WELCOME TO MY WORLD
by: Mary Ellen
My name is Mary Ellen. I am the first Little Person ever in my family. My parents are both average size and all my brothers and their children are all average size as well.
In my day to day life, I am a registered nurse and single mother of two girls. Doesn't seem that extraordinary does it? Well now add in the fact that both of those children are have a form of Dwarfism and your perspective changes. I don't think there is ever a day that goes by that someone does not point out to the girls or myself that we are little. I think we might know that but there is always someone who wants to just make sure we know.
My children are educated in regular academic settings and are not shielded from the outside world. I stress education as being one of the most important things in life. I do tell them you have to wow the world with your brain so they can forget your stature. I also tell them they will forever have to prove themselves and everyone will remember you. I have had several opportunities to prove myself. Probably the single most life changing was my career path in nursing. Well one of the things my parents instilled in me was to pick something that you would be able to support yourself and nursing fit that bill. I don't think they ever really thought I would pick nursing but here we are.
Nursing school was the first hurdle, first academically I was not the strongest and worked very hard for the grades I did achieve so that was obstacle number one, which proved to be harder than obstacle number two my height. I grew up in a house with four brothers. I learned how to be very vocal and independent. The summer before I went into nursing school I became a nursing assistant this proved to be an invaluable learning experience .....I was expected to carry my weight after all they were paying me and I needed the money for school. So I made it thru nursing school with always the highest clinical marks and passed the boards on the first try.
Now I needed a job. I was fortunate to graduate in 1990 at a time where nurses were in high demand. I interviewed and got offered three jobs one was the rehab center where I was a nursing assistant, one was an orthopedic floor and the other was a level 3 NICU. All three were interesting to me but babies and children are in my blood. So the NICU job came with a catch. My boss said to me " Mary Ellen I really want to give you a job but the safety of our patients, employees and you cannot ever be in question". We had a very lengthy discussion about what I thought I would need and I assured her " a foot stool" is all I will need. So I left that interview with a probationary job for 12 weeks. If at the end of 12 weeks if either of us thought it was unsafe I would leave no harm, no foul. So about 6 weeks into the job I get called to the boss's office well I am in a panic. I go in and she seems happy and glad to have me in the office so I started to breathe. She then said to me that she met with my preceptor and they decided that I deserved to know I was off probation and there was nothing left to prove.
I have been doing Neonatal Nursing ever since. In all my years of nursing I have never been asked by a parent not to take care of their baby because of my size and knock on wood have
never caused and injury to anyone I work with or myself as a result of my size.
I once asked a parent that I had got close with " did my size matter" and she said" to be honest I noticed and the thought crossed my mind how is she going to take care of my baby and then you opened your mouth the things you said to me to make me feel better and the things you knew about my baby made me never see your size again." Size is always the first thing someone notices about me and it is up to me to prove why that does not define who I am.