- How old where you when you found out you had sickle cell?
I was diagnosed with Sickle Cell (type: SC) when I was around 3 months old. I came to my own personal understanding of being diagnosed with sickle cell around the age of 5.
- How were you able to cope with school and sickle cell?
Coping with Sickle Cell and school was hard to say the least. I missed many days, many talent shows, and school dances as well as normal student activities due to Sickle Cell.
- How did your childhood and your parents influence you in your choice of career?
My childhood influenced the choice of my career of nursing because I’ve always wanted to help people. My parents influenced me by continuous motivation.
- What do you do? What kind of experience and schooling does one need to get your job?
I am currently an elementary school teacher’s assistant for third grade. The experience one may need to receive my job is to be a positive role model for children, to be understanding to the mind of a child, and furthermore to understand the differences that all children have that make them unique.
- Describe a typical day on your job.
A typical day on my job includes helping my students with homework, or any unfinished class work. We then normally have free play where we either tell stories, color, or get involved with arts and crafts. We have snack and then have outside play or gym play before my students are picked up by parents.
- How do you manage SCD and still maintain a thriving career?
I manage SCD and a thriving career in many ways. The most effective way is by staying healthy and active as much as I can while consuming healthy food that will help my body in any ways possible.
- Have you noticed a difference in how your coworkers treat you once they know you have SCD?
My co-workers do not treat me differently knowing that I have sickle cell because few of them actually know what it is.
- What advice would you give to someone wanting to join your profession that has sickle cell?
I would tell this person to thrive as much as possible, do not ignore the slightest bit of pain (from sickle cell) that you feel in your body because working with kids and being extremely active, it’ll only get worse.
- Has sickle cell limited any areas of your life?
Sickle cell has limited many areas of my life. From elementary school talent shows, to holding me back in doing stunts and tumbling in cheer. Also, things such as not being able to swim all the time with my friends too.
- When you do reach obstacles in your life, what helps you through it?
The number one thing that helps me get through the obstacles in life is prayer. I also keep the mindset that “it could be worse” so I always try to keep a positive attitude no matter what.
- Do you have regular pain (more than 2x a week)? How do you cope with this when you are working?
I have pain such as aches and extreme muscle stiffness regularly. I deal with this pain by trying to soak in hot baths. While at work, I normally keep a Tylenol on hand just in case I have a sudden outburst of pain.
- What is your daily medication regimen and what medications do you take when you are in pain?
My daily medication regimen is folic acid and vitamins such as Vitamin C and Vitamin D. When in pain, I normally balance between a dose of ibuprofen and oxycodone.
- How has sickle cell affected your personal life? For example, are you in a relationship, do you have kids, etc.
I currently don’t have any children, but sickle cell has affected my life as far as relationship wise and friendships. In my previous relationship, both my partner and I suffered from Sickle Cell. He had type SS while I had type SC. Though I was younger, I’ve always wanted children and we understood that it was not a good choice to knowingly have kids and allow my child to go through the same things as we both did. In my last relationship, it affected me because it was hard for my partner to know what was wrong with me and know how to help me when I was in extreme pain. As far as friendships, Sickle Cell is hard for me because I’m not able to always participate in activities with my friends such as swimming, hiking, etc.
- Looking at the 14-year-old version of yourself, what would you tell her if you could…?
Looking at the 14-year-old version of myself, I would continuously encourage myself tremendously. I would reassure myself that better days are coming. I would tell myself to stay focused on my dreams.
- Is there anything else that you would want to tell other sickle cell warriors?
Sickle Cell is not a downfall but simply a way to express how much of a warrior you are. Fighting everyday is hard and nobody can tell you otherwise. The pain of this disease is a reminder to yourself that you are strong and YOU ARE SURVIVING.