I’m turning 30 in a few months, and as I look back on my sickle cell journey, I realize that I learned the most about myself when I was in a sickle cell crises. It’s kinda weird to say that, but I feel like when I’m in crises, that is my lowest point physically, mentally and emotionally. And yet, through all that, I’m still able to survive, rise above and keep moving.
Sickle Cell is not my enemy, as my greatest enemy is myself. I feel like in some ways, I needed to have sickle cell. Without it I would probably work myself to the brink of exhaustion, or stress myself to a psychotic break. Such is my personality, a worrywort, an overachiever, a constant doer. Sickle cell makes me stop (even when I don’t want to!), take a break, re-focus my priorities and evaluate my life. Sure, it happens very regularly and most painfully; but do ‘normal’ people ever get to take that time out? Do they ever have that internal warning system that is screaming for them to get back on the right track?
When I’m overworking my body, and not getting enough rest, or drinking enough water, sickle cell tells me, “Hold on sista girl, your body is your temple and you have to take care of it.” When I’m booking appointments and planning trips to and fro, working mad overtime, and packing my schedule; sickle cell tells me, “Tosin, you need a few days rest in between these trips and shifts.” Sickle cell has made me eat better foods, cut out the fried foods and junk, and get extra friendly with fruits and vegetables. Sickle cell made me not drink alcohol excessively, and prevented me from falling into the ‘wrong’ crowd in my impressionable youth.
[stextbox id=”grey” color=”b04fae” ccolor=”6c08f6″ bcolor=”000000″]Sickle cell has made me live a better life. A life of balance, a life of temperance, a life of listening to the inner workings of my body and soul. Buddhist monks study and meditate for decades to reach this level of self awareness. And it came to me, directly through my DNA. [/stextbox]
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that sickle cell is the greatest thing since man discovered fire, but at the same time, it’s not the enemy. Sickle cell does not control me, limit me or own me. Sickle cell empowers me. Sickle cell has given me a calling, my own imprinted destiny. I do not have to go through life wondering, what is my purpose, or my mission. I’ve never been confused as to my purpose on this earth. I never had to go through the angst of teenage rebellion, or the quarterlifer crises, or any other hurdles that other people go through. Frankly, I was too busy during those times fighting for my life to be concerned with such little issues.
So I guess, as I look back, I see sickle cell not as a curse, but to me, it has morphed into something more. For without it, I think I would not be the person I am today. Without it, I would not have the relationships I have today. Without sickle cell, I would not have the life I have today.
My mom has always said, “Your life is a life of testimony. So live my child. Live.”