There’s something about me that not many people know. I have a condition called sickle cell disease. This is a blood disorder in which my red blood cells are crescent-shaped. This unusual shape restricts my blood cells’ ability to carry oxygen and causes fits of unimaginable pain all over my body. Sickle cell causes a load of other issues like Leg Ulcers. Leg Ulcers due to decreased blood flow can be disabling Acetic Necrosis in the shoulder or hips. Necrosis generally occurs when blood flow is blocked in vessels that supply bone, the bone does not get enough oxygen, and the bone tissue may die. This can be remedied through surgeries or a total hip replacement.
Priapism is another complication most male warriors experience. This is a prolonged erection of the penis, usually without sexual arousal. Amongst others.
These complications vary from warriors but all boil down to UNIMAGINABLE PAIN. Yes, pain is the hallmark of sickle cell disease
Personally, I’ve survived two Necrosis surgeries and currently battling another in my shoulder. When you look at me, it’s easy to assume I’m able-bodied and well. I do not fit the stereotypical look of an “ill person,” unless you’re extremely vigilant and notice my discolored eyes. But for the most part, you’d never know I’m sick. This, I think, causes those around me to compartmentalize me into “sick Mary”, “lazy Mary” and “well Mary” based on my good and bad days.
As I previously noted, it’s rare for one aspect of our lives to be present in all other aspects. I guess it makes sense that people categorize me the way they do in their heads. But it’s incorrect to do so. I’m a warrior, and it affects everything. It’s not simply a blood disorder. It has a significant impact on everything. As if the physical pain it causes weren’t enough, it also affects my mobility, my energy, and even my mental health. It can really be a heavy burden to carry around all the time.
But I’m learning that because the sickle cell is the single thread woven into each patch of my life, it is also prevalent in my character. I think I have some good character traits that I’ve cultivated because of my life experience as a Warrior. These include kindness and empathy, and being fun-loving. They are the things that make me, me!
Generally speaking, people tend to feel sorry for me because I’m ill, and though parts of me can understand it, I wish that wasn’t their response. Sickle cell, to some degree, has helped mold me into the person that I am. I am the person that I am because I have this disease.
Sometimes we endure the most difficult circumstances because we are being molded into becoming better, more resilient, more understanding, and more caring people. It may be difficult while we go through it, but the end result, once we have made it through, is always Beautiful.
I’m, a twenty-eight-year-old sickle cell warrior. This is who I am.