Being short is no fun

There are MANY things I hate about being in a wheelchair. I won’t even begin to list them now… But let me share just one frustration that I’ve noticed more recently: being short.

Since I’m sitting down all the time, everyone becomes a towering, basketball player-like presence literally (not metaphorically) looking down at me. I’m sure there are plenty of shorter people out there thinking, “thanks for pointing out the obvious genius, but this is what I’ve been going through my whole life”. I admit, I’ve never really understood the plight of shortness and to be honest, I’m not exactly tall either, 5’11” to be exact. So while I’ve never exactly been an imposing presence due to my height, the shortness of sitting down is a particularly humbling experience. I must be four foot something sitting in this damn chair, a height I haven’t been since elementary school.

It sucks having to look up at people all the time. It’s no fun having to crane my neck – yes the same neck I broke two vertebra in that still doesn’t have the same range in motion – and train my eyes to look towards the clouds in order to catch the passing glance of a growing child who just hit five feet as he walks past me. Every time I greet a friend or give a hug, it bothers me so much that they have to bend down and almost fall over just to get closer to me. Having a bunch of people standing around me talking reminds me of being a little kid, thinking that the towering adults could have secret “tall” conversations that I couldn’t hear and wishing I could be part of the club.

One of the many ways in which mental strength can help in recovery from SCI is the visualization of healing and sending visual images that confirm one’s objectives to the brain. Whenever I do standing or walking exercises, the therapists are quick to bring a mirror in my view. Seeing myself standing is a positive response and will help my body remember (and recover) the sensation of being on my own two feet. You can imagine how much I enjoy the few but coveted minutes of standing I get not only for the sensation of stretching my body and bearing weight on my legs, but because it reminds me of what it feels like to stand tall, look people at eye level and rid myself of craning my neck up towards people and feeling like I’m four feet tall.

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6 thoughts on “Being short is no fun

  1. YES !! Use that mirror – another great tool for your recovery ~ and hold the vision Arash. I’m a petite gal to begin with — so 5 feet 1 is as good as it gets for me here (used to do the high heels thing but no more)… Strive for the standing tall at 5′ 11′ again ~ I know it is your future. Love and strong healing wishes for a wonderful 2013! ~ Robyn

    1. Thanks Robyn. The mirror is key. I will strive and strive and strive in the new year and beyond. I have a good feeling about this year and wish you all the best as well. I will continue to enjoy your blog and look forward to your creative posts. To a wonderful 2013 indeed -AB

  2. I rejoice in bending down to embrace my loved ones in wheelchairs. there’s an amazing old man here where i live on ecuador’s pacific coast, and we are so at ease with each other. he is often on the sidewalk corner, just sitting, smiling, watching people go by. his wheelchair is surely an antique! i always ALWAYS make sure to walk over and greet him, spend a minute or ten with him before moving on.

    i am sure it’s frustrating, from kitchen counters to nightclubs and social areas. it’s good that you’re addressing these, as many people have probably never thought about planning spaces to make it easier.


  3. I completely hear your frustration on many levels. I myself am a dwarf at 4’10. I have degenerative disc disease from c3-c7 and t7-t9. My c5-c6 level is the worst with nerve compression but the others are not far behind. With straightening of the lordosis, and wearing progressive lenses, life is hell. Can’t look up (hello, who don’t I look up to), can’t bend over and look up, all have the same resulting pain. I type on my laptop horizontal with my neck and head supported and still my shoulders and arms shake.

    I am lucky, I am still mobile! Some days are better than others and some days, many days the head pain is intolerable.

    I know you had no choice regarding spinal fusion. I am so glad that it is working for you along with other therapies. You are an inspiration.

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