a woman with sickle cells on her chest proud on every day of a calendar

A Crescent Every Day

It was around Christmas when I had my first crisis. I was four years old.

We had traveled out of town for the celebration when it happened. My parents quickly returned to the city to seek medical attention. It was then that we were told I had sickle cell.

Confused

During this time, I battled with myself (wondering what exactly my condition meant). Does this mean I’ll die soon? Am I going to always get sick? Am I even normal?

These thoughts would pop up in my mind, but I couldn’t find the voice to speak out. So I kept quiet, and it ate me up.

Frustrated and exhausted

My mum did not help matters when she was taking me to herbal places, churches, religious grounds, etc. I understand that as a mother, in that kind of frustration was only looking for a solution. She couldn’t bear seeing me sick at all and wanted to at least ease my pain.

But rather, this exhausted my hopes and drained the life out of me.

Trying to find acceptance

Here I am trying to accept and adjust to my condition, and she’s making it look like there is a solution somewhere. And each time it didn’t work, I hated trying more. My patience was running out, and I began to question God.

At this point, even though I had accepted my condition in my head, not saying it loud was not “accepting enough” I knew I needed to own it. But I couldn’t do it. It would break my mum’s heart, I feared.

After mum passed away, I had to go live with my Aunty. That environment only made things worse for me. She would always remind me of my condition and would sometimes even say awful things like "you’re useless” to me. My self-esteem was attacked.

In hiding

The situation in school didn’t help either, and I hid from everyone. I was ashamed to exist. I remember I even started hating showing up anywhere. I just wanted to be indoors.

I’ve moved around a lot, mostly because of my condition but my dad’s occupation had something to do with it too. And all this time, the people surrounding me didn’t make it easy for me to accept myself. So I kept mute but was dying inside. I really needed to be on my own and change my environment, learn things about myself, explore and accept who I am. I finally got my own apartment.

Becoming independent

Dad hated the idea of me living alone because he feared I might be alone when a crisis strikes, and that won’t be good. He was right. But I also needed to learn to do things for myself, my way, get to know myself so that when someone is around, it’s a bonus, and if not, I could still help myself.

Learning to be okay

As a crescent, you need to understand that sickle cell is a part of you. You are going to be living in this cycle of crises, recovery, infection, recovery, and more crises. Learn to be ok with that. That is the only way you make the best out of your strong days. Keep in mind that weak days will come when they do.

I will fight, and when I get better, I’ll enjoy and appreciate every minute because I don’t know if the next time I would fall.

Finding acceptance every day

Accepting to be a crescent is not a one-day thing. You need to accept a crescent every day, during and after a fall, and on the good days.

I'm not perfect

Yes, I am weak sometimes, I’m not like everyone else, and I’m not perfect. Yes, I live with sickle cell, but I’m also adventurous and bold, beautiful, smart, and amazing. And like every other human, I’m not perfect.

But, it's ok!

But that is ok. Knowing and being at peace that "it’s ok" is key to happier days and stronger times. I know because I’m living proof.

You are a crescent. Accept it today, tomorrow, accept it again and again. Being sickled only means we are unique. Find your voice and speak up. There is no shame in that. Own it.

A Warrior,
Rhedd Maya

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