I’m Grateful for Childhood Friends Who Showed They Care
Looking back at my younger self, I don’t think I fully appreciated the help I received from others around me during my school experience.
Being one of the few people in school with a rare medical disorder was an interesting experience. It definitely had its perks. For example, school staff — especially the teachers — were always friendlier to me. I developed a suit of armor that prevented bullies from harming me. And as a neat little bonus, I had an elevator pass so that I no longer had to endure the horrible challenge of climbing four flights of stairs to get to class.
The benefits definitely made my life easier. But after a few years of this special treatment, I became annoyed. I felt too special, like some ultra-delicate Fabergé Egg. I felt like someone who was to be looked at rather than played with by my classmates.
As the years went by, I wanted people to treat me like everyone else, and I worked hard to convey that message. I made an effort to demonstrate that I’m physically capable of doing things on my own. This included things that aren’t typically appropriate for hemophiliacs.
Benefits are nice and I appreciate them, but I always wanted to let people know that I’m active and capable, even though I have rare illnesses. I’ve always been an advocate of going beyond one’s illness, and I wanted to share this with my friends and teachers.
One of the perks I enjoyed was being allowed to stay in the classroom during recess and lunch, although I only occasionally did so. But I had no choice when I experienced debilitating bleeds. Some of my fondest memories in school were spending time alone in the classroom with a friend or a teacher. I’d always been an introvert, and I cherished the times I was able to share my experience of being a PWD (person with disability) with someone close.
Sometimes I was alone in the classroom. Some people don’t like being alone with their thoughts for a long time. I thought I was one of those types, but I developed a great appreciation for quiet times. In those silent moments, I spent time with myself, thinking about life and reflecting on my status as a person with hemophilia.
Based on some of the things I share in this column, it’s apparent that I have a great love of introspection. I associate this appreciation with the moments I spent by myself in the classroom. I never expected something so boring to be so substantial in terms of who I am. It allowed me to have a healthier sense of self and a brighter outlook about the many challenges I face. It also saved me from insanity, especially when bleeds and seizures bogged me down.
I may have been annoyed by some of the special privileges that I received, but looking back, I know I should have been more thankful. Maybe in my childish angst I wanted to prove to everyone that I’m “normal” and that I’m better than my illnesses. But as an adult, it’s hard not to laugh at that boy who was trying so hard to impress everyone.
The school, my teachers, my classmates, and my other friends simply wanted me to have an easier time dealing with the many issues I faced. It would be disrespectful to them if I didn’t show my gratitude for the gifts they’ve given me. And I wouldn’t want to be that ungrateful kid who denies them their desire to aid and support me.
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