Anything Can Happen
Last updated: July 2022
Today was almost a bad day.
Maybe it was self-induced anxiety about starting surgery, what is known as the hardest rotation of medical school – for good reason. The hours are pretty awful and I am already exhausted, sleep-deprived hungry, and dehydrated – all bad things for sickle cell. Unfortunately, this is just something I’ll have to survive over the next few months.
Working through the pain
This morning, I woke up around 4:45 am. Way too early if you ask me. My stomach was bothering me but I knew I had to go to work because we only get 3 absences for the next 8 weeks – oof. I was okay enough until I started driving. I started to feel nauseous and then my leg started hurting. It was in my lower shin. I don’t know how to describe it but I picture it as a fiery sharp sensation. It would come and go in the same instant but the pain, even for a second, was gripping.
I started to get nervous as I had to be in the hospital soon and wasn’t sure I would even be able to walk. I texted my mom, we prayed, and I limped my way to the hospital just barely on time. And no one has any idea it happened. I meant to take some pain medicine right as I got there but things got hectic quickly and I didn’t have time to before we started rounding. And eventually, without me even realizing it, I wasn’t in pain anymore.
Looking back on my day
One of my favorite shows, 'This Is Us', has this saying “you never know how you’ll remember a day because until it’s over, you can always remember it for something else.” While watching it, I simply thought it was a beautiful sentiment. Especially for children as I remember hardly anything of my childhood and what I do remember is only the good stuff.
As I reflect on today, I feel that saying really applies to life with sickle cell; In positive and negative ways. Like, I can remember really big happy events in my life that were negatively impacted by a sickle cell crisis, but I also don’t remember most of the days I’ve had pain crises. And even today, after being in so much pain this morning, I totally forgot I was having pain until it came back.
It was a wonderful day in clinic working with the best surgeon who told jokes to his patients. I laughed all day and got to go home early. I completely forgot about how awful the start of the day was until this moment. It’s funny how our minds do that. Strong emotions can be really consuming, especially the negative ones, but so can the positive ones.
It's a phenomenon I have experienced before. I call it distracting from sickle cell pain. I am usually unable to distract myself from the pain. Of course, if it is mild enough, I go on about my day and I no longer really feel it. But truly distracting myself from intense pain... I have never been able to do that.
Distracting yourself from sickle cell pain
My brother was the first to distract me from the pain. I don’t remember anything about the crisis I was having except that I was around 9 years of age and that the pain was bad enough that I didn’t want to move. But I remember that day as the day I started writing because while I was in pain my brother told me I could write my own songs. He knew I loved to sing because I was always singing and dancing around the house.
He probably has no idea how doing something so small not only made that day better but forever changed my life. The pain seemingly stopped as I picked up the pencil to write my first song. I went on to write lots of songs and writing became another favorite hobby that has led me here today.
So today was almost a really bad day and even though the pain is back. Ugh. It always comes back. At least I am home now. I can take medication, use my heat pad, get some rest, and hopefully be better tomorrow. And 10 years from now, all I will remember is what a lovely day I had in clinic telling jokes.
Are you interested in connecting with other sickle cell warriors?