Rebuilding My Confidence With AVN
I believe everyone living with sickle cell disorder has an idea of what avascular necrosis is. Even if you have not experienced it, you must have seen someone or heard of someone that has.
What is avascular necrosis?
Avascular necrosis is one of the most common complications of sickle cell. It occurs when the bone tissue dies due to the lack of blood supply.
When the red blood cells become sickle, they can get stuck and obstruct blood flow and supply to some organs. This blockage can cause different complications, including avascular necrosis, which is commonly called AVN.
My experience with AVN
My story with AVN is probably not new to you, but it is still worth talking about.
I was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in 2016 few months after I was admitted to the hospital for a vaso-occlusive crisis. Since then, I have been managing avascular necrosis as a student and freelancer. It hasn't been an easy journey, but I am grateful for where I am today.
Getting my groove back
AVN has had as big of an impact on my mental health as it has on my physical health. Having to walk to classes using a walking stick drowned my self-confidence. I almost lost myself.
Years later, I am now starting to love myself again and learning to accept that avascular necrosis might be a long-term complication and might even resurface. I am starting to realize that my worth does not depend on my physical appearance, and most importantly, I am rebuilding my self-confidence. Here are the six things that have helped me:
1. Reading a lot of books
No one can talk about personal development without mentioning reading. Reading is very important for your growth. In the past two years, I have read so many books that I have lost count.
Find what interests you
I finish reading some books, and others I drop after reading a few pages. You can always drop a book and pick a new one if you are feeling it. I always keep in mind that I am not in competition with anyone. It is not about the number of books I've read but about how they impacted me.
So, if you struggle with reading books, try to pick up books that will interest you. I read a lot of personal development books because that's what I am interested in.
2. Getting inspired by other people's stories
Having sickle cell can be isolating and lonely, but with avascular necrosis, the loneliness gets worse. It's like everyone, but you have their lives together. Well, that's a lie.
Listening to other people's stories will help you understand that we all have struggles, and we all have battles that we fight.
I read a lot of biographies of famous people. I am interested in how they rose to fame, the struggles they had, the battles they conquered, and even the ones they are still fighting. Fortunately, many of these people do not hide their stories, so I found some on the internet, in their books, and even on YouTube.
My personal favorites
Stephen Hawking and Nick Vujicic are two people whose stories really inspired me and still do. Stephen had a disability that left him totally paralyzed, but he still went on to become a renowned scientist. I read about Nick in his book "Life Without Limits" where he wrote about what it feels like to be born without arms or legs.
3. Sharing my story with others
Although I get inspired by other people's stories, I also share my own to not only inspire someone but also to create the connection that I want, which reduces loneliness.
I use my blog and social media to share my story and it helps. I have been able to connect with people who also live with avascular necrosis and even older people that have dealt with this complication.
4. Upgrading my skills
I think one of the best actions I take to keep my self-confidence is upgrading my skills. I'm not sure if there is a study about the connection, but I noticed my self-confidence improved when I learned a new skill. I felt happier with myself.
You can try it too. Look for a skill that you are interested in learning, and go for it! Take classes or learn on free platforms like YouTube and Google.
5. Taking action
No, I wasn't just learning or getting inspired. I also took action.
Putting in the work to get results also increased my confidence in myself, getting out of my own mind and actively doing what I wanted. I went for some acting auditions, started working on my education again, and took more active steps towards meeting new people and building relationships.
6. Caring for myself
Taking care of myself was also important because I didn't feel very confident in how I looked. My physical appearance had been altered because of avascular necrosis (the way I walk is no longer the same), so I knew I should start caring for myself.
Changing the outside to change the inside
A major change I made was to change my outfits. I am starting to see fashion as a way to build my self-confidence and express myself. Also, exercising had an impact on my self-confidence. Although I don't exercise every day, I know it's a journey, so I will keep going.
I can feel my self-confidence growing gradually; I'm slowly getting there.
Do you have posture issues as a result of your disease?