Going to School with Sickle Cell

One thing that I’ve learned with having this ailment is that I can’t let it scare me or change anything about the way I want to live my life. I’m very determined and want to achieve all my dreams, goals and aspirations. I won’t let anything stop me from attaining my full potential—and schooling was always on my list for something that was important.

There are alot of resources especially in the US for people going to school with a disease. Guess what—you are qualified as a handicapped person with sickle cell. This means that your school, teachers, administration and classmates can’t discriminate on you based on your illness. Also, they can’t flunk you out based on it–in fact, they are supposed to help you achieve your goals.

Now I’m not saying sit back and waltz through school without lifting a finger—hells no! But certain rules and expectations can be bent for you, as long as you have a documented medical history. The first thing you need to do is register with the Health Department at your school. This is that little building around the clinic where no one ever goes to unless they need condoms.

They are supposed to cover assistance for handicapped students. You let them know you have SCD, provide your doctor’s statement and register for the service. When you fall sick, some schools have it that you can just call the Health Department and they will provide you with excuse slips or contact your teachers.

In addition, you have got to be proactive and stay on top of things. I know that I fall sick every 3-4 months like clockwork, so my homework is always done in advance, I read the syllabus and start drafts on all my papers while I’m healthy so that I have less to stress about when I’m sick. My friends also brought my assignments to me in the hospital and I was hooked up to painkillers and IV fluids studying for tests and completing homework.

It takes alot of guts and determination to keep ahead but you know that you have that cushion for when you do fall sick. And it’s good student practice anyway.

Remember, you don’t want a pity party thrown on your behalf. But if all you need are few extra days to finish a paper that you weren’t able to get to, because you were sick and in the hospital, then by all means, go ahead and let your teachers know. Most people are sympathetic and will get on board with helping you out.

Another perk is that you are probably eligible for a bunch of scholarships that “healthy” people don’t get. You can apply for all those Blood Disorder, Cancer, Sickle Cell and Handicapped scholarship. Plus your life story is a built in statement of purpose and might make you nail that scholarship:)

So go ahead—register, go to school and get that degree. I’ve known people with sickle cell becoming nurses, doctors, lawyers, engineers and bankers. You can do it, the sky is truly the limit, set your goals and achieve them. The only thing stopping you is yourself. Stop being a roadblock to your success and your future.


Tosin Ola

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