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Meet Theresa; Stroke Survivor, Daughter, Inspirational Warrior

Hello everyone. This Spotlight interview is going to be gritty, real and honest. Being a warrior is not limited to the battles won but is also about being able to talk about your scars and the daily struggles that we go through. And in this interview, Theresa Robinson is open, candid and beautiful. She inspires me ~ and I know she will inspire you too.

Hello my name is Theresa Robinson, a twenty eight year old woman diagnosed with Sickle cell Anemia from the time I was born in North Miami General Hospital in Miami, Florida. My parents found out I had Sickle Cell Anemia at birth. On top of SCD, I have asthma which makes me more susceptible to developing both pneumonia and bronchitis.

What aspirations did you have when you were a kid, and how did your parents influence your career choice?

My parents were very influential throughout my childhood years on my choice of career because they always wanted the best for me. They advocated my desires of wanting to become a Pediatrician or an RN. Coping with school and my sickle cell was very difficult.  I was always getting sick to the point when in both sixth and tenth grade I had to get home schooled for the rest of both school years, due to getting an infection from having a very low immune system. But I eventually graduated from high school and went on through to college. I completed some college courses to earn my Associate of Arts degree, and also completed my certification in the Police Academy in May of 2003.  Prior to becoming a Law Enforcement Officer I worked at several different jobs to increase my occupational skill set while I was in school.

Wow, you were a cop? Hardcore! How were you able to deal with being a cop and deal with sickle cell?

I will admit it was difficult.  I would find myself in pain basically everyday; mostly with joint pains in my body.  My profession was a very stressful job, I was going through major headaches, weakness in my body, fatigue and sickle cell pain.

That is the first thing I thought of when you said you were a cop. I mean, it’s hard for any warrior dealing with pains and fatigue, and I know that being in law enforcement, you pretty much have to be on your A-game all the time. So what happened?

Well, sickle cell did affect my job performance. I was constantly calling out sick because of pain, or dealing with fatigue. Even with the other jobs that I had prior to law enforcement; I noticed a lot of discrimination during and after the hiring process. I always was upfront about my health issues to my future employers, and some flat out refused to hire me even though I was qualified. What stopped me from working as that I had a massive hemorrhagic stroke that affected my brain in 2005. This effectively stopped me from working, and presently, I’m unemployed and still disabled, trying to recuperate from that stroke.

I’m so sorry to hear about your stroke. How have you been able to manage with your sickle cell since then?

Thankfully I have my mom to support me. She gives me all the help and determination I need to keep me up-to-date on my doctor’s appointments, medications and blood transfusions that I get every three weeks that prevent me from going into a crisis every month. Now that I have suffered from a second  massive stroke, I’m currently unemployed and physically disabled.  It seems like my sickle cell has gotten worse to the point where my body is  dealing with the pain basically everyday. My body is now getting to the point that its too weak to withstand any more pain.  I find myself ending up in the ER or getting admitted in the hospital for a crisis on a regular basis. I usually get treated for the crisis with IV fluids, pain medication, and mostly blood transfusions to help reduce the flare ups in the crisis to bring my H/H up to the normal levels.

It sounds like you have truly  had a difficult time of it. And on top of all that you had a second massive stroke! 🙁 What medications do you take for your sickle cell?

For the pain I take Oxycodone, Morphine, & Ibuprofen.  These give me side effects of nausea/itching so I have to take Benadryl and Phenergen. For pain management in the hospital, I usually get IV Dilaudid while in crises.

However at home, my daily medication regimen is taking Hydroxyurea, Folic acid, Gabapentin, Kepprra, Prilosec OTC, Singular, the Albuterol inhaler, and I sleep with 2 liters of Oxygen at night to also treat my Asthma to help with keeping my saturation level up when sleeping.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to join a profession with sickle cell?

For other people with sickle cell, I would have to say, “Make sure you concentrate more on your schoolwork. Choose a career that is not too stressful or strenuous  for you. Do your research on the profession and make sure it is ideal for your health that your body can tolerate the job requirements without you overexerting yourself.”

Has sickle cell limited areas of your life?

Sickle cell affects people differently. For me, I would say that sickle cell has limited me in many areas of life.  SCD has limited my physical ability to participate in  activities or hobbies in life because my body is not as strong, fast, or athletic as other people. In addition, my asthma further limits my physical capabilities. Since I had the stroke, I can’t live independently on my own or have the children that I’ve always wanted to have. I live with my mom and she helps me to do most things. I can no longer drive or have much of a social life because I’m mostly indoors and I’m often too tired from the pain meds to even want to go out to meet new people or hang out with my friends. I’ve lost my independence, and I’m depending on others to do things for me and take me places. SC has affected my ability to date, be social and have a vibrant life.

So where do you get your inner strength from when you reach an obstacle in life?

Because things can be difficult, it takes a lot of determination, and prayers for me to go for the goal that I want to achieve.  I also have my mom and my family’s support and motivation.

Looking at a 14 year old version of yourself, what would you tell her if you could?

I would say, “Focus on your school work and become an Honors student. Get more involved in the school activities, enjoy your teenage years, hang out more with your classmates and friends.  Focus on trying to build up your immune system so that you won’t  have to be home schooled throughout your high school years.”

I’m sure many teens will heed this advice. It is sound. Is there anything else that you want to share with other sickle cell warriors?

My advice is that we go through many struggles, trials and tribulations in life dealing with our health.  The main thing you should do is to remember God is very good and things happen for a reason, so it  is best not to sulk or hate yourself or your life, when you can be more appreciative and thankful that you’re still alive and have made it through the rough times in life.  Try to focus on making a difference in life to make and help others by educating them on the SCD looking for a cure.  Try your hardest to turn the negative things we go through in life into a positive aspect. Life is too short to take it for granted.

Smile God loves you and so do I 🙂

Wow Theresa, inspiring words indeed. Thank you so much for doing this interview. There are many sickle cell warriors that have had significant trials in their lives and health, and you are a living testimony, that you can get knocked down but still be an Overcomer. I wish you well in all your future endeavors.

Thank you for your time, and God bless.

from the time I was born in North – Miami General Hospital in Miami, Florida.

  1. My parents and I found out I had Sickle cell Anemia from the time I was born and the medical staff ran a numerous amount of test on me to test me for SCD.
  2. My parents was very influential throughout my childhood years on my choice of career because they wanted the best for me on me wanting to become a Pediatrician or an RN.
  3. Right now I am unemployed/ disabled from suffering a massive hemorrhage stroke in the brain in 2005.  I went through some college courses to earn my Associate of Arts degree, but completed my certification in the Police Academy in May of 2003.  Prior to becoming a Law Enforcement Officer I worked at numerous work cites to increase my Occupation Level.
  4. Coping with school and my Sickle cell disease was very difficult.  I was always getting sick to the point when in both sixth-grade and tenth grade I had to get home schooled for the rest of both school years, due to getting an infection from having a very low immune system.

6.  I manage my SCD with my Moms help & determination to keep me up to date on my doctors follow-up visit to treat my illness with both medication and blood transfusions every three weeks to prevent me from going into a Sickle cell crisis every month. Along with treating me for Asthma.  Having both SCD & Asthma I am now more susceptible to developing both Pneumonia & bronchitis.

7.  Prior to being unemployed from suffering a stroke and becoming disabled physically.  I have noticed some discrimination on my hiring process at certain jobs that I’ve applied for because of my health issue of not being able to attend to work regularly when I’m constantly getting sick or fatigued easily.

8.  My advice I would suggest to other people wanting to join my profession with Sickle cell is to make sure you concentrate more on your schoolwork choosing a career that is not too stressful or extranious  for you and is also a profession that is ideal for your health that your body can tolerate without over exurting yourself.

9.  Everyones body is different when living with SCD and how it affects your body in general.  However, for me now I would say that Sickle cell has limited me in many areas of life.  My physical ability to be able to participate in many activities or hobbies in life has hindered me from being able to partcipate in those activities  in order to keep up or have fun in life because my body is not as strong as the others with SCD.  Plus I also have Asthma since the age of twelve, which makes it even harder for me to do a lot of physical activities.

10.  When reaching for the obstacles in life.  It takes a lot of determination, and prayers for me to go for the goal that I want to achieve.  I also have my mom and families support to help along with motivating me.

11.  When I was working before my stroke as a Police officer.  I would find myself in pain basically everyday having joint pains in my body.  My profession was a very stressful job, I was going through major headaches, weakness in my body from the Sickle cell pain causing me to be more fatiqued than usual.

12.  Now that I have suffered from a second  massive stroke, I’m currently unemployed and physically disabled.  It seems like my Sickle cell has gotten worse to the point where my body is  dealing with the pain basically everyday. My body is now getting to the point where its too weak to literally    withold or bear the pain for much longer.  I find myself ending up in the Emergency room hospital getting admitted for SC crisis getting treated for the crisis by getting hydrated by IV fluids, pain medication, and mostly blood transfusions to help reduce the flare ups in the crisis to bring my red blood count up to the normal level.

13.  Unfortunately I take quite a few pain medications to help with my pain, such as Oxycodone, Morphine, & Ibuprofen.  Then I get the side affects of nausea and itching that I also need to take Benadryl&  Phenerghan to help prevent and ease the nausea, and itching.  I  take the Dilaudid pain meds by IV when in the hospital to help treat the crisis as well.

  1. 14. My daily medication regimen is taking Hydroxyurea, Folic acid, Gabapentin, Kepprra, Prilosec OTC, Singular, the albuterol inhalor, and I sleep with 2 liters of Oxygen at night to also treat my Asthma to help with keeping my saturation level up when sleeping.

15. Sickle cell has afftected my life by not actually being able to live independently on my own to have kids that I’ve always wanted to have. The stroke has caused me to move back in to live with my mom while she’s helping to get back up on my feet to live indepedently again.  I can no longer drive or have much of a social life because I’m mostly indoors and I’m often too tired from the pain meds to even want to go out to meet new people or hang out with my friends much.  Im depending on transportation instead of me depending on myself to do what I want to do in life.  I am not in a relationship because I haven’t gone anywhere to meet anyone as of yet or I haven’t met the right one.

16.  Looking at the 14 year old version of myself I would tell them how I would have like to turn back the hands of time of focusing more on my school work to become a honors student. Get more involved in the school activities to enjoy my teenage years of hanging out with some of the classmates friends.  Focus on trying to build up your immune system so that you won’t  have to be home schooled throughout your high school years.  And being SCD free throughout my life to live a normal healthy life as a teenager trying to succeed.

17.  My suggestion or advice that I would like to tell the other sickle cell warriors is although we’ve gone through many struggles, trials and tribulations in life dealing with our health.  The main thing you should do is to remember God is very good and things happen for a reason , so it  is best not to sulk or hate yourself on life, when you can be more appreciative and thankful that your still alive and have made it through the rough times in life.  Try to focus on making a difference in life to make and help others by educating them on the SCD looking for a cure.  Try your hardest to turn the negative things we go through in life into a positive aspect.    Life is too short to take it for granted.

Thank you for your time, and God bless.  I hope to hear back from you all soon.

Sincerely,

Theresa Robinson! Smile God loves you and so do I 🙂

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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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3 Comments

  1. Nutty
    Nutty June 08, 01:27

    I like her strength in the face of these trying times. It speaks of a strength that comes from character.

    It is well with you Theresa. You have a God that you believe strongly in and that is enough. It is enough that Jesus died for you.

    You are a strong woman.

  2. Tonya Bright
    Tonya Bright June 10, 10:13

    She is a truly inspirational individual. keep smiling and helping others with your lifes testimony.

  3. CoolBabe
    CoolBabe November 14, 20:58

    I just read your testimony here Theresa.It was a pleasure to know that you are strong woman who overcome those challenges you’ve experienced especially the illness you over pass.I am a daughter who’s mom has mild stroke.All I do now is to help my mom and I hope and pray she will be fine pretty soon.Her right hand cannot write so I will do my best to help her and support her all the time with love and care.

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