I’ve been getting alot of questions regarding this lately, I guess because it’s the season of love and new relationships. To respond to this question, you have to remember that people with sickle cell are people first. This means that just because we have a chronic medical condition doesn’t mean that we sprout wings and fly around the place. We are not abnormal creatures, we are people, just like you. We have emotions, feelings, dreams, hopes and desires. We want to be in a a good relationship with someone that loves us and treats us well. This applies to every human, and just because we have sickle cell does not exclude one from this paradigm.
I will acknowledge that dating and being in a relationship with someone that has a complex medical condition can be challenging, but it is DOABLE. Many people with sickle cell have the most loving and beautiful relationships that I have ever seen. The greatest advice that I can give you is to educate yourself on sickle cell as much as you can before you tie yourself to a sickle cell warrior. This way, you have a general idea of what you are stepping into before one gets too involved.
In addition, know your phenotype. You can get tested at your doctor’s office, and know what your phenotype is. If you are AA, then you have no chance of passing on the sickle cell disease if you do have a child with someone that has sickle cell disease. Your offspring will have the trait however, and must be properly educated on how to avoid passing the disease on to your grandchildren.
However, if you are AS, then more deliberation is needed. This means that you are a carrier of the trait of sickle cell, and that you have the potential to pass the full blown disease on to your children if you mate with a sickle cell warrior (SS). There is a 50% chance with EVERY pregnancy that you can pass the disease on. So you have to be more cautious, prayerful and knowledgeable about this condition if this is the case.
I know many people with sickle cell that have children that do not have sickle cell disease. And I know many people with sickle cell that have children with sickle cell disease. So the chances can be either way, and if you are serious about being in a relationship with this person, then you have to be aware of the chances.
Another issue is that due to the chronicity of the condition, people with sickle cell do have emotional upheavals. I recently was hospitalized for 9 days, and when I got discharged, I was an emotional wreck, and nothing like myself. It took about 2 weeks to feel emotionally ‘normal’ again, and this has the potential to happen often. There is also an element of depression that might exist, and unexplained anger. It can be an emotional rollercoaster, and not everyone is up to the challenge.
You might have to take on the responsibilities of the household when the sickle cell warrior is ill, and may have to shoulder majority of the burdens at times. You might have to assume the caregiver role, as well as being a bulwark of support and patient advocate. You might have to be the trailblazer searching for new treatment methods, or nagging your loved one to take their meds. You might have to pack an extra sweater just in case, or suffer through heat because your loved one is cold.
I will always maintain that it takes a very special person to be able to love and adore a sickle cell warrior irrespective of that condition. To me, it just means that when you find the right person, nothing can shake that love. And that is really what everyone is searching for.