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Joshua Haemophilia

‘I hate crutches,’ complains 10-year-old Joshua Bramman. At home with his mum Kay in Inveruie, a market town near Aberdeen, he is full of beans, laughing and chatty. But it isn’t always the case.

Joshua has severe haemophilia: a chronic, lifelong bleeding disorder which he was born with. His blood does not contain a certain clotting factor, meaning that without medical intervention, injuries he sustains will not stop bleeding.

‘If I cut myself and it’s a big cut, I have to go to hospital and I might need surgery to have it sorted out,’ Joshua says matter-of-factly. For other families, taking their child to hospital would be a scary ordeal; for Kay and Joshua, it’s a regular occurrence.

‘I go to hospital every three months for check-ups,’ Joshua says. ‘If I bang my head, I have to stay in hospital in case I have a bleed inside my skull. I’ve been to hospital five times this year, for a few days at a time. It can be a bit scary because I don’t really know what’s happening.’

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Joshua’s condition is completely unpredictable and spontaneous. It makes things difficult day-to-day for the family. ‘He could go for months with no incidents, and then be in hospital for weeks at a time,’ says Joshua’s mum, Kay. ‘He can go to bed totally fine, and then have a bleed during the night and not be able to walk the following day. You just don’t know what it’s going to be like from one day to the next – you can’t really plan for anything.’

Despite all of this uncertainty - the medical procedures, hospital visits, missed periods of school and dreaded crutches - Joshua has managed to keep one stable thing in his life: Scouting. ‘I started as a Beaver, and now I’m a Cub,’ he says proudly. ‘We do medic stuff, play games, have water fights – I absolutely love water fights!’

The excitement in his voice is contagious: despite missing sessions due to hospitalisations, and attending Cubs in his wheelchair when he’s had a bad bleed, Scouting is a release for Joshua. It’s a time when he can do the things every other 10-year-old boy would, and it’s a peer support system that his frequent stays in hospital have otherwise largely prevented.

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‘Cubs helps me to take my mind off things, because it’s such fun and all my friends are there. Everybody knows how to help me, and they all want to push me in my wheelchair!’ Joshua laughs. For Kay, seeing Joshua flourish with Scouting has been incredibly rewarding. ‘Even though he’s got this condition, I don’t think it should be something that holds him back from doing things that he gets a lot out of,’ she says. ‘A lot of the friendships that he’s made at Cubs will carry on until he leaves school, and certainly the skills and experiences will stand him in good stead for his future.’

Without Scouting, Joshua wouldn’t have found his community: his friends, his support. The people who will push his wheelchair to the campsite so that he can sleep out in a tent with them for the first time.

‘Everybody at Inveruie Scout Group wants him to succeed at all aspects of his life,’ Kay says with emotion in her voice. ‘At Cubs, Joshua has seen that it’s ok to try things, and if you don’t manage it at first, it doesn’t matter, as long as you’ve done your best.’ For Joshua, growing from a little boy to a teenager, there will be many days when he needs to use crutches - and many more when his friends from Scouting will support him. 

This story was originally printed in the December 2016 Issue of Scouting Magazine, which you can download as a PDF or read online.

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