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June 24, 2015 / Me and my girl...

Achondroplasia and my family..

For decades the medical profession has tried to think of ways to make me taller; The latest thing to potentially hit the market is a drug which can be injected every day in the hope of a few extra inches. The drug is marketed at parents who are worried about the future of their little ones with my condition.

I’m 37 years old and married with 2 wonderful children. Our eldest daughter is 5 years old and has inherited our achondroplasia, something which we are bringing her up to be very proud of, as we know her future is very bright. Our two year old is average height, we are very excited for her future and the privilege she has of growing up in such a diverse community.

Our 5 year old is excelling at school and has a very active social life that as a busy mum is hard to keep up with. So far she has minimal medical issues. Both my husband and I are very healthy, active parents who barely remember our achondroplasia. It’s only other people that like to remind us, either the occasional inquisitive stare on the high street or medical advancements that presume we may not be living a fulfilled life. There is nothing I would change about my achondroplasia it has been part of my destiny and I’m very proud to belong to a culture where we can mix with diverse families and learn and laugh together.

In context my life has been very ordinary I went to university, spent time on a kibbutz, travelled round the world and had a career as a researcher at the BBC. I’m now training to be a teacher; I teach sixth form media studies and every day I’m surprised at how little the students notice or care about my height. We are active members of our local community and both girls enjoy the local school, nursery and various clubs. It’s this community that makes me forget my height; I’m ‘the girls mum’ when they bump into me in the village.

Every morning my 5 year old scoots from our house to school. I watch with excitement and pride as she passes her friends exchanging hello’s and giddiness about their day. I stand in the playground chatting with the mums and kiss her goodbye as she enters into a classroom which is full of acceptance and general nonchalance about the fact she is at least a head shorter than her friends. I’m aware that at times her height may be questioned but I hope that we are providing both our children with the confidence and inner happiness to answer any questions about themselves or their family with pride, politeness and an understanding that people are inquisitive.

So my answer to the presumption that a drug will improve my life; I’m ok thanks in fact I’m more than ok. Life is great and that is partly to do with me being born with a condition that makes me shorter. Life is not limited or full of endless pain, my GP barely recognises me. I’m aware their maybe medical issues that pop up in our family however it’s part of our route and maybe a bit of a diversion but it will not stop us getting to where we want. I would not exchange this journey for any promise of being taller. I ask instead that we put our energy into creating awareness that being different is not a big deal. It’s not our family that needs to change but more attitudes and presumptions towards people with difference.

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