|| Headings and Subheadings
Meet Vicki - England
Headings and Subheadings
My Facebook profile reads: “Activities: Haemophilia C.” This is due to the absence of any information box on Facebook entitled: “Hereditary Genetic Conditions”, “Medical History” or, even, “Things that people say women can’t have but they actually do”. Now, I’m not saying that I am completely devoid of other activities, but, it can, at times, feel like my haemophilia is the star, and I am the sidekick, in my life. Or, that “Haemophilia C” is the heading, and my life is the subheading.
I was diagnosed at age eleven, as a result of sibling rivalry. My brother needed to be tested, as he required a dental procedure. I can vividly remember the drive from our home in Yorkshire, to our nearest haemophilia centre, the Hallamshire in Sheffield. The journey had a sense of foreboding hanging over it that my brother and I masked by playing with our cuddly toys. We entered the Hallamshire, and my brother and I were astounded and amazed by the huge lifts. Never before had we seen a lift with so many buttons; my brother of course pressed them all, much to my mother’s dismay. We reached the haemophilia floor. To this day, even though I have been to the Hallamshire haematology department many times in my life, I am incapable of remembering the floor letter that it is on. I always have to check.
We entered the haemophilia department, and my brother had his blood taken. I did not want to be left out. “Why did he get to be the centre of attention?”, so, in the true vein of sibling rivalry in the purist form, I demanded to be tested too.
When the results came back as positive for me, and negative for my brother, everyone in my family was shocked. They had all assumed that because I looked like my father, and my brother looked like my mother, and because my brother was always running around, falling over and bruising himself, that he was the one with the condition. However, genetics do not work that way. They know what you look like, on the most basic level, but they do not know what you think.
All of the events of my life then came as a subheading, under the main heading of “Haemophilia C”. The biggest event of my life as a woman with hemophilia has been menstruation, which, unlike the talks that you are given at school, does not last only 3 or 4 days. It affected everything, double lessons, my GCSEs, my A’levels, my degree, my PGCE, and now my career as a secondary school teacher. It affects: double lessons, GCSE revision classes, A’level revision classes, mentoring and teaching. It is somewhat cyclical. I am, sometimes, cynical.
However, it is not all negative. I have had many positive experiences as a result of my haemophilia. I have taken part in an internship with the Government, I have worked as a mentor for disabled children where the focus was to show them that someone with a hidden disability can attend a Russell group university (I studied at The University of Warwick) and I have, albeit only recently, found a wonderful community of fellow people with hemophilia on Facebook that make me feel ‘normal’ for the first time in my life. Not that haemophilia makes you abnormal, but it can be hard when you mainly interact with non-haemophiliacs (which given the nature of the condition is how most of us live, most of the time) and have to explain yourself, frequently.
I do not know how haemophilia is going to affect the rest of my life, and that sometimes scares me, but I do know that as my life grows wider, richer and fuller, that haemophilia will, happily, become a subheading.
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Vicki was born in Edinburgh, Scotland to English parents. She moved around a lot when growing up, but always in England. She went to the University of Warwick to study English and Comparative Literature in 2006, and then went on to study for her PGCE in Secondary English at The University of Birmingham. She is currently working as a Secondary English Teacher, and studying for her Masters in Education, again at The University of Birmingham. She has always enjoyed writing, and intends to keep writing.
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