Cheaper shoes. 😉

11. And clothes… I have lots of them adjusted. From trousers that are WAY too long, to sleeves on jackets and coats which fall way below my hands (short arms, as well as short legs are part of this condition!), I’ve had many trips to tailors over the years! An expensive requirement of living with dwarfism… unless you’re happy to look as though your clothes are drowning you!

12. With clothes in mind! Sometimes there isn’t the time, or I don’t want to spend yet more money on alterations… so I come up with faster solutions! I often roll up sleeves on shirts/tops/jumpers… and have discovered that cutting the ends off flip-flops is a far easier option than trying to cram my wide feet into children’s Summer shoes! Tricky trying to look presentable this way though!

13. It isn’t just clothes I come up with quick solutions for where alterations in my life are required! Sitting at a desk for my PhD research most of the time, I have a chair designed for my body – the seat depth is shorter so that the backs of my knees don’t rub against the seat – the arm rests can be adjusted to be higher so my short arms have somewhere to rest… but if I’m to sit at the correct height for the desk, my feet still don’t touch the floor! There are options for foot rests specifically for desk work, but I don’t use one… stacks of books, or a cardboard box work equally as well – and I’ve been known to use both!

14. This one is probably one of the stranger ones… I have my nails ‘done’ (acrylic nails) regularly. Not because I want crazily long nails, nor because I want them to be glitzy… but because naturally, my nails are super wide (to match my wide fingers), and as a result, are flat. Because they’re flat (without that natural curve of the average fingernail…) when they grow, they bend and look awful. So, whether or not it fools others into thinking the same, to me, with acrylic nails, my hands appear a little more normal. And with the right colour polish, sometimes the nails make my fingers seem a bit longer too (or so I think…)!

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Dwarfism Awareness Month – 2017

1 Oct

Dwarfism Awareness Month… it’s here again! For the last three years, I have written a post for this month, highlighting what living with a form of dwarfism (for me, Pseudoachondroplasia) can be like. Last year, I summarised how my life to date has included a range of surgeries (https://lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2016/10/). The year before, I summarised the physical differences that are associated with my particular type of dwarfism (https://lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2015/10/). And in 2014, I gave a few examples of how the condition impacts my life (https://lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2014/10/). This year, I’ve decided to list as many points as there are days in this month, which highlight the smaller ways that I live my life differently as a result of having pseudoachondroplasia, and once again, demonstrate that dwarfism isn’t just ‘being short’. I’ll post a few each week, updating this post as the month goes on.

So, here goes, Dwarfism Awareness Month – Week 1:

1.I drive distances that the ‘average’ person would walk. Walking long distances causes a whole load of pain, and wears down my joints which will already need replacing at a young age (already have new hips!) – whilst risking appearing lazy to others, driving is worth it, to save the pain! I’ve also discovered recently that I walk a considerable amount of extra steps than a person of average height, over the same distance, as my stride is so small – about an extra 1/3 of steps – great for the FitBit count… but it does mean the pain kicks in after a relatively short distance too!

2. I use deep heat and pain killers more and more frequently, to help with the joint pain that I live with on a daily basis. I try to avoid medication where I can, and cope with the constant ache in my knees and shoulders, but when the pain gets worse – there is nothing else for it! Sadly, paracetamol doesn’t touch it, and I’m yet to find a suitable pain killer that I can take to help the pain, whilst avoiding being drowsy so I can actually function!

3. I sit down at every opportunity. Yep… to keep the pain to a minimum! Walking hurts, but standing still does too – so whether it’s on a chair, a step or the floor – I’ll sit where and when I need to.

4. I have a little stool in my shower – as I cannot balance on one leg whilst shaving the other (!) as my knee bends inwards if I stand on one leg. A simple solution, but a necessary addition to my shower!

5. Speaking of my shower… I often stay in there for an excessively long time. As I don’t have a bath, it’s the next best way to ease the pain in my joints – the hot water works wonders! I’ve also got a collection of hot water bottles and heated blankets for the same reason – heat is the best thing for my knees.

6. Another stool I have in my flat is a step-stool. Without it, I couldn’t reach half of the cupboards, nor close the blinds in my kitchen, or open the highest windows.

7. When shopping in supermarkets, and other shops with high shelves, I have to ask for the assistance of staff/other shoppers to reach things for me. If there isn’t someone nearby to ask, I have been known to climb a few shelves to get things myself…

 

They’re the more obvious things… the more obscure will be added as the month goes on!

 

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p.s. I’d like to also add that if anyone who reads this is curious about anything else that may be different in life because of the condition, or you too have pseudoachondroplasia and think of something I haven’t mentioned, please feel free to ask me to address it in this post as the month goes on! Just send over an email to rubysallen@hotmail.com

Dwarfism Awareness: 2016

13 Oct

It’s October, which means that it is Dwarfism Awareness Month again. It’s the month where I like to try and summarise quite quickly some information about Pseudoachondroplasia – the form of dwarfism that I have.

Last year, I summarised physically how the genetic condition has formed me physically – from misshapen joints, to short stature, and an extra-curvy spine: https://lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/pseudoachondroplasia-the-low-down-dwarfism-awareness/

The year before that, I demonstrated in photos a few situations where having this condition can make navigating various aspects of life and environments a little extra challenging, and touched on how the disability can make an impact on a person emotionally: https://lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/little-things-about-little-me-dwarfism-awareness-month/

This year, I thought I’d try to summarise how living with a form of dwarfism is a life-long thing, which simply isn’t ‘just being a bit short’, as many people seem to think!

Whilst what I’m showing is simply my own experience of how dealing with the condition has interfered with my life, it does begin to show how people with pseudoachondroplasia have to build in time for medical interventions in their lives… and it’s worth noting that there are a whole load of other surgeries that pseudoachondroplasia can cause need for, including some pretty nasty spinal surgeries.

Pseudolifechart.jpg

From the age of 3, when I was diagnosed, I have had many, many hospital/doctor/surgical appointments, with daily injections beginning at 5 years old, and my first major surgery when I was 7. Most recently, I have had two total hip replacements, and there have been various operations between. Next on the list will be a knee replacement, as my right knee is becoming more painful as time goes on (the cartilage is wearing down to nothing).

… And in the future? More hip replacements. Knee replacements. Probably shoulder surgery, with possible replacement. Constant worsening pain as osteoarthritis spoils my joints.

My attitude is just to get on with it; Pseudoachondroplasia is a part of my life and it’s something that I need to juggle with everything else, but I want this post to highlight – for anyone hoping to learn more about dwarfism during this awareness month – that living with a form of dwarfism is not always just ‘being a bit shorter than average’. Dwarfism is needing to adjust life to living with a body far from the average, it is enduring constant pain, it is spending time in hospital, being operated on, and for some, it can also be dealing with prejudice and bullying.

For those who would like to know more about the details of the surgeries I’ve mentioned, how pseudoachondroplasia has played a part in my life, or more about the condition itself… there are plenty of other blog posts for that 🙂 If there are still questions unanswered, I’m always happy to have readers make contact ( rubysallen@hotmail.com or facebook.com/rubysoniaallen ). I’ll try my best to answer anything that may help spread awareness and understanding 🙂

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Little Things About Little Me… (Dwarfism Awareness Month)

31 Oct

I said at the beginning of October (Dwarfism Awareness Month) that I would post at the end of the month a collection of the photos and thoughts I’ve had in the past 31 days about how dwarfism may impact my life in ways that others may not generally realise… so here I am, with my list of 4 areas…. 🙂

1. The Obvious One.

StoolsPetrol  Out of reach (general) Library shelves Blind cord Bar Height

The height of the environments I enter.

Whether it be seating, reaching things on shelves in the library, not being able to adjust blinds because the cord is out of my reach, or being pretty much face level at the bar when I go out, there are so many many things that everyone of average height seem to take for granted. It probably can’t be helped in some situations, but there are some which could be altered to suit everyone- and to live with lots of minor challenges like this every day is really quite frustrating.

2. Clothes.

Clothes shopping – most girls’ dream. My nightmare. Firstly there is this situation:

Clothes in shop

Not many people can reach ALL of the clothes on a wall like this with ease, but at 4ft 9″, without asking for help (which, for those who know me, you’ll know I don’t like to do!) my choice of clothes is limited by what is in reach!

Then there are the clothes themselves…

Sleeves

Sleeves and trousers are forever too long. It’s my limbs that make me as short as I am, so getting clothes to fit them is a nightmare. I roll/scrunch sleeves up, I fold the ends of jeans up under boots, and I envy all of those who have the normal ‘I can’t find a pair of jeans to fit’ problem! haha!

The same with shoes…

Uggs

Shoe shopping is probably my least favourite type of shopping. With short and wide feet being part of Pseudoachondroplasia, finding any shoes to fit is a challenge which could reduce a girl to tears! I don’t have tears for that though, so I live in Ugg boots, boots that are actually too long for my feet, and flip flops… but it’s a factor of dwarfism which is a constant daily reminder, when I can’t choose a pair of shoes based on them ‘matching an outfit’!

3. The Pain.

It isn’t the case for every type of dwarfism, but for Pseudoachondroplasia, there is a lot of pain involved – on a daily basis. Most of my joints crunch, crack and click as I move, they ache when it’s cold, and they stop me from being a particularly physically active individual. There’s the additional consideration of not wanting to wear out arthritic joints to the point where they need replacing super-early too… I’ve already had my hips replaced, so I’m now very wary of wearing out my knee joints as I know they’ll need replacing in the not so distant future too. Because of all of this pain (which I try to hide from others), I have to alter my lifestyle. It involves a lot of driving, in an adapted car.

Car Pedals

I have pedal extensions so I can reach them with ease. My car is essential to me though… as even little walks to the shops could result in some length of pain for me, which is avoidable by driving. It does mean however, that to those who don’t understand the effects of Pseudoachondroplasia – I seem incredibly lazy!

And finally….

4. Social Situations.

Whilst I’m quite confident around people I know, I lose my confidence the moment I catch someone staring or hear someone commenting about my height/appearance in public. I’ve written about it before in other posts, and also touched on how emotionally it has an impact ( https://lifewithpseudoachondroplasia.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/true-emotions-self-acceptance/ ) but I thought I’d add a little reminder for those reading this who may not have considered it before – how much of an impact a little negative comment from you could make if you pass a comment on someone with dwarfism – it’s enough living with all the challenges of Dwarfism every day without having to deal with that too!

This little poem I wrote a while ago seemed to make a point before, so I will post it again, to reiterate my point..

“Just one woman, diagnosed soon after birth, with a growth disorder, what is she worth?
Being called midget, elf, disabled, short, a freak?
Or to be treated as equal to anyone you might meet?

Yes she is short, she may struggle to walk, doing certain things in life requires a little extra thought,
But more often than not that will not hold her back, until she experiences another verbal attack.

Life presents her with enough little battles without having to suffer ‘behind her back’ cackles,
Thoughtless comments and passing remarks, may seem nothing to you but they break her heart.

She knows that her stature makes her stand out,
She’ll never be able to see above all the crowds,
But having it held against her just should not be allowed.

So just take a minute to think it all through, before you comment; imagine it was you;
Who was born a little different and ‘not quite the same’…
Would you want to be labelled and be called names?

She is just one woman, with huge life ambition,
Just one woman, who gives life her best,
She just happens to have a medical condition,
And deserves to be treated just like all the rest.”

I hope for those not ‘in the know’ about it already, that this post has made you more aware of some of the aspects of dwarfism you may not have previously considered. As always, if you have any questions about anything I write, or want to ask any other questions, feel free to contact me – rubysallen@hotmail.com – I’m all for passing on my knowledge 🙂

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