So far, I’ve only been asked one ridiculous question about Hannah. It came from a phlebotomist at the children’s hospital during Hannah’s third thyroid check. I sat in a high chair made for children, holding onto a squirmy baby being prodded in every vein to find a decent one. The woman didn’t look up when she asked:
“Is she only half Down syndrome? She doesn’t have any health problems?”
My response was silence for a solid 15 seconds. Seem like a short amount of time? I promise you it felt like eternity. Finally, I said “Well, she already had heart surgery…so…no, I guess there aren’t any more health problems.”
Then she went on to tell me about her granddaughter who’s “half Down syndrome” but quite a hellion. Hannah’s cries interrupted the continuous stream of “what the f*ck” running through my head.
The rest of the day my mind was full of the responses I wish I gave her…
No, she isn’t half Down syndrome, all Down syndrome, or any amount of Down syndrome. She’s a little girl.
Technically, her 47th chromosome makes up 2.13% of her DNA. So no, she’s not even half Down syndrome.
Health problems? You tell me. I drove 45 minutes for you to search for a vein that produces more than a drop of blood to find out.
A heart defect isn’t enough of a health problem for you? It certainly met my lifetime quota.
The rest aren’t appropriate for sharing. By day’s end my internal venting was over and the irritation was gone. I know this woman didn’t mean to offend me. I think she was telling me that Down syndrome wasn’t going to keep Hannah from being a rowdy, mischievous, or troublemaking child (aka hellion).
Our journey is on a road paved with good intentions. Next time I have an odd interaction like that I’ll try to find the positive before jumping all over the negative.