How old where you when you found out you had sickle cell?
Since I was a baby.
How did your childhood and your parents influence you in your choice of career?
Well, I grew into the person I am today. That is to say, my choice of career was influenced majorly by my personality, which my parents encouraged. Also I wasn’t brought up differently from my non-SS siblings.
What do you do? What kind of experience and schooling does one need to get your job?
I work in a Marketing Communications firm. I have a science background, but a background in mass communications will help you break into this field as well.
How were you able to cope with school and sickle cell?
I coped well, I have a really strong personality and my approach to sickle cell was: “You won’t stop me from being me”. College was a bit rough though, but then, I was either very active or very sick. I used SCD to my advantage for courses I did not enjoy (missed classes and my lecturers were soft on me). When I was younger, SCD was a stigma, it made me feel ashamed of myself, felt like a ‘half-being’ . But once I grew up past my teens, I realized that it’s okay that I have sickle cell, it’s not my fault, and I’m just gonna do me, irrespective of the condition. I’d exert myself till I could go no more. It was hard telling people that I had sickle cell. When I did have a crises, the pain was crazy, and I had to change my approach to drugs and hospitals (I used to hate them). I was fortunate enough to own a car in school, and was comfortable financially. The only thing that got me down back then, which I still can’t stand was pity; and I don’t accommodate that from anyone.
How do you manage SCD and still maintain a thriving career?
I’ve been working for approximately eight months and just had my first major crisis that caused me to miss work. I’m still adjusting to the work pattern. But, what I do is I do my best when I’m fine so when I’m not, it covers up. For instance, I won’t skip work because I have a headache or a little pain; I save the skipping for a ‘crisis’ day. My job is more mental than physical so, I can be sick in bed and still work (thank God for my Blackberry).I really don’t see why I can’t maintain a thriving career. I’m still new on the job, but I hope to go places in the near future.
Have you noticed a difference in how your coworkers treat you once they know you have SCD?
Well, as I mentioned earlier, I hate being pitied, so I made my line manager promise not to go all soft on me. As for my co-workers, being soft on me will be at their risk. Our HR department understands when I call in sick, as I let them know that being SS means I might have to skip work sometimes, and I also explained what triggers a crisis.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to join your profession that has sickle cell?
You can be whatever you set your mind to be. Sickle cell makes you resilient and that is an advantage in life. Pain and disappointments aren’t new to you. Having sickle cell yet still being confident in yourself would get you to the top. You also have to love your Folic acid and water 😉
Has sickle cell limited any areas of your life?
Hmm…maybe my love life.
When you do reach obstacles in your life, what helps you through it?
Faith in God and love from my family!
Do you have regular pain (more than 2x a week)? How do you cope with this when you are working?
Not regular, about coping, depending on the level of pain, I work until I can’t.
What medications do you take when you are in pain?
Diclofenac (like Toradol), Tramadol (Ultram), Pentasozine (Naproxen) and Fortwin injection
What is your daily medication regimen?
how has sickle cell affected your personal life? For example, are you in a relationship, do you have kids, etc.
In MANY ways!!! I did not get into some relationships because I’m SS and the guy couldn’t handle it. Those are the painful parts, but then I move on, trusting God…
Looking at the 14 year old version of yourself, what would you tell him or her if you could…?
Don’t ever see yourself as less than normal because you have sickle cell. People treat you the way you treat yourself!
That is such great advice. Is there anything else that you would want to tell other sickle cell warriors?
Keep up the fight. There are many ups and more downs, but if it don’t kill you, it makes you stronger right? Yup! And very importantly, God created you, has a purpose for us all and did not promise a life without pain.