Most fans of Little People, Big World are aware that Matt Roloff has had several surgeries relating to Achondroplasia, but now he’s going into detail about what those lengthy hospital stays were like. During a recent interview on the podcast Reality Life with Kate Casey, the father-of-four opened up about what kept him going during those difficult times.
“As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Matt began, with Kate pointing out that Matt went through 15 surgeries as a child and would play chess, checkers, and Legos to keep his mind focused. “I had a rough childhood. Not from a family perspective but just from orthopedic surgery, spending long periods of time — sometimes months — in a hospital with very limited access to your parents. It was just the way they did it back in those days and going through some very painful operations. So I do think all of that sort of built up a muscle of resiliency and gave me a sense of can-do and tenacity.”
He added that he’s not the only one who was dealt a tough hand. “Life is tough. Everyone goes through different adversity, but it’s how you react to it and what it makes out of you.”
Both of Matt’s parents are of average size, as is his sister. However, his brother, Sam, has the same form of degenerative dwarfism. Another brother, Josh, passed away from severe heart and lung problems before seeing him skyrocket to fame.
“When Joshua was born — about two weeks before Christmas in 1964 when I was over two years old — my parents faced more childbirth trauma,” Matt explained in his memoir, Against Tall Odds: Being A David In A Goliath World. “Only this time it was the uncertainty over whether their new baby would ever make it out of the hospital alive.” He continued, “Not long after the delivery, the doctors diagnosed Josh as having severe heart and lung problems they thought would probably take his life before he was a day old.”
Matt was born with a type of dwarfism that causes problems in the shoulders, legs, hips, knees, and arms. As a child, he spent a total of two years in hospitals undergoing various corrective surgeries and procedures. To this day, he still can’t stand up straight or walk without the help of his crutches. In 2016, he endured neck surgery — which could have left him paralyzed.
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