Falling in Love

Falling in Love

A student talks about a trisomy 21 patient’s mom

A.’s mom was incredible, but motherhood hadn’t always been predictable or easy for her. A., her eldest son, was born with trisomy 21. She hadn’t been prepared for this and neither had her husband. But the two of them had risen to the varied challenges of supporting someone with Down’s: making sure that their son received the best possible education, finding babysitters who loved caring for him, encouraging him to help out around the house, discouraging him from spending too much time playing video games. They taught him how to be a committed employee and hold a job. They guided him as he developed the skills he needed to be independent.

Our class had plenty of questions for A.’s mom. We were curious about her son’s diagnosis and his parents’ initial response when the doctors gave them the news. We wanted to know about the medical problems that patients with trisomy 21 would need our help to manage.

On the opposite side of the room, Michelle raised her hand. “What will happen when A. falls in love?” she asked.

A.’s mother’s face broke into a comfortable smile. A. had already fallen in love, and then she talked about his girlfriend, J., how her son spoke with this young woman on the phone in the evenings, patiently and gently, calming her down whenever she’d had a bad day.

I found myself thinking about this interview throughout the afternoon. I was grateful for Michelle’s question and felt fortunate to be learning the practice of medicine among colleagues who see beyond diagnoses to the unique beauty of individual lives. I was grateful to be reminded that anyone can fall in love.