It would be really unfair for me to compare ones pain with mine but honestly, I don’t think there’s any pain that surpasses that of a Sickle Cell Crisis. I remember when I was a kid, I used to have frequent episodes of pain. I did not know much about sickle cell then but I knew I was different. I was treated differently. I did not understand why I wasn’t allowed to run around like every other kid. Why I wasn’t allowed to play as much. I missed school a lot too. I wasn’t allowed to do strenuous activities like my siblings. I just knew I had sickle cell, but why was I being treated differently! It was just a disease like any other right? Wrong!
Sickle Cell Disease is a blood disorder that is passed from a parent to a child. The red blood cells of a person with sickle cell have a curved crescent like shape or sickle shape. Due to their shape, the cells clump together and become stiff hence making them stick on the walls of blood vessels blocking the flow of blood to the body. This in turn causes what we call a crisis. A crisis occurs when there is little or no supply of oxygen to the body’s tissue and organs.
During a crisis one experiences sharp pangs of pain tearing into the body. The pain is sometimes so severe and feels like every bone in your body is being crushed. A much severe episode of pain can even make you beg for death itself. Honestly.
Apart from the severe pain, patients with Sickle Cell can develop certain complications due to the disease and one of them being anemia. Anemia occurs when the red blood cell count in the body drops to very low levels and can be life threatening if not treated with a blood transfusion.
Most times it never crosses anyone’s mind that they will need blood transfusion at any point in their life. It didn’t cross mine either, even though I have sickle cell disease I’ve been lucky to not undergo blood transfusion unlike so many other Sickle Cell warriors until a recent experience. The worst I’ve had so far. It was a life changing experience.
I remember this day when I was woken up by an excruciating pain on my lower back at around two in the morning. The pain spread so fast all over my body and it felt like I was being stabbed several times in my joints. It was unbearable, staying still wasn’t possible and any movement made it even worse. I was breathing with difficulty. I was wailing and crying like a little child.
I was in the village at the time, and no hospitals in most villages in my country are open at that time. Considering we also didn’t have any personal means of transport, we just had to wait for morning to come. I felt like I wasn’t going to make it till then. The pain was uncontrollable. The painkillers I had taken weren’t working. I wanted to give up. Have you ever been in so much pain that you ask God to help you get it over with once and for all? No? Well I did.
I yearned for anything, anything at all that could save me from the agony. Just then I noticed something, the faces that were surrounding me, my family. They were trying everything they could to reduce my pain. Massaging me with clothes dipped in hot water to try to keep me warm. Warmth helps a bit. The pain in their eyes was even worse than what I was feeling. I had to fight, if not for me, at least for them, they gave me a reason not to give up, I fought, I asked God to ignore my prior request. I prayed for strength instead.
When morning came, I was so weak and I couldn’t even talk. I was rushed to the nearest hospital and given an injection that still did not work. We opted for another hospital that is 15 miles from home. Until today, I cannot really tell how I survived that kind of pain for more than 6 hours on straight. I felt so tired, my heart was beating rapidly and I was straining to breath. I looked at my hands and they were pale white.
My situation was getting worse by the minute and the doctors were not giving my case the urgency it needed. They took a sample of my blood for tests and I was given a morphine injection that killed the pain almost instantly but still we had to wait for the test results. The blood test was to find out my blood level and to determine whether the crisis was as a result of an infection in my body i.e malaria. After almost two hours of waiting, the Lab results were out and it shocked the doctors. My blood level was so low and they were surprised I was still breathing.
I needed a blood transfusion as soon as yesterday but there was a problem; the facility did not have blood. Sadly, the doctors told us there was nothing they could do because no other hospital around had blood. I honestly knew that was it, I was face to face with death, rubbing shoulders and no one was putting in enough effort to save my life apart from my mum who was pleading with them to do something. That’s all I can remember, I passed out.
I woke up several hours later and I realized blood was being transfused into my body. I later came to learn that my aunt who is also a nurse pleaded with some hospital to be given blood. What’s more heartbreaking is the fact that she had to literally beg for blood to save a life. Here’s is someone who is on the verge of death but the other hospital didn’t want to give blood with an excuse of “we have little in our blood bank”. Is that even acceptable? I am digressing. All in all, the two pints she was given (even though i needed more) saved my life.
Everyone had given up on me, they were waiting to be told I was no more. God had other plans and I am so very grateful for that, I faced death but I battled and became a victor. I am always grateful to my aunt, I am so much grateful to the people who donated the blood running through my veins and most importantly I am grateful to God, they all saved my life; And for my mum, for always being there, understanding and for supporting me.
It is unfortunate how doctors sometimes do not give patients the attention they need. Most people die due to lack of blood and probably their lives could’ve been saved if only hospitals had enough resources.
I know it’s sometimes scary to undergo the donation process but always think of how many lives your blood is going to save. That alone is enough motivation to make that move. Apart from people with sickle cell anemia, so many other patients may require blood. For example people living with cancer, expectant women, accident victims,e.t.c. and yours will give them hope for life. Take some few minutes from your time and donate blood today. Save someone’s life, you never know, it could be yours.