To My Childhood Self, From a Doctor Whose Brother Has Down Syndrome
Dr. Kishore Vellody is a pediatrician and medical director of the Down Syndrome Center of Western Pennsylvania. He is also on the Executive Committee of the Board of the National Down Syndrome Congress. In March 2015, he created the Dear Self About Down Syndrome blog where families can share their personal experiences with their loved ones with Down syndrome. The blog has been viewed in over 40 countries, including many where there is limited access to care for children with Down syndrome. You can contribute your story here. Below is Dr. Vellody’s letter to himself.
Dear Childhood Self,
You remember so well growing up with your brother Das. You and he were so close in age, and you both always seemed to enjoy being together. You didn’t realize there was anything different about Das at all until someone else pointed it out. You didn’t know what to do with that information – it didn’t make sense!
You spoke with your parents, and they confirmed that Das indeed had some special challenges you did not have. You became so upset because you never realized that was why Das struggled so much more to learn things than you did. You just thought that’s how all brothers were! It just always seemed to take Das a little bit longer to be able to pick up the games you were playing, but he always did. All through his education, you learned patience by watching him struggle, persevere, and then ultimately accomplish what he wanted to do. And then you saw the unbridled joy in his face when he finally got to say “I did it, ‘Kis-ow!’”
As you got older, you started to wonder about the fairness of it all. Why did Das have to struggle with so many things that came so much easier to you? Why would God make a child have to go through all that? Your struggles reached deep into your core and rocked you spiritually. You began to doubt God’s existence altogether for so many years.
Then, in what you can only describe as a miracle, you began to see all his qualities that were always there but taken for granted. You began to see Das’ ability to love everyone unconditionally. You began to personally experience Das’ very real forgiveness whenever you messed up. You found that Das resembled your view of God more than any other person you had ever met. It was then that you realized you were the one born with one chromosome too few, and Das was born with just the right amount. You came to believe God’s version of perfection was different than your own.
Hang in there, Kishore! God’s got quite a roller coaster ahead of you, and the exhilarating time is on the way. You are going to get a dream job as medical director of a busy Down Syndrome Center, where you will be able to indirectly give back to Das by caring for thousands of children with Down syndrome. You will be invited to join the board of the National Down Syndrome Congress and get opportunities to share your medical and personal knowledge about Down syndrome with families all over the world. You will have tears in your eyes when meeting new parents who say that nobody else had yet congratulated them on the birth of their beautiful baby.
You are going to bring hope into the lives of not only those parents, but also to siblings in ways you could never have dreamed. And after many struggles of your own along the way, you will hear yourself exclaim, “I did it, Das!”
Your Adult Self
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