Creating Awareness: Part 2
What You're Dying to Know, But Too Afraid to Ask: Part 2
Just this weekend, someone asked me if I ever get sick of answering the same questions over and over? To be honest, the basics never really get old, especially when the person who is asking is being genuine and respectful. I would much rather have a world full of educated people, even if that means answering the same questions everyday, than a world full of people that hurt my heart due to their ignorance. My heart is to spread awareness and education. Below you will find the continuation of last week’s post and some answers to some more frequently asked questions.
How do we drive?
This one seems to boggle people’s minds. I often get a lot of looks and stares when I get in and out of my car and it’s one of the questions that children ask me the most. They always are fascinated that someone their size can drive a car and they always wonder how in the world is that possible? It’s really quite simple. For Jeremy, he currently doesn’t require any adaptations. He drives a Honda Civic, and with the seat pushed all the way forward, he can reach the pedals just fine. I on the other hand don’t have quite as long legs and drive a larger vehicle. For my Ford Escape, the only major adaptations I need are pedal extensions. They are a simple invention, but boy are they life changing! They are basically an extended pedal that can adjust in length and angle, and attach to most car pedals through a series of nuts and bolts. They are really simple to take on and off making traveling and renting cars doable. Another question most people wonder, is how do we see over the steering wheel? Because Achondroplasia mostly affects our limbs and we have an average sized torso, seeing over the steering wheel really isn’t an issue. My seat dips down in the back, so I prefer to have a small cushion that makes my seat flat all the way across. The cushion itself doesn’t add any extra height though.
How do we go shopping?
Shopping can often take a lot of strategy and in our house it is usually a team effort. If I were to list off the stores we usually go to, I know exactly how each store’s shopping carts are designed, where the things are located that I need the most (top shelf vs. bottom shelf), and which have the most friendly checkouts. Usually when we go grocery shopping, I do a quick inventory of what I need, which store I want to go to due to costs, and which store is most accessible either by myself or if I’ll need Jeremy to come along. For example, Winco has the deepest carts, while Raley’s has the most shallow carts, and the Shampoo is ALWAYS on the top shelf at Target. Most places I can manage on my own, but with Jeremy, almost everything becomes easily accessible, so if possible I like to take him along. When I’m by myself I usually always grab a basket instead of a cart. If I’m getting a ton of heavy items, I get a cart but this takes strategy. Once I put stuff inside the cart, it’s often a challenge to see over it and watch where I’m going, therefore I pull the cart instead of push. I then have to strategically place everything in the cart so I can reach it all when it’s time to checkout. This means putting a majority of my groceries in the children’s basket, or in the shallow part of the cart near the very front. The worst is when a small item slides down to the backend of the cart, making it nearly impossible to reach.
How do I reach things that are high up on the shelf?
If Jeremy is with me, almost anything can be reached. The extra seven inches he has on me makes a world of difference! Most times reaching things though is a team effort, where he climbs a shelf and I spot him from the ground, holding him up so neither him or the shelves come crashing down. If I’m by myself, the scenario is slightly different. Because I’m stubborn, I don’t usually like to ask for help, although I will if absolutely needed. I usually prefer to scope out my surroundings and assess the situation of said product that is way high up on the shelf. I determine whether it’s breakable, large, heavy, etc. Then if no one is looking, I see if I can throw something at it in order to make it fall down from the top shelf. I then try to catch it before it hits the ground. If throwing an object at the up high item doesn’t work or isn't an option, I casually look for another product nearby that is longer. Once found said longer object, I use it to knock down the wanted item up high, off of its shelf. Meter sticks from the office supply aisle and windshield snow scrapers have come to my rescue on many occasions. If all else fails, I inspect the durability of the shelving unit and if needed, will climb up one or two shelves in order to reach the said up-high product… Because this whole process is so much easier than just asking for help… so I really wasn’t joking when I said I’m stubborn. :) However, if someone is nearby looking at something right next to me in the aisle, I will politely ask them to get the item down, which in most cases I find people are happy to help. Which leads me to the following question…
Is it offensive to ask if I need help reaching something?
Absolutely Not! It doesn’t happen very often, and when it does it is wonderful… maybe due to my hatred of asking for help… this takes away the need for me to ask. Occasionally I find myself looking for something up high, when a bystander sees me and asks if there is something they can get down for me. I love when this happens! It takes away the complicatedness of getting an unreachable object down. l don’t have to climb shelves, knock anything over, and I don’t have to catch anything. I don’t have to startle any elderly women by asking them for help, and when they can’t hear me well, I don’t have to do lots of excessive pointing to communicate what I need. One of my favorite stores to go to is Trader Joe’s. It’s almost like having my own personal shopper whenever I go there. Every time I go, I usually go for the same items, which means week after week I can never reach those same items. I then always have to ask the same crew members for help. Except now they know me and they know what I need. As soon as they see me walk down the aisle, one of their crew members has gotten down said item and is waiting for me to place it in my basket. It’s really quite magical. They also have the best carts! They have the children carts, which are sometimes my best friend! Baskets get heavy, but carts are hard to reach and maneuver. However, the children’s carts are perfect but I find using children’s carts causes a bit more confusion to the other children, especially when they don’t see my parents nearby. :)
Where do we buy our clothes?
Buying clothes is not as hard as one may think. The main issue we have to deal with is the length of our limbs… Pants and sleeves are usually too long. Because I have an average torso, finding shirts to fit is not that difficult, especially if it’s short sleeved. With longer sleeves, I try to find 3/4 length sleeves to prevent any altering. Depending on the sleeve, I usually roll them up , but sometimes an alteration with my sewing machine is needed. For pants, our life became way easier when Capris and Bermuda Shorts came back in style. Because our booties are still average size, I cannot fit into children’s clothing and wear women’s clothing. If I find knee length capris, I usually can get away wearing them as jeans without having to make any alterations. However, if I can’t find capris, I find the best pair of jeans that fit my booty and don’t worry about the length. In Elementary School I learned how to sew and my sewing machine has become a staple in my house. If any of my pants or sleeves need altering, I usually just shorten and hem them myself. I’m a huge fan of short dresses or longer shirts with leggings, neither of which require any alterations. I also have the best luck finding clothes at Old Navy and Target. Shoes are a completely different story and challenge. My feet are small and wide. Finding a kid's shoe that isn't too narrow, is cute, and isn't covered in shiny bows or glitter isn't always easy. Therefore, I usually stick to the simplicity of flip flops.
Last week I got asked some incredible questions, which I’m excited to tackle in a later post! Thank you for those that were brave and had the courage to ask great questions. Thank you for going on this journey with me, to educate one person at a time, and to raise awareness about the simplicities of everyday life.