Introducing Ben to new people isn’t something we do as often as we used to; we have great family connections and have surrounded ourselves by the same people for most of the past nine years.
As I transitioned into a new job this year, it has been interesting and slightly funny (for me!) to try and explain Ben’s diagnosis without it sounding as dire as it maybe is.
Ben is an anomaly; he is one of a kind. There are still only a handful of people officially diagnosed with his type of PCH and when I create that visual for a new acquaintance, I don’t think they always know how to react.
I just want to clarify – it’s not sad for us. We are no longer sad or upset by his diagnosis. We have sad moments and stressful times but we have mourned the son we thought we were going to have and now celebrate the amazing person Ben is. That ship is so far gone for us; Ben is exactly who is meant to be and we’re okay with that. So you can be too.
New people in my life have expressed sympathy over our “situation” – what situation? I appreciate your sympathy but really don’t need it (not meaning to be harsh, but this is our everyday… it’s just reality). And I definitely don’t need your pity so don’t even go there.
What I do need is for you not to judge me when I come to work with a big mess of drool on my shoulder or if I wear the same thing for five days straight because my priorities don’t often include my wardrobe.
Explaining Ben to new people actually makes me feel bad because I know how it sounds. It sounds tragic and terminal and unfortunate. I have heard myself say several times “It’s really okay” or “It’s not as bad as it sounds or looks on paper.”
I do sincerely appreciate those who express curiosity or want to know more about him; I’m happy to answer your questions and share his life with anyone who wants to be a part of it. I can talk about Ben for hours if you want.
For some people, I believe that it is difficult to imagine that kids like him exist. But he does. And there are other kids with rare conditions whose stories are similar; some of those stories are happy ones and some are sadder or shorter. We are the lucky ones…
We are lucky to have a very happy, mostly easy going child, who considering the adversity and challenges he faces daily, soars through his life smiling and laughing and smiling and laughing… and sometimes biting.