(Not as tall as I used to be)
Being in my wheelchair is so challenging at times because I am short and people don’t see me. I thought I was short in high school, being only 5ft 2 inches. I try to be very aware of my surroundings, but since I only sit about 4 feet high, I am always getting bumped into. Have you ever been waiting in a line at a store and the person standing in front of you just backs up? Next thing you know they are tripping over you and falling in your lap. I usually just say – If you wanted a place to sit, all you have to do is ask nicely. Seriously, does it ever just get to you, being so short? I was disappointed this past summer when I went back east to visit my niece and nephews- who are 6, 7, 11 and 12. All of them are now taller than me, even my youngest nephew who is only 6. I do have to say, giving kids rides on my lap is so much fun because it gives them a different perspective of my wheelchair. Next thing you know I became an amusement ride and the kid’s line up to take turns for a ride on Aunt Tammy’s lap.
It is an interesting world when you are so short. I love being stuck in a crowd and all I can see is people’s behinds or the front of them. Also, with the different fashion trends now-a-days, people who wear their pants low I have one thing to say “Pull up your pants!” I don’t need to see your underwear so up close and personal. I remember when I went to a Grateful Dead concert in college, right before Jerry Garcia passed away, I was suffocating because I got stuck in the crowd. My friend was with me and we kept moving our way up to the front .The further we went, the more we got stuck. It got to the point where we could not move in any direction and were completely stuck in a particular spot. It was so crowded and hot that day, I started hyperventilating and was dehydrated. Then I felt like I was going to faint. My friend tried to get a hold of the medic’s, but the crowd just wouldn’t move. Once we finally got the medic’s attention, they couldn’t get to me and I was getting worse. So we had only one solution- lift me up in my wheelchair. I thought no way, but I didn’t care I just needed to get out of that crowd. So, right before the Grateful Dead came out onto the stage, the crowd picked me up while I was still in my wheelchair, and people carefully passed me over the crowd and put me on the concert stage. I guess you can say I crowd surfed in my wheelchair at a Grateful Dead concert! That is not something that happens everyday. After I was placed on the stage, and even though I wasn’t feeling well, I couldn’t help myself, I turned around and looked at the endless sea of people. Then I put my hand up like – YEAH!! I will never forget that moment being on the stage that Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead played on. The story ends with me resting in the medic tent for a while and then I enjoyed the concert in a safe location.
Another thing about being short is that I often feel left out of conversations too. I will be sitting in a group, and while people are talking they are all eye level with each other, except me. Sometimes I miss out on what people are saying or I will try to talk and people won’t hear me. I have tried numerous times to vocalize so people can hear me, but I feel like I am yelling. Also, if I am wheeling in the mall or cruising around somewhere it can be tough to have a conversation with someone that is able-bodied because I am often looking down towards the ground. I often look down while I am wheeling because I am trying to avoid things like cracks in a sidewalk. Or if I am not looking where I am going I could run right into someone. I am jealous of the people that have lifts in their wheelchairs. I love the power wheelchairs that elevate, or the IBOT that goes up on two wheels. I got a chance to try an IBOT out and it was amazing. There are even manual wheelchairs out on the market that act as a standing frame and it is pretty cool. Being at eye-level is something I miss, but being short makes it easy to win a limbo contest!
~Short, yet Sweet~