Height in my family is a bit of a mixture on my mum’s side of the family, There is my auntie (my mum’s younger sister) who is quite tall, but my mum is of average height (5’4″). Her brother and older sister are also tall. My grandad was tall, and I can remember when we were younger that my sister who is two years younger than me had a growth spurt and was suddenly a lot taller than I was – everybody said she took after my grandad in that respect. On my dad’s side of the family, everyone is more or less of average height, but I haven’t seen some of my cousins for years so I’m not sure about their height . My uncle (my dad’s brother) is slightly taller than him.
Height and growth has always been an issue for me ever since I was born weighing 2 lbs 6 oz and 37 cm in length. I had a lot of developmental delays , and took forever to gain weight. I was classified as anorexic for at least the first 10 years of my life if not more. This was no thanks to my hydrocephalus, because for the first 11 years of my life I had symptoms practically all the time and was in and out of hospital constantly. I couldn’t keep food or even water down because one of the symptoms I had was persistent vomiting, and due to the developmental delays doctors were also concerned that I wasn’t absorbing food properly. My experience of height has not really been very interesting since I was in the last few years of infant school . I had my growth spurt really early on, just like other growing up related things happened for me early on. I got my first period when I was 9 1/2 years old. I was the tallest in my class until I got to secondary school, which was where I was considered average height or even short by some people.
After that initial growth spurt, I stayed where I was.
My height is about 5 foot 2 inches, so I find getting trousers/long skirts that are the right length so that they fit well and also won’t get caught in the wheels of my wheelchair a huge challenge. My partner Alfredo always has to end up taking the hems up. Finding long sleeved tops where the sleeves are the right length is also difficult, especially if the top is made out of the material that means the slaves cannot easily be rolled up (for example tops that are made out of fine material such as lace where if you roll their sleeves that they will just roll right back down again – the type of top that I love ). I occasionally have to look at the Petite ranges of clothing in shops, and I find that this is a good tactic to avoid the hems of my trousers/skirts having to be taken up. Sometimes though, I find that they are just a tiny bit too short so it is a big compromise really. I have never been able to sew my clothes or use a sewing machine and did home economics at school but had to have my support worker practically do everything for me because of not being able to see, and not having the steady hand to, thread a needle, or operate a sewing machine. Shoe-wise, I love the thought of wearing heels but find most of them uncomfortable and unsupportive although I am in my chair- I have yet to find wearable heels for me. I wear flats a lot- pumps are pretty but they just slide off my feet, and I don’t like wearing trainers all of the time. At this time of year, like many other women, I love my boots! With me being in my chair, I am always at a much lower height than a lot of people but my new chair will have a seat elevator so I will be able to be face-to-face with them and up a lot higher than I usually am. I am looking forward to that!
Although I’d love to be taller, I am proud of my height and happy as I am. I really notice my stature every time I get a new wheelchair and it comes to the point where the technician has to adjust my footrests- they’re always on the shortest setting! Rehab doctors fortunately have been able to just look at me and tell how tall I am when prescribing a new chair, so that’s useful. My parents would pray I’d develop at a normal weight and that my height and weight would even out, and it did. My weight has always yoyoed throughout my life and it’s hard to keep it off. I know I need to lose weight now, and have always been aware of my BMI. They say good things come in small packages and that was what my mum always used to say, and still does. I may not be as tall as I’d like, but I’m happy and that’s what counts.