I’m dedicating this day to my 15years old friend. Today, I want to remind you how strong you are. You’re a Conqueror.
There’s something spectacular about today. I already spoke to her mum this morning. It’s her story, she gave me permission to share it.
She’s going to be reading your comments. So do well to drop encouraging words.
Mrs J was a fresh secondary graduate when she first met her husband. She was 18years. They got married a year after. For her, it was love at first sight. He was her First and last. She said she didn’t understand exactly what Marriage was about, but she was certain it was the right thing for her.
In her words: “I was naive, but not stupid. He was priceless, his love was so sweet to be real, he was forgiving, loving, understanding, trustworthy, kind, caring. He was to me, what I read in books!”
“But what was his job?” I tried to interrupt
“He was a corper then, but now a secondary Teacher”. She said.
We got married and we had seven ( 7) children. 5 boys, 2 girls. She is the last (pointing at her daughter lying down in the bed) and…and…and…
And what? Madam? Are you crying? I understand perfectly whatever it is you’re passing through. Trust me. At this point, I Offered her a white handkerchief and waited for her to be done before we continue.
Deep in my heart, I wished it wasn’t what I was thinking. Could it be this …no, no…no. I rebuked it.
It wasn’t even what I thought. ..it was worse.
Let’s talk about her Daughter…
It was one of those busy school days, I met her in the ward. Beautiful young girl. But mare looking at her was heartbreaking for me.
Hello, how are you?
Something wasn’t right. But I needed to be certain.
“I’m fine. Thank you.” She said
I’m Ola. Can you see me? I asked
“No”. I can’t. I’m. …..B…Blind.
She told me she has been blind for 5years now.
It was so much for me to bear. We are always taught to be empathetic but not sympathetic. I didn’t understand why I felt that way. But I know why…let me tell you. I won’t talk about that now.
The striking thing about her was her Gait. The way she walked when I sighted her earlier that day. And this was the reason I came. I had no idea there was something more….or even worse. No idea she was blind.
“Isn’t this Hemiplegic gait?” I asked my friend. I was confused. This girl is certainly not more than 15years old. Stroke? At this age?? No
This was my first time of seeing a very young Stroke patient. I just felt life was unfair to her. But I still needed to be sure
She could barely walk, so her mother was trying to support her. It wasn’t an appealing sight for me. I could feel the pain in her mother’s eyes, the regrets, the agony. Yet she tried to be strong.
So from this day, she became my friend. I visited her almost every day in the ward, no matter how stressful my day was.
So back to Mrs J. This is my last child and the only surviving child. She burst in tears.
At this point, I lost my cool. I lost my strength. I couldn’t hold it. Tears rolled uncontrollably from my eyes. Holding her hands reassuringly…saying to her, it shall be well with you. You will overcome all these, God knows why all these are happening. We can’t question God, even though I wish we could.
So what killed them and why is your daughter here?” I tried asking…
She is A sickler. The ones that died were all sicklers. She had a stroke 5 years ago and later became Blind. That’s why she’s like this. This little girl has suffered so much because of my ignorance. I wish all this happened to me and not her!
I was speechless. I couldn’t even express how I felt, even this moment I still can’t. Please what is more painful? I’m asking you this because I don’t think I know.
But somehow, I still managed to express myself.
Are your Genotype and your husband’s “AS”? I asked.
“Yes. And we didn’t know till after my third child’s death”. She said
So what happened afterwards I tried to enquire.
Nothing. The Doctor told us. We started giving the other remaining 4 children Folic acid. We tried, and visited hospitals…they gave us options which were too expensive for us. We relied on God for a miracle, which never happened.
So they kept dying and now I’m left with just this one. I’m 42years old, I can still conceive but my husband and I have decided no more, I’m currently on family planning. We can’t continue to bear these pains.
I wish I knew all these before I got married. I wouldn’t have.” She was in pains, lamenting, blaming herself for all these. So I couldn’t let her continue. I already hit the points…
SICKLE CELL ANEMIA
It is an inherited blood disorder in which the red blood cells assume a “Sickled” shape as against their normal Biconcave morphology, this makes them easily prone to destruction and the normal life span of a red blood cell which is 120days is drastically reduced to 10-20days. This is the reason for the Anemia
Morbidity, frequency of crisis, degree of anaemia, and the organ systems involved vary considerably from individual to individual.
For one to be A Sickle cell patient, he must have inherited the defective gene from both parents. So mother and Father must be “AS”
Nature determines which offspring inherits this. For every pregnancy, the chances of having an ‘SS’ is 25%. So it is possible to have all children SS, it is also possible to have all AS or even AA. I’ve seen all these varieties. In some, it is a mixture of these.
Screening for HbS at birth is currently mandatory in some countries like the United States. For the first 6 months of life, infants are protected largely by elevated levels of Fetal Hemoglobin, Hb F. So a child less than 6months will not manifest with features. Sickle cell anaemia usually manifests early in childhood, the condition becomes evident, as follows:
- Yellowish discolouration of the eyes (jaundice)
- Hand and foot swelling( dactylitis)
- Frontal bossing
- Asthenic built
- Bone pains
- Delayed growth, etc
The complications of these are endless. It cuts across all systems in the body.
- Chronic pains
- Kidney problems
- Poor wound healing
- Bone infections
- Heart failure
- Organ enlargement like Liver, spleen
- Recurrent chest infections
- Social stigma, Depression,
- All the complications from anaemia
However, with adequate care, most live their normal lives with reduced hospital visits. I know a Doctor who is Above 70 and is an SCD patient.
WHEN You hear “PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE”, this is where it’s best applied. It should be prevented by all possible means.
The first step towards that is to know your genotype and that of every member of your family. If you’re “AA”, Lucky you. Lol. Hotcake
But if You’re AS or SS still fine. You just have to always thread with caution. “I Love you, I can’t live without you”, na for person wey never born SS o.
For all “AS & SS”, your first date with anyone you MUST ASK THEIR GENOTYPE. You can only marry an ‘AA’ And it doesn’t end there. Before you consider getting married to anyone, you both must go to a good hospital to confirm your genotypes, at least 2 different hospitals. I’ve heard of partners that lied, just to stay married. What a shame!
It is traumatizing. You can’t even imagine the constant pain your child will be on because of your careless mistake or even losing your children. It destroys homes. Do you see that Love? It will vanish
I’ve seen couples separate because of this. Don’t let anyone deceive you. Truth there is a lot of advancement especially in the Prevention of SS, but it is not readily affordable and available. How many couples can spend millions just to find out if the fetus is “SS” or not; and if “SS”, abort it? Even if the money is there, your Faith may not permit that.
However, if you are a Sickle cell patient or you know one who is, please the Importance of regular medical check-up can never be overemphasised. As soon as they are diagnosed, their hospital visits should be regular. Most complications can be prevented. In addition, the following must be observed in order to prevent Crises:
- Good Hydration: The person must stay hydrated at least 3 litres of water every day.
- Avoid extreme temperatures. Not so cold, not so hot.
- Good nutrition.
- Avoid strenuous activities/stress
- Avoid alcohol and cigarettes
- Take their routine drugs (Folic acid, Hydroxyurea, antimalaria etc)
- Vaccination against Hepatitis B virus(because of the frequent blood transfusion); Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine because they’re prone to encapsulated organisms.
With these, they can live a normal life, devoid of crises and pains, or at least reduced to its minimum. However, they must “Make their Doctor, their friend”
Today, June 19, is World Sickle Cell Awareness Day.
Over 400, O00 babies are born each year with Sickle cell disease. We can help reduce this, by creating awareness.
To all the SCD patients; ” don’t ever let the pains destroy you, grow stronger from the pains”. You shall win this fight.
I am hoping to Raise Money, create awareness and lend my support to Sickle Cell Disease Patients in the nearest future. However, in my own little way…I hope this helps.