Overcoming Challenges of Sickle Cell: You Are Not Alone
Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that affects many African Americans. If you know anybody with sickle cell, please understand the pain and suffering that they may have gone through (or are currently going through).
Personally, I have suffered many hardships at the hands of sickle cell. However, I also have overcome many challenges. This article is to serve as a tool to share a glimpse of some of the battles that I have faced over the years with sickle cell. Just know that you are not alone.
My first crisis
I remember sitting down with my father and he recently told me a story about my first sickle cell crisis when I was just a few weeks old. I was brought home from the hospital and I kept crying uncontrollably.
He stated that the pain and suffering that I was feeling at that time was very scary for them. My parents did not know what was wrong with me, so they took me to the hospital. Upon arriving at the hospital, many tests were conducted. As a result, I was diagnosed with having sickle cell anemia. My parents thought that I was going to die at that moment because they were unaware of the disease.
Going to college with sickle cell
I recall another serious incident when I dealt with a sickle cell crisis while trying to obtain my bachelor's degree. I recall that I was always getting sick, regardless of what preventative measures I took to make sure my health was good.
Complications and hospitalizations
There was a point where I was hospitalized about three times in one college semester. Between the hospitalizations and the blood transfusions, I failed the semester. I had to catch up and take classes in the summertime. I felt like such a failure because I was not excelling in anything that I did at that time. Each hospitalization lasted approximately 2-3 weeks and I felt alone because nobody understood what I was going through.
I never gave up
I never gave up and finally received my bachelor’s degree. I wanted to continue to challenge myself, so I went to receive my master's degree. This era in my life was particularly rough for me because I moved away. I was away from all my support and family.
Despite the setbacks
I can recall that I got sick, which resulted in a sickle cell crisis. I had pain all over my body and was unable to move. I thought I was going to die right at that moment. If it was not for my classmate that called me and rushed me to the hospital when he found me, I do not know where I would be today. This particular sickle cell crisis took me out of my internship practicum. Because of this, I did not pass the course and had to retake it. This was another moment where I felt like sickle cell was just a burden in my life.
You are NOT alone
The caveats of my experiences with sickle cell are to show those dealing with the disease that they are not the only ones out there. Seek support from friends, family, and groups. I know some may not understand what you are going through. Some may also think that you may be using the disease as a crutch. No matter what the scenario is, just remember that there are others out there like you. You are not alone.
What awareness month activities do you plan to get involved in?