So what is sickle cell disease you may ask?
It’s an inherited disorder that affects the red blood cells. You see they become sickle shaped, causing anemia, pain, and many other health issues.
This day is important to me because I have sickle cell trait. I’ve always known thanks to the health screening they did at birth. However, there are others who aren’t aware. Whether because they weren’t screen or their parents didn’t pass on the information, etc. When I joined the military, they also did a screening and gave me the option of getting out because I had a higher risk of dying to do extreme exercise conditions. I chose to remain in the Air Force, but had to carry a slip of paper around saying I had the trait, in case I passed out from dehydration or exercise.
I was always cautioned to be sure that I didn’t marry another person who had the disease because I could pass it on to my kids. Fortunately, the man I fell in love with didn’t have the trait or disease. What we didn’t realize was he had the hemoglobin c trait.
You see, there are other hemoglobin traits that one can be a carrier of that formed with the sickle cell trait (or hemoglobin s trait) can cause problems just as if they had the full blown disease.
One of my sons has the hemoglobin c trait. The other has hemoglobin sc also identified by health professionals as sickle cell. They treat him the same way they would treat a person with sickle cell disease (hemoglobin ss). He has to be on antibiotics until he turns 5 (he’s been on them since he was 6 months old.) He can’t go outside and play in temperatures below 40 or higher than 90. I can’t put an ice pack on him if he hurts himself because this can cause a pain crisis. There are many things I have to be aware of, but my number one goal is to let him enjoy being a little boy.
When he was 21 months old, he had a spleen crisis. His red blood cells got trapped in his spleen and it enlarged. He was in tremendous pain and spent four days in ICU. He had to have blood transfusion (thank you to all who donate!). It was horrible to see my child in such pain. I felt useless. Thankfully, I could pray and be there for him.
So I wrote this blog to share my story, but also to ask that you educate yourself. You never know if you may get to know a person who suffers from the effects of sickle cell. If you want further information please go to Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc. (SCDAA) for further information.