My husband, Jared, has fond memories of his school days when he was younger. He went to an all-boys combined elementary school and high school, where roughhousing and horsing around with friends were common. He and his classmates sometimes were crude and rowdy, he says, but they were all very close. Most grew up to become good-hearted adults.
Even now, whenever we bump into one of Jared’s childhood friends, I still catch a glimpse of that all-boys school impishness in their interactions. They’ll greet each other by raucously invading each other’s space, harking back to their childhood days, almost as if the years had been put on hold.
Jared tells me he was the “special kid” of his class. As the only student with a rare health condition, hemophilia, everyone at the school treated him with the utmost care. His classmates, teachers, and school administrators all went out of their way to accommodate his needs.
However, at some point, all of that special treatment began to become a burden on Jared. He’d feel guilty when his teachers would give him a passing grade on something even though he’d been in the hospital at the time and couldn’t make it to class. He thought that was unfair to everyone else. He’d feel bad when teachers would give him good marks for character, because he didn’t think he’d earned them.
Thankfully, the positive experiences with his schoolmates helped make those days better. The other kids treated Jared with kindness and respect. They didn’t walk on eggshells around him just because he has hemophilia. They would joke with him and involve him in their activities. Jared often recalls how he used to play video games with his closest friends and have sleepovers at their homes.
Jared’s friends cared about his well-being. When he had to spend weeks in the hospital due to severe bleeds and a case of sepsis, his classmates visited him and tried to cheer him up.
Funnily enough, Jared also had a friend who was scared of approaching him, because he thought he could “catch” hemophilia! Jared tried to explain to him many times that hemophilia is genetic, but the poor guy never believed him. Nevertheless, the two still got along well.
Jared often tells me he would rather be the butt of a joke and feel loved than receive “special treatment” that feels forced and inauthentic. He forgives healthy people for not knowing how to treat those with health concerns. And he hopes people with health conditions learn that they are humans first.
I keep that thought fresh in my mind every time I interact with my husband. I never have to feel too conscious about “offending” him because of certain things he already accepts about his condition. Jared and I often talk about hemophilia matter-of-factly, because for him, hemophilia is a fact of life.
Sometimes we’ll even make a joke or two about his bleeds. No matter how stressful things may get, we both know that having a sense of humor can help us get through it.
Jared’s elementary and high school friends showed him that he is special because he is their friend, not because he is a guy with a special health condition. To me, Jared is special, because he is the guy I chose to marry, and the father of our baby girl.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.
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