Sickle Cell Medication & Drugs


I hate taking pills. I absolutely detest them. I can take them one by one, swallow them whole, but nothing gives me an enjoyment in the process. Taking pills just reminds me that I’m sick. When I’m being honest, I must say that I really don’t take meds unless I’m in pain.

When it comes to pain, that is one thing I find very hard to deal with. I”m all for non-pharmacological modes of treating sickle cell, but when I’m in the middle of an L3 or greater, pass me the drugs baby.

So, in no real order, here are all the drugs I’ve taken in the last decade or so.

  • Folic Acid: This is a vitamin that I’ve been taking since I started my period. It’s for the increased production of red blood cells and hemoglobin and should be taken daily. Now do I take it daily? Ummm, no. Of all the pills, this is by far the easiest to take–small, yellow with no aftertaste.
  • Motrin: It’s a larger pill—my dose is now up to 800mg per pill. It’s a non steroid anti inflammatory drug (NSAID) which means that it helps reducing pain caused by swelling but has no steroids. Motrin kicks ass for L2s and used in conjunction with an opioid manages to wreck havoc on an L3 as well.
  • Vicodin/Lortab/Norco: Same family, different doses. All three are composites of a Hydrocodone/Tylenol mix, and the strength depends on the dosage. The more codeine in it, the stronger the effect. I take these only for L3s. Apparently they are easy to get addicted to.
  • Demerol: Holy mother! Who created this shizz? Demorol is absolutely insane, total poison that totally works. It blocks the pain receptors so completely that you don’t even know that you are having pain. It gives an euphoric high. For me, it makes me delirious and giddily happy, some weird concoction. It’s so strong that the FDA banned it for long term pain management, because it has been known to crystallize and cause granulation of the vein. In normal speak, it turns into crystal glass and the residue stays in the your veins and makes them hard as rock. That in itself has alot of complications so most docs want to stay away from Demerol for sickle cell peeps. I used to get Demerol back in the late 90s and I still have a wonky vein that’s hard in my right hand. You have to have a doc that is trained in the old school to get this prescribed nowadays. It comes with a slew of side effects, nausea, vomiting, delirium, itching, you name it.
  • Dilaudid: This is the master of all pain drugs. Dilaudid is from the morphine family and is available in pill form as well as IV. It’s not mixed with anything else, and really does work for me. I usually take 4mg. The only drawback is that I get serious side effects of anything from the Morphine family (itching!) It gets so bad that I want to scratch my skin off. So the counterbalance of the itching is~
  • Benadryl: This stops the itching but has a side effect of knocking me the fuck out. I’m woozy, I’m delirious, I’m talking out of my head and spouting all kinds of nonsense. This helps though, because by the time I wake up, an L4 would have dropped to an L3 and hopefully I don’t have to go to the hospital.

Okay, there are more out there, but these are the ones that I personally take. I will get on the soap box about Hydroxyurea but that is for a whole ‘nother chapter.


  1. Hey,I have a 2yrs 9 months baby girl and a 9 year old boy who have sickle anemia. I have not started them on any medication except folic acid. Its because I don’t know were to go for help or were to start from. Please advice me. And ooh am from Uganda .thanks


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