How Sickle Cell Complications Delayed My Studies
I'm super excited that I get to share my story here with you.
Growing up in denial
As a kid, I was made to believe that people living with sickle cell disorder are always sick, in pain, and in the hospital.
It was difficult seeing myself as someone living with the disorder. You can say I grew up in denial. This is because I didn't have many crises. I didn't have any hospital admissions.
I learned from personal experience that sickle cell affects everyone living with it differently. And many people do not understand this. They compare one sickle cell warrior with another.
More than pain or hospital visits
Sickle cell is more than the hospital visits.
It is a full package that comes with different complications. One complication that I've been dealt with and that delayed me is avascular necrosis.
One question I get so often when I mention avascular necrosis is: "What is avascular necrosis?"
Avascular necrosis is a sickle cell complication associated with the death of the bone tissues due to blood shortage. Basically, it occurs when the sickled red blood cell blocks bone tissues and prevents blood from getting there, thereby causing the bone to die.
Attending university with sickle cell
I had a crisis in 2016 (which is like the only crisis I have had in a decade) that got me admitted for days. About five months after the crisis, I started feeling pain in my left hip.
At this stage of my life, I was in my second year at the university.
At first, I thought it was pain that would go after some days so I didn't bother attending to it. Slowly, the pain grew worse and everyone around me became worried.
That was when my journey to getting diagnosed with avascular necrosis started. I started by going to the school health center where I was told to do an x-ray. After the x-ray, my doctor said nothing was found in the hip.
Later, I learned that avascular necrosis does not appear in an x-ray in its early stages. I guess the doctors did not know this because they kept giving me pain relief and asked me to do another x-ray.
My hip started degenerating and became worse, it finally showed in an x-ray. By this time, the degeneration was already in stage 4 and my grades in school were already suffering.
The pain got worse and I was advised to start using a walking aid. The thought of using a walking aid at nineteen was tough to handle and I almost lost myself. I became sad, lost interest in things including school.
Fortunately, I got support especially from friends in sickle cell support groups and family members so I didn't lose myself.
By the time I returned to school, my grades were too low. I was supposed to be in my final year but I had to take another course and start all over. It was either I start all over or risk being withdrawn by the school.
Physical pain can impact your mental health
I tell people, sickle cell is not just about physical pain. There is a lot the physical pain can do to your mental health and in turn, affect your life.
So, there you have it. Thank you for reading this far. Till next time.
Did you go to the ER within the past year?