COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SICKLE CELL ANAEMIA
There are certain misconceptions about Sickle Cell Disease and people living with Sickle Cell Disease. These misconceptions should not be mistaken for the myths about SCD. I will try as much as possible to list and explain some of them.
THE AGE MISCONCEPTION
Many people are of the view that when you get to a certain age as a person living with Sickle Cell, you will stop having pain crisis.
Dear readers, this is not true. Most of the people that have lived with this disease and are adults have learned how to manage themselves and avoid factors that may trigger off crisis. Also, they have learned how to endure and maybe ignore the pain that goes through their bodies often. Because of this, people think that at a certain age in a Warrior’s life, (of course, they are!) he/she will automatically outgrow crisis.
It is unfortunate that some of the warriors have erroneously believed this concept of age that they neglect their health and, am sorry to say, have paid with their life. Sometimes, you hear of a Warrior who has just finished School (University) and she/he is looking for work or already working and the next thing you hear is that s/he just dropped dead.
Please if you are a health care provider, parents, siblings, relations, friends and well-wishers of a person living with sickle cell show them love by often asking them about the state of their health in a loving tone. Believe me, some of them often tend to forget that they have health challenges and just carry on as if “nothing dey happen”.
SICKLE CELL AFFECTS ONLY BLACK PEOPLE
I used to have this misconception, but not anymore. Sickle Cell is not a black man’s disease. Agreed, majority of people living with sickle cell disease are people of African descent. But there are a number of other nationalities that have people living with sickle cell disease. These include the Caribbeans, Brazilians, Asians, Greeks etc. So, I will advise that we correct the notion that Sickle Cell disease is the Blackman’s disease.
THERE IS NO CURE FOR SICKLE CELL DISEASE
There is a cure for Sickle Cell disease and that is the Bone Marrow Transplant. The Bone marrow transplant is the only known cure for sickle cell disease. Though the difficulty in this is that you have to find a matching donor and that could be placed in a probability of 1 in 1000. But it is sometimes easier to search for a match in one’s siblings. That is the sibling of a Sickle cell person may have the same bone marrow type.
Apart from the bone marrow transplant, sickle cell is a disease that can be well managed and the person living with it can have a normal and fulfilled life. All it takes is for the person, to avoid the factors that normally trigger off crisis. Those who have successfully managed this disease have been known to live well past their 60th birthday and above.
THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM
From the term above, you will understand that I am talking about that confusion you have as a parent/caregiver of sickle cell person that looks completely healthy, very active, and suddenly relapses into crisis.
You hear things like, “ahhahh! But this child has been playing all day with his friends; she/he even participated in the end of year school activity in their school and danced with other children”; “but she/he has not had crisis for some time now, I didn’t take it serious when s/he complained about feeling a little feverish” and other such comments.
Mummy, daddy, uncle and aunty, please the time that child needs to be carefully watched over is when she/he is hyper-active.
Believe me, exhaustion or even dehydration can lead to a sudden and unexpected attack. Also remember that your child, like any other child, will always want to do what others are doing.
I am not asking you to choke him/her to death with care/ or to cage him/her. But be watchful when they are at play. By now most people who have been around people living with Sickle cell should know that most of them are naturally very stubborn, and cannot easily be caged.
PEOPLE LIVING WITH SICKLE CELL ARE LAZY
Some people have persisted in this misconception (including my younger sister). Sometimes, you hear them say “kai! this boy/girl, you are very lazy, you don’t like helping out with house chores”.
They may not be physically built like others, but they detest staying idle and lazying about (I can speak for someone I know and other warriors I have interacted with).
The only thing is that they know their limit and would try not to push it.
When it comes to using their mental strength, Warriors have been known to thrive and excel above most of their contemporaries. ( I am speaking from experience, its reality!!!).
PEOPLE LIVING WITH SCD ARE IMMUNE TO MALARIA ATTACK
Those that still think Sickle Cell people don’t have malaria, please be advised that malaria attack is among the top killers of children and adults who are living with sickle cell disease. I have seen some really bright and intelligent individuals who think that because they read it somewhere and because I am not in the medical field, I shouldn’t try to mislead the public.
Again, MALARIA IS A KILLER FOR PERSON’s LIVING WITH SCD
PEOPLE LIVING WITH SCD ARE FRAGILE BEINGS AND THEY SHOULD BE SHIELDED AT ALL COST
Yeah, I understand how difficult it is for parents and siblings and other loved ones of Warriors. But I don’t think they actually need to be protected at all cost. I encourage parents of Warriors to do the best they can for their children. But don’t try to live his/her life for him/her. Let them move around and mingle with the society, and find their own niche in the society. Warriors are stronger than many people think.