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Meet Zaranda: IRS Auditor/Mother/Drum Line Player

This week’s warrior is Zaranda. Spunky Zaranda is an IRS Auditor (so don’t get on her bad side;). In addition to being simply gorgeous sickle cell warrior, Zaranda is a full time mommy and part time Drum Line Queen. Read more of her story.

Hello Zaranda, it’s lovely to ‘meet’ you. Tell us a little bit about your life growing up and when you found out you had sickle cell. I was 14 years old and living with my dad when I was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. I use to get sick a lot when I was younger with a lot of knee and elbow pain especially after swimming but my parents didn’t know why. My mom would often give me Stanback or a goody powder and I would go to sleep and feel better once I woke up the next day. Once diagnosed with it I was so scared because my brother Michael had just died at the age of 31 on Christmas day, 1991 from complications of his sickle cell anemia. My dad and I thought I was going to die too. It was so strange, it’s ten of us and only me and my brother (the oldest boy and the youngest girl) has SCD.

So sorry to hear of your brother’s passing. That must have been scary to get diagnosed at that time. Switching gears, what do you do for a living? What does one need to get your job? I am a tax examiner for the Internal Revenue Service. You would need a clean criminal background, a high school diploma and some tax related experience that you often get in training.
Describe a typical day at work. A typical day at my job consist of  getting there at 6am; review correspondence received from taxpayers to see how I can assist them with there tax audit. Once the phone line open at 8am, work a few hours (anywhere from 1 to 5 hours) on the toll free line answering tax related questions and assisting taxpayers as much as possible with other tax related issues. Once that’s done work more cases then go home.

How is it that you can manage your SC and still have a thriving career?

I get plenty of rest, maintain a healthy diet, exercise as much as possible, take my meds and see my doctors regularly. If I’m at work and I start to feel ill, just slow down and drink as much water as possible to stay hydrated and take meds but once I get home I go to sleep and usually feel better. Some days are better than others. My advice to someone wanting to join my profession—go for it, just don’t let it stress you out.

Have you noticed a change in how your coworkers treat you once they find out you have SCD? I haven’t noticed a difference because none of my co workers know. But I do feel the need to let someone know something in case anything happens. My manager knows I have a medical condition but doesn’t know exactly what it is.

Has sickle cell limited your life in any way? No SCD hasn’t limited me, for example, one of my favorite hobbies are playing snare drum for the Atlanta Ol Skool drumline and I love it! I try not to over do it with all the marching, carrying a heavy drum and being out there in the hot sun but there’s nothing else I’d rather do than play drums with them. We’re like family and I love them like brothers.
That sounds so cool and fun! Kudos to you for finding something you love. When things get tough, what helps you overcome? Prayer helps a lot in my life I thank God everyday just to see another day especially when going through a crisis.

Do you have pain on a regular basis? What is your daily medication regimen?Yes I have pain on a regular basis especially at work and I manage it by taking OTC pain meds. I also take a multi vitamin, omega 3 fish oil, folic acid and aleve or excedrin back and body for mild to moderate pain. For moderate to severe pain I take Ibuprofen, Vicodin, Acetaminophen/Codeine #3, Morphine, Phenergen etc. If those don’t help I go see my doctor to get admitted in the hospital for oxygen and a blood transfusion and of course more pain meds even though I hate needles and hate being stuck by them because of my small veins.

How has SC impacted your personal relationships? In the past guys would run the other way so I stopped telling people because they would tease me a lot because the whites of my eyes are yellow and call me sickly smurf. People just don’t get it no matter how much I try to educate them even family members. I’m single now and I have two intelligent, wonderful kids.

In my last relationship it took me a whole year before I told him that I had sickle cell.  I made sure to let him know it’s a hereditary red blood disease so you can’t catch it. He still didn’t understand why I got sick so much and was afraid and awkward around me so we ended the relationship. After that any other relationship I got into I just didn’t tell them unless absolutely necessary.

You have 2 amazing children. How was your pregnancy/labor/delivery?  When I was pregnant my pregnancy was considered high risk and I had to stay on bed rest and couldn’t work and had my most severe crisis then. I was constantly admitted into the hospital. With my first pregnancy labor and delivery was difficult but my second labor and delivery was 45% better. Both of my kids have the sickle cell trait but not the disease.

What would you tell the 14 year old version of yourself if you could? I would tell her take care of yourself, get your rest, stay hydrate and whatever you want to do, just do it! Don’t let your SCD stop you or limit you. Back then my docs told me it was a lot of things I can’t do because of my SCD such as join the marching band or be a cheerleader. But I joined the marching band anyway and played those drums…I just didn’t let my doc know :0) I wish I had joined sooner instead of being afraid.

Any other advice for the warriors out there?

Yes…stay positive! When you feel sick don’t be ashamed get your rest and once you feel better go after your dreams! Right now I’m considering going back to school to get a degree in music. Don’t let anything or no one stop you. Look at T-Boz from TLC we wouldn’t have the number one selling girl group of all time had she let her SCD stop her.
She is one of my greatest inspirations! Once I saw her get out there and do her thing, I knew I could get out there and do mine…and you can too. SCD is not necessarily a death sentence, it’s a way of life.

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Sickle Cell Warrior

Sickle Cell Warrior

Tosin is dedicated to perpetuating healthy and positive messages about sickle cell. Although sickle cell is a subject often taboo in the communities this condition is most prevalent, Tosin’s message is that sickle cell is not something to be ashamed of and you can live a rich and fulfilling life with sickle cell. Sickle cell warriors are the most amazing people in the world, with a great fortitude for compassion, willpower and strength.

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