Sickle Cell: To Tell or Not to Tell
There are two sides of the coin and this article attempts to examine both sides.
If you do tell him/her that you have sickle cell, it might dramatically affect your relationship. Your boyfriend could freak out seeing you so sick and dump you. Your girlfriend could decide that she didn’t sign up for constant hospitalizations and doctor visits. Your fiance’s family could descend on you, scaring him with horror stories of all the ‘sicklers’ they know until it put a strain on your relationship. Your beau might decide that he/she wants to be with you regardless, but finds it hard to navigate the chronic medical condition and your relationship has alot of strain and drama as a result of it. Your best friend could decide they can’t ‘afford’ having such a financial responsibility and bail. Telling is often the hardest choice, and many warriors can testify that letting your siginificant other know about your sickle cell often spells the demise of the relationship.
If you don’t tell him/her, then the burden is oftentimes on you to hide your condition. A lady once told me that she always keeps her condition a secret, and that in her current relationship (going close to a year) her man doesn’t know anything about her having sickle cell. She hides her meds, doesn’t let him over when she’s sick, and keeps their dates short to minimize him noticing when she’s in pain. She tells him she has the flu or some other malady to keep him at bay. This surprised and saddened me, because it’s hard to imagine what depths she had to go through to keep her man. I asked her why she did this, and she stated that in her experience, everytime she told a guy about sickle cell, they always left leaving her heartbroken and devastated. This was the only way she thought of to protect the relationship.. It blocks you from having that deep level of intimacy that all relationships crave.
Not telling can actually do more harm than good, since the other person doesn’t understand what you are going through, and may misconstrue your actions and emotions. For example, if you are cranky because you are in pain, your partner might think that you are just being a mean bitch that day for no reason. Or if you can’t hang out because you’re in a crises, your partner might think that you don’t want to spend time with him/her.
The one thing I told her, and that I’m telling you all today is that the person who is right for you, who is God-sent, custom made and right for you, will not find sickle cell as a dealbreaker. I can understand putting up our defenses, and becoming cynical and jaded, but please, don’t give up on love.
For me, I considered sickle cell a boon in that department. It helped weed out the ne-er do wells, the losers, the boys that were just after me for 1 thing…etc. It helped fade out the fair-weather friends, and those that were just using me in one shape or another.
At the end of the day, the decision to share your heart, or keep sickle cell a secret is up to you. There are advantages and disadvantages in every scenario, and every relationship is different. Just proceed prayerfully and thoughtfully, and try to do what’s right and best for you.
I would like to leave this topic open for discussion. Here is the question: in your experience as a sickle cell warrior, do you tell your partner that you have sickle cell or keep it a secret? Post your thoughts and advice in the comments section.