A house is shown against a city backdrop with all dark windows and a hurricane circling overhead, blowing the palm trees forcefully while a mother and daughter hold each other lovingly inside.

Sickle Cell and Hurricane Ian

Last updated: October 2022

As a mom and caregiver, I have only one word........ WAWWW!!

When you are a caregiver of a child with sickle cell disease you need to be very cautious about what you are doing, saying, and talking because your little ones are watching.

How do I do this?

It all started in the third week of Sickle Cell Awareness Month. I went to the store to get some groceries when the very kind lady at the door looked at my cart and asked: "you have no water?". Her question was that one puzzle piece because I saw a very weird crowded situation at the store, but I didn't know what was going on.

A lot of people had water, and long lines, it was just so crazy. So when the lady asked me about water, I asked her "what is going on in here?". She smiled and said: "oh you don't know? The hurricane is coming next week!".

Welcome to Florida

I was shocked! Remember....this is my first year living in Florida, and my first time dealing with hurricane season. When I look at the news things look so far from your "bed". But when you are in your local store and you hear the word hurricane, it starts to feel more serious. So... I went to my car to put my groceries and walked back into the store. Ready to do my hurricane shopping!

Google was my best friend at that moment because I asked Google for a Hurricane kit and a shopping list. Google what I need to have in my home during a Hurricane. WATER! FOOD! FLASHLIGHTS and BATTERIES!

I did my Hurricane shopping, while I was on the phone with friends and families who are living in Florida as well and asking them a million questions as if they were working for the Hurricane Center. Some of the answers gave me hope, and some of them made me scared. While driving home I was so in shock and still on the phone. My daughter asked a lot of questions, and I was honest! I shared with her what is going on and that we need to prepare for the worst!

NO Andressa, NO!

That same night she started complaining about pain in her back, chest, stomach, and head. I knew immediately that I did something wrong! Andressa this is NOT the way you handle things! So the next few days I decided to have a conversation with her. I needed to protect my princess from being scared, and anxious, developing a pain crisis, and so much more.

I explained to her that if it's gonna be bad, we are going to drive to a safe place. I told her not to believe everything you see on the internet because sometimes people are putting a lot of negative things on the internet.

Hello Google

Google was my biggest support at that time, I asked Google "how to support my child during Hurricane?" "What to do with my child during a Hurricane?". Google had a lot of beautiful and supportive answers: keep your child busy, distraction is important. So I went to the store to get some puzzle books, teen magazines, and a lot of snacks and things she likes. I bought her favorite food, ice cream, and decided to make it a positive memory as much as possible.

She started to feel more relaxed, asked a lot of questions, and slowly but surely her pain faded away. Even though I was scared and anxious, it was my responsibility as a mom to protect her! A lot of things were going through my mind. Because if she develops a pain crisis in the middle of the storm, I can't go to the ER. And it is not fair that she is stressing because of the way I am handling things.

I decided to be scared via WhatsApp; instead of talking over the phone, I was sending messages via WhatsApp. To cry when she is sleeping, to be strong in front of her, and to let her know that I will protect her in the best way possible. She trusted me! Such a heavy word.

Refreshing till 5 am

On the day of the hurricane, I decided to let her sleep early so she doesn't have to experience the crazy winds and rain. I was literally waiting for Hurricane Ian to come our way. I refreshed the CNN and Fox Orlando pages a million times. I saw him coming... slowly, but surely. I knew one thing for sure... I don't want my princess to experience this. I couldn't sleep at all. I went to bed at 5 am, when I knew for sure that everything was ok.

My princess was sleeping as a rose, with no idea what was going on in the real world. I looked at her and promised her while she was sleeping, that I will always protect her from all the "bad" things that are going on in the real world. A promise is a promise!

During the past few days I've learned a couple of things:

  • be honest to your kids, but think about how you can protect them
  • you don't have to share scary details
  • when you are a caregiver you need to be strong
  • try to distract your warrior in a positive way
  • answer questions in the best way possible
  • if you don't know what to do, ask a family member, a friend, or GOOGLE.
  • your child needs to be able to trust you and feel safe! ALWAYS!

My prayers are going to all the affected families by Hurricane Ian.

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