I was unable to find anyone who recorded (or even took a picture!) of the LPA Speakers’ Night, but I wanted to share my piece with you. I plan on recording me speaking it, but wanted to share it with you (written) in the meantime. So, without further stalling, here is my LPA Speakers’ Night Piece entitled: Keep Pushing.
As I embark upon the birth of my second child, I find the title of my piece ironic.
While that’s not my birthing mantra- that one is just breathe- Keep pushing is my mission in life.
Letting ourselves be defined by anything, even things that are so apparent, like our gender, sexual preference, race or disability is no way to live. It’s no way I will let myself or my children live, so why do other people expect me to allow such behaviors from them?
The answer is simple. The answer points a finger. The answer stings. The answer is me.
People treat others as they are allowed to. Sad? Pathetic? Lame? You bet. But it’s the truth. We love to take advantage of life- be lazy where we can be. We often, as humans, forget the implications of our language.
We let people call us homo, fat, crazy, midget, whore. Because as a culture stopping these things is too “politically correct”. We fear that we are being “too sensitive”, we aren’t raising tough kids, or we ourselves do not have thick skin.
“Good luck this time!”
“Good for you- trying again.”
“Sucks you didn’t know before she was born.”
“Is there anything they can do for her when she’s older to make her taller?”
Fellow humans have said these things to me. Why does the world view dwarfism as something to be cured, rather than embraced as a difference?
We don’t want to question what others say. We give up our right to know about ourselves when we don’t ask the hard questions.
“I don’t know.”
“We will learn together.”
“Let’s come back to that.”
“This is my first one.”
Doctors have said these things to me. Why is the education about dwarfism so slim that many medical professionals fear the diagnosis of dwarfism- offering patients little education and less options.
My mantra, Keep pushing. For respect, for knowledge.
Do you see it yet? Do you feel the need to push?
There is change that can be made. There is change that needs to be made. There are generations coming up behind you and me, behind the children being born today and the children following them. There are millions of people yet to be born, and thousands will have a form of dwarfism.
But they will not be dwarfs.
They will be painters and doctors. They will be writers and scientists. They will be political leaders and dreamers and veterinarians. Those born with a form of dwarfism will love and be loved. They will change lives and shape the world for future generations. The way we need to now.
There is a need to define ourselves by what we want as a community and let the masses, not the few, lead the way. Television shows that pigeonhole this community, media misconceptions, movies and comedians are things of the past when we push- and keep pushing- to be defined not as little people, but as people. Height doesn’t make someone smart, or happy, or better than. Average height just makes you average.
Be spectacular regardless. Keep pushing.
When a doctor tells me they do not know, I ask, “how will you find the answer?” When I am given news about a health concern and then that same medical professional attempts to leave the room, I ask for further explanation. I ask what our course of action is. I ask what their medical opinion and experience are. What is the timeline. How do we proceed? I push to know more. I push to make them answer. To make them accountable for their diagnosis. I refuse to let Google do my doctoring. I refuse to leave not knowing.
Too many parents email me with the same story. It goes like this: The doctors told me my baby would be a dwarf. They gave me a packet of papers and told me to make appointments for these things. They told me to be prepared, but not for what.
More often than not, I offer my telephone number. I spend hours each week calming mothers-to-be and new parents. Not giving medical advice, but offering an ear and listening to questions that are left unanswered. Unanswered concerns from a doctor who left their patients with a handout and maybe a few people to call.
This is not OK. This is not how patients should be treated. Dwarfism is not unknown. Specialists exist!
In my hours on the phone I’ve looked up local hospitals with clinics, referred many to our own team in Delaware, and always given out the LPA’s website. Hours spent giving the same basic information that needs to be readily available to all patients with a diagnosis of dwarfism. Support, love and most importantly, knowledge.
Keep pushing so that when someone sees a person of short stature they smile, the same smile they offer any other human on the street. Why? Because a person of short stature is any other human.
Keep pushing to make changes, because if there is such an uprising about a professional football team name change, then there should be a change across the nation of high school sports teams named The Midgets. Because other people do not decide what offends you. Because other people don’t control our emotions. Because being sensitive, caring, respectful people is what defines a civilized culture. That is what humanity means. Because even doctors need to learn something new every day. Because bedside manner isn’t dead (and neither is chivalry, if you were wondering).
There isn’t a facet of our culture that doesn’t need advocacy from our community, so be that voice. Never stop pushing because it doesn’t bother you anymore, or because you think one person can’t make a difference. One voice. One community. One change at a time.
Keep pushing because letting ourselves be defined by anything, even things that are so apparent, like our gender, sexual preference, race or disability is no way to live. It’s no way I will let myself or my children live, and I won’t being defined by anyone but myself.