Hi Brandon. So nice to meet you. How old were you when you found out you had sickle cell? My mother found out I had sickle cell when I was 2. I always knew I was different, and finally figured out why when I was around six or seven.
How did your childhood and your parents influence you in your choice of career? My mother was the greatest influence. She always told me that sickle cell disease was not a reason to limit myself and to always chase my dreams.
What do you do? What kind of education or training does one need to have your job? I’m a truck driver. Usually you have to enroll in a truck driving school and complete the necessary on-the-road hours with your instructor. The company that hires you often puts you through the program, although sometimes you might have to pay upfront out of pocket. I work between 9 and 12 hours a day; 6 days a week–but I’m home every night.
How do your coworkers treat you knowing that you have sickle cell? Fortunately for me, my coworkers have been very understanding. I think it’s because of living in the South, there are more African-Americans out here, and so more people have some inkling of the impact of sickle cell. My boss is pretty understanding and she works with me and my specific scheduling needs. My coworkers also pitch in, covering me if I’m home sick.
Do you have sickle cell pain while driving or on the job? During winter, I have joint pain a few times a week. However, luckily for me I have not had serious pain while driving. My typical day starts around midnight. I’m in and out of refineries picking up gas to be delivered to different gas stations in the New Orleans area and parts of Mississippi. I don’t take pain meds while driving–if I’m feeling bad usually I just won’t come in. I do feel like I must work as hard as my co-works do to show them that I am capable of doing job.
How were you able to manage sickle cell and school? Luckily for me, my siblings were very helpful and supportive. They helped me stay on track with classes whenever I did miss school.
It’s a good thing that you had such a great, supportive family! So what are some of your best tips to survive sickle cell on a regular basis? It’s simple. Drink plenty of water, get lots of rest and eat right.
Share your medication regimen with us. The only med I take daily is Folic acid. For minor pains like joint pain I take Advil, but for more serious pain I take Vicodin.
What are your sources of inspiration when you reach obstacles in your life? Prayer and Family.
Looking back at the 14 year old version of yourself, what would you tell him if you could? To enjoy being 14 and not to be so shy.
Thank you Brandon, for sharing your life and story with us. Good luck in all your future endeavors!