First impressions are very important; they can have a positive or negative effect on someone. Fortunately, my own experience was a positive one.
I am 37 years old and I have a growth disorder called Achondroplasia. I was brought up in a small village where this condition had never been heard of before; even to my doctors, this was something new. I am very blessed to have two strong and wonderfully committed parents who have made me what I am today and someone I can be proud of myself. I have been in full-time employment since leaving college 20 years ago and at the moment I am working with the local council. I have been driving since I was 19 and now own my own flat and leading a “normal life”.
It was just a couple of years ago now, after many years of coaxing from my mum that I decided to do some research about other people with the same condition as myself. As a youngster, it was something I felt I didn’t really need in my life, as all my friends and family were of “Average Height”. My mum always said she would have really liked someone to talk to when I was “growing up”, as she felt quite isolated because she didn’t know anyone else who had this condition. She said “it’s not a case of what they can do for you” but “what you can do for them”.
After considerable thought, I realised that my mum was right, now that I was older and had some life experience I decided I could share this with others. I started the ball rolling and went onto the Internet to see if there was any support locally. The only thing I found was the RGA where the majority of people were English based. Then I was put in touch with Jackie & Ronnie Millan who lived about 30 miles away, she and Ronnie kindly offered to come to my house to meet with me as she sensed I was very nervous. I had never met anyone with my condition before and I really didn’t know what to expect or how I would feel looking at a mirror image.
Thankfully my first impression of Jackie and Ronnie was a positive one, it was great to finally look at someone straight in the eye, so to speak and although I was still very nervous, it did not put me off wanting to find out more. Since that time I have now met a lot of other people who have Achondroplasia and other Short Stature conditions. I am now involved with Short Stature Scotland.
Our support group is designed to help families come to terms with their condition and also to provide information or even just to have a chat and a laugh. It’s comforting to know that with all the challenges and insecurities that come with life, I can talk to someone about them and discover that they also have the same thoughts and experiences that life brings. I know it can be daunting going into the unknown but once you have taken that first step, I guarantee you won’t look back, I wish I had done it years ago.