Phyllis Tarlow Fine Art - Hudson From Bear Mt
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What Do You See When You Look At Me?

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write what I’ve been thinking/feeling about a situation I was in last week which made me wonder, what do people think when they see me. I apologize upfront if this post is a bit scattered or is too lengthy.

Last week my honey was invited to a reunion dinner with a group of people he worked with 35+ years ago. Nice right, a group of co-workers staying in touch and getting together for an annual reunion dinner. But, (my world always has a but ever since that fateful day in June 2016 when hip #surgery gone wrong left me #paralyzed from the waist down) nice annual reunion dinners are no longer easy, for me or my honey.

So what’s changed, what makes what should be a simple annual reunion dinner not so simple?

  • My honey can longer simply RSVP yes he is attending, instead he has to determine if spouses are invited.
    • If yes, then he has to call the facility and inquire about #accessibility (do they have stairs, a ramp or an elevator). If accessibility is available, he then inquires if #family_restrooms are available. To be honest, most times this question is met with a pause in responding as the person has no idea what a family restroom is, so we are forced to explain, thereby causing us both more embarrassment and stress. As you can guess, if they have no idea what a family restroom is, they certainly don’t have one. ☹️
      • If there is no family restroom, now we need to first determine how far away the facility is so I can strategically time my need to use the ladies room. If I don’t drink a lot during that day, then I can usually last about 5-6 hours without needing to use the ladies room. That 5-6 hours needs to include drive time to the facility, time spent at the function and drive time home, fun right, not.
    • If spouses are not invited, well then there are possibly two options:
      • 1) we determine if my daytime aide could come back for a few hours in the evening, which now adds additional expense. If yes, great, if no, then:
      • 2) my honey either declines to attend or he explains our situation (again, causing us both more embarrassment and stress) and asks if it would be okay if I attend even though spouses are not invited. Most people are very understanding and say of course I may attend, which leads me to the title of this blog …

Sitting at dinner surrounded by all men with the exception of one other woman who herself was a co-worker, I was the only spouse. Everyone was polite, said hello, shook my hand or smiled politely and nodded, but, no one really spoke to me. No one asked if I worked, no one asked if I or we have any children, nothing. Whenever I attended functions where I had the opportunity to meet new people, it was common or normal to strike up a conversation with something like “so, what do you do, do you work?” or “do you have any children?” but that didn’t happen, no one spoke to me.

Later that night and in the following days I found myself wondering why, why did no one speak to me? No one was rude, they were polite with their hellos and good-byes but nothing in between. What did they see when they looked at me? I’ve never had that happen to me before so I was and I guess still am, a bit bothered by it. I’ve said several times in my blogs being a #little_person NEVER made me feel different, incapable, inadequate, unintelligent or unable to carry my own in any and every situation. But for some reason, now, being forced to live life in this #wheelchair, I find more and more people shy away, don’t really engage in conversation other than the polite smile or wave. Why? Is being a little person in a wheelchair that different? Do I suddenly appear more incapable of holding a conversation? Do I suddenly appear more incapable/unable to have a career?

As always, I wish you days filled with WONDER take a minute to WONDER what it is that made you 😃 today!

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