8. Celebrating differences by Paul Whyte


Life is about choices, be who you want to be. Dream big and you can achieve your potential. Work hard and you will have opportunities, grab them, learn from them.  Hard work will lead to success. Failure is not about lack of achieving, but about giving up.  We all face challenges, battles and hurdles in life.  For some, those are more difficult, more important, more rewarding.  It’s all relative.

Every day I see and work with those that have to accept being different.  They may have lived for 60-70yrs being ‘normal’ but life throws them a curve ball.  Suddenly their retirement isn’t what they had planned, they may not meet their grandchildren, or reach the ruby wedding anniversary.  Suddenly, they are different. Getting dressed makes them breathless, struggling walking across the room, let alone managing stairs, can’t play their weekly game of golf or tennis with their friends.  They become socially isolated.  Shoes, sock, slippers won’t fit anymore. But last week they were ‘normal’.  Heart failure, now that is a failure. The heart giving up.  Life limiting, uncertainty….  How long left? No cure, yet.  Maybe one day….

I was inspired by Dave’s blog idea – I have never done it before, probably never will again, but felt I needed to help raise awareness.  I can’t write about Down Syndrome like he can. I haven’t experienced it, or had to come to terms with the changes that it brings to everyday life.  

I have limited experience of Downs Syndrome.  As a student nurse I spent time working with people with all sorts of learning disabilities, but I never really understood at the time.  That was my naivety, lack of understanding, lack of time.  These are my flaws, my challenges, my battles.  What I did find, and more so on reflection years later, was that actually I learnt more than I realised.  Never once do I recall any of them complaining about being different.  They always seemed so happy, content, loving.  They just got on with life.  They appreciated the simple things in life that we all take for granted.  I personally think we can all learn so much from this attitude.  I don’t know if the people I was working with knew they were different, whether they cared.  

I am not trying to compare the challenges of having Down Syndrome with heart failure.  Simply, highlighting the fact that people face different challenges.  We are all different.  Let’s not compare or point out peoples differences, but accept them for what they are – just differences. Let’s celebrate them.

Paul is a Cardiac Nurse Specialist and lives with his family in Kent.  He is known for being less frugal than other members of the Whyte family.

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