Still Kicking at 52
Hello, my name is Tammy and I have been living with sickle cell disease for 52 years. I was born in 1969 and babies were not yet screened for this disease where I am from. So, for four years I was in pain at times so severe, that my parents or doctors did not know what was wrong with me.
Dismissed from the start
First, my parents were told that it must be growing pains. Then, after my second sister was born two years later they told my parents that I may be "acting out" because I was jealous of my little sister. As you know, sickle cell disease is real! At age four I was finally diagnosed with the disease, and my parents were told that I may not have a full life and childbirth would be difficult at best.
Defeating the odds
I have outlived their prognoses and I have two beautiful healthy children. Thankfully my children did not inherit this disease from me. They both have the trait and are somewhat fearful to have children of their own because they have seen me fight this battle for years. I have been to several doctors who only provided me with pain medication and told me to drink lots of water.
My saving grace
I have spent many many scary nights in hospitals all alone with no one understanding what I was going through. Eight years ago after a long hospital stay I met a new doctor. She has been a God sent! I have learned so much more about my disease and all the ways it affects us; I am now pretty healthy. I gave up eating meat, I get plenty of exercise, and I take hydroxyurea. This disease is tough but I AM TOUGHER!
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