This week’s warrior is Ronke, a lawyer from Nigeria. She has such a spunky, feisty and fabulous attitude, and sees the glass half full and close to overflowing; even with sickle cell. Read on to get inspired by Ronke.
Hey Ronke, welcome to the forum. I’m so glad you decided to do this interview. Before we get into it; how old where you when you found out you had sickle cell? I think I was 3 or 4 when my parents found out that I had SCD. This was after about 4 tests. The first test was an error, and it told my parents that I was AS.
How were you able to cope with school and sickle cell? Pretty much, I didn’t really have a choice— I had to do well. Sickle cell didn’t even factor in the list of considerations for my education. I just toughed it out and got on with it.
How did your childhood and your parents influence you in your choice of career? I was never overly indulged in anyway. I didn’t even know sickle cell was an excuse to not do certain things. I was raised by a no-nonsense mother who did not believe that anything was an excuse not to do house chores or go to school, or generally learn how to fend for or take care of yourself and your household when the time came. I am the first child, so my upbringing was even tougher than that of my non-SS siblings. My parents always told me I could be whoever and do whatever I wanted. I was pushed harder than my siblings and I was made to understand that the only thing that could stand in the way of my
achievements and success was myself.
What do you do? What kind of experience and schooling does one need to get your job? I’m a Lawyer. Well, I have a Bachelor’s degree in Law (LLb) and a Masters of Laws (LLM) in Commercial Law: both from the UK and a BL from the Nigerian Law School. To start practicing as a lawyer; you need to have a Bachelor’s degree and go to Law school.
So what are you up to right now? Right now, I’m “serving” the nation. I’m doing my National Youth Service, it is a mandatory 1 year service to the country that everyone must do after college, before you can get a job. It is tough but not as tough as one would think. A typical day means getting to work by 8, and working an 8-hour day. I go to a lot of meetings and my spare time is used to set up my own law firm and business. So I’m pretty much on the go from dawn to dusk.
How do you manage SCD and still maintain a thriving career? I have God and a great family support system. I try to look after myself as best as I can. Take my drugs often, stay hydrated, take breaks when feel the need to. I know I’m not wired to function the way non-SS people function, so I try not to take on too much to the point of exhaustion and break down. If I find myself in situations that endanger me, I speak up. Those little things have helped make my life more comfortable.
Have you noticed a difference in how your coworkers treat you once they know you have SCD? Well, they veer between being sympathetic and understanding to pitying me, though I draw the line at pity because I feel I’m not to be pitied but envied. I know the value of life and when I have the good health to do it, i enjoy life and I don’t take things for granted.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to join your profession that has sickle cell? You have to be extremely determined. It is a lot of stress to study to pass the bar exams particularly in Nigeria. The system is designed to really stress you out. So you really have to keep your eyes on the prize through all the stress and rigors. Keep in mind the stress involved, take your meds, don’t overdo things and pray a lot.
Has sickle cell limited any areas of your life? The only limitation that I can see right now is in my love life…lol but I’m ever the optimist 😀 I just got broken up with because my ex had issues with the sickle cell, but still I remain hopeful that I will find true love and the right man for me.
When you do reach obstacles in your life, what helps you through it? God, prayers, a strong family support system, great friends, a lot of confidence and belief in yourself.
Do you have regular pain (more than 2x a week)? How do you cope with this when you are working? No I don’t, to the glory of God. But when I do get pains at work, I inform my co-workers. [stextbox id=”custom”]I’m not ashamed of my condition. It is better to speak up than suffer in silence to your own detriment. People are sympathetic and willing to help or let you do what is needful when they are informed.[/stextbox]
What is your daily medication regimen and what medications do you take when you are in pain? Folic acid and B-complex when I remember to take it. Started on some new remedy called Tahitian Noni at the insistence of my mum. Let’s see how that goes. Extreme pain involves hospitalization for me. I’ve been given Morphine once but I’m normally on heavy doses of Tramadol.
Looking at the 14 year old version of yourself, what would you tell him or her if you could…? Don’t worry about a thing. You will grow up to become a fabulous 27 year old temptress. Emphasis on Fabulous!!! Lol!
Is there anything else that you would want to tell other sickle cell warriors? [stextbox id=”custom”]God loves us. We are here for a reason and when you still have life, make the most of it. Sitting around, throwing pity parties for ourselves and blaming God is not the way to go. We have the same chances and opportunities as others to live life. Take opportunities, take chances, love a lot, laugh even more, go and get those dreams and make things happen. It is only a hindrance if you let it be one and I don’t. One for me, zero for sickle cell!!![/stextbox]
Thank you for doing this interview Ronke. Good luck and much success in your life and in your future.