I’m Atinuke Jose. I live in Lagos, Nigeria and have followed your blog for several years now. I do have SCD and have learned over the years that it has changed my view about life and how I approach it. I have answered your questions as directed and hope that it’s inspiring enough to get selected.
Hello Atinuke! It’s so nice to *meet* you! How old where you when you found out you had sickle cell? I was very young….I don’t recall my age but I remember sitting with my mom in the hospital and she holding me very tight.
How were you able to cope with school and sickle cell? School was a challenge when I was younger because I was always ill and missed long amounts of classes. My mom was great! She would always make sure I went to school after my crises subsided. It helped me build my strength and I was able to learn how to manage through the pain. I was also fortunate to have fantastic friends in college who understood my situation so I coped well.
Mothers are the best. How did your childhood and your parents influence you in your choice of career? I always wanted to study Law (and still do) but ended up in Public Relations. I didn’t believe in myself enough to think I could complete a law degree due to the stress but now, after all I’ve been through so far, I regret not doing so.
What do you do and what kind of experience and schooling does one need to get your job? I work in Strategy & Project Management for an Insurance company. I started as a Public Relations executive but transferred because I wanted a more challenging environment and Project Management came easy for me. Someone looking to do strategy and project management should have a background in Finance and a project management certificate.
How do you manage SCD and still maintain a thriving career? I won’t lie; every day is a challenge. My bosses are very understanding and my colleagues have learned to look out for me. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized the power of REST. I make sure I drink lots of water, take my daily medications and vitamins and go to the hospital after work if I need strong pain medicine. I’m learning to live within the limits of my strength.
Have you noticed a difference in how your coworkers treat you once they know you have SCD? YES! They always ask how I’m feeling instead of “how are you”. They do come around later on though.
Has sickle cell limited any areas of your life? Yes! I can’t do things like normal people. I live in Nigeria and there are mosquitoes so I am very careful when I go places at night. I sleep with a treated net and have to fleet [use bugspray] often. I wear sweaters year round, I don’t drink cold water or bathe in cold water…….the list goes on and on. I’m in my mid-thirties and I analyze every social situation I am in because I may end up suffering for it the night after or the next day.
When you do reach obstacles in your life, what helps you through it? Willpower! I’ve had 2 near death experiences and many more complications in my life and all I can say is that I wasn’t ready to give up on myself. I believe in myself and I knew that sometime or another, I’d get out of that situation.
Do you have regular pain (more than 2x a week)? How do you cope with this when you are working? I do have pain often. I didn’t for a while but this year has been quite different. I make sure I try and sleep well and take lots of water. For the severe pain, I make sure I go to the hospital for injections after work. I take it day by day. I’ve realized that planning ahead with my health doesn’t work out.
What is your daily medication regimen and what medications do you take when you are in pain? Because of the GI effects of the medicines, I take them at night. Vitamin C, Folic Acid, B12, Paludrine (to prevent malaria) and fish oil. For pain (which I take any time of the day) I have a small box with almost everything I need which I carry around. Depending on the type of pain I have and severity, I take any and some of the following: Diclofenac, Tramadol, Panadol Ultra with Codeine, DF118 and Amitriptyline (for migraines). I suffer from Ulcer pains as well so I carry around Omeprazole tablets.
How has sickle cell affected your personal life? For example, are you in a relationship, do you have kids, etc. I’m single and fabulous! Of course Sickle Cell has affected my personal life. I am very cautious with people and am not as accessible and/or social as people would like so friends end up getting tired of my numerous excuses as to why I can’t come out with them or why I’m ill AGAIN.
Looking at the 14 year old version of yourself, what would you tell him or her if you could…? I would tell her that she can do whatever she sets her mind to and that she should ignore the naysayers and bullies. Being different is NOT a curse and she shouldn’t hide it.
Is there anything else that you would want to tell other sickle cell warriors? Dear Warriors! We are unique, we are special and we were born to inspire others. Stay strong and keep one being motivated.