Hannah Scott was a newborn when she had her first heart surgery. But her mom never got a chance to tell the angry stranger about it.
As Mamamia reports, 10-year-old Hannah was at the Royal Adelaide Show (an annual agricultural show similar to a state fair in the U.S.) with her parents and two older siblings. It’s not always easy for Hannah to participate in big, crowded events, but her family didn’t want her to miss out. That’s why they have the stroller.
As Hannah’s mother, Sarah, wrote on her Facebook business page, Hannah uses what is known as a “special needs stroller” — that is, a stroller designed for older children:
We have one of these instead of a wheelchair for Hannah because we haven’t made the switch yet, it’s not needed more than a handful of times a year and only if we will be out in crowds for longer periods of time. And I’m hoping our next heart surgery comes before we need it more often.
Hannah suffers from Tetralogy of Fallot, a heart condition that causes her constant fatigue and muscle pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Tetralogy of Fallot is a birth defect that affects blood flow through the heart. It is comprised of four defects of the heart and blood vessels, and generally requires surgery and life-long monitoring. Sarah told Mamamia:
“Her heart doesn’t pump around her body properly. She also has an auto-immune condition, for which she takes chemotherapy medication, which makes her feel unwell all the time.”
But none of that is visible to the average person who sees Hannah in her stroller. Sarah wrote:
When you look at Hannah you can’t see her illnesses clearly. You can’t see the heart condition, the autoimmune illness, the full on medication, the horrendous muscle spasms that can bring her to her knees, the exhaustion of carrying all this in such a little body especially after a school day. You don’t see the complex trauma diagnosis that makes being around a lot of people overwhelming especially when mixed with a lot of noise.
Unfortunately, all one woman at the event saw was a 10-year-old girl riding in a stroller. The stranger didn’t recognize that it was a special needs stroller and made her feelings clear. Sarah told Mamamia:
“We were deep in one of the pavilions, and a woman pushed past us. She turned around, and looked directly at Hannah and screamed, ‘A fucking ten-year-old in a pram!'”
Sarah added that she tried to call out to the woman, “but it was too crowded for me to go after her.”
Since she wasn’t able to set the woman straight at the show, Sarah took to Facebook to make her feelings known — and hopefully educate others about what a special needs stroller is:
To the woman in the crowd last night who was frustrated because she couldn’t move as fast as she liked, who screamed in my daughter’s face about “being a fucking 10 year old in a pram”. Who terrified and devastated her. Who made her think she couldn’t get back in that chair so she walked in pain for an hour completely humiliated until I forced her back in. I understand you aren’t educated on special needs equipment but maybe if you see a clearly older child in a pram next time you will think and show empathy rather than venom. I wish I had caught you. You’re lucky I didn’t.
Sarah wrote that they ended up leaving early, before the fireworks show, because Hannah “was scared you would see her again around a corner and yell at her again.”
The mom freely admits that they spoiled their daughter in the effort to lessen the impact of the stranger’s screams, buying her a show bag, a new onesie, squishes, and more. But nothing they did could outweigh that moment for their daughter:
[Y]ou made the greatest impression on her, in her words, “you were the first person to ever be mean to me for being a heart kid.”
Sarah says she feels bad about having to leave early. She told Mamamia that Hannah is very aware of the fact that she’s different from other kids:
“She doesn’t want to be. She plays soccer, because she wants to be just like her friends. But afterwards, she’s in a lot of pain.”
Now, the mom feels guilty that they had to leave early and regretful that one woman’s harsh words spoiled a family outing. As she told Mamamia, “She shouldn’t have to miss out. She deserves to be there, like everyone else.”