Y O L O

In the past 9 months I’ve done a whole lot of travelling; 6 different countries to be exact. That’s probably no big deal for any other individual, but it may sound slightly extreme for someone who is living with sickle cell. It has taken me years to be able to travel this much without risk and without fear; but believe me I have taken many L’s in the process.

Everyone wants to go on that ‘girls trip’ or ‘guys trip’ and I was no different, but I had to make the decision to miss out on many of these since sickle cell was not my best friend throughout my teenage years and early twenties. I missed countless girl’s trips and family holidays and lost out on everlasting memories as well as a lot of money. It sounds unbelievable when I think about it now. But I can say that I have always, sometimes reluctantly, put my health first when it comes to making travel plans.

The reason I am sharing this is not to gloat, but actually because of a comment that was made by a random person on my return from a recent holiday, which has since stuck with me. I assume they felt the need to make a comment since I had requested special assistance so I was in a wheel chair, and mobility aids such a crutches or wheelchairs seem to be an open invitation for people to pre judge.

“Risked it for a few days of fun yeh?”

Listen, some people may not know what a risk assessment is, but anyone living with sickle cell should and will most likely know; since the condition is so unpredictable and a crisis can literally come on at any time. Sometimes every day has to be an evaluation of likely risks, and what precautions I can have in place just in case a crisis comes on.

Every holiday I have chosen not to book, cancelled, or missed, has always been because of one rule I have which I will never ever break:

#RULE: ONLY TRAVEL AT 100%

I don’t know about you, but I feel uneasy leaving my house if my phone is not fully charged, so if my body isn’t there is no way I’m leaving the country.

Being sensible with sickle cell is not only a vital part of keeping well, but it’s a vital part of staying alive.

I say YOLO often, but I value my life and would never risk it for a few days of fun.

When this post is published, i’ll be somewhere in the UK wishing I was on the holiday I was supposed to be on, but had to cancel because my body is not at 100%. I’m sure wherever I am i’ll still be giving thanks for life though.

Advertisements

Note To Self

Happy New Year and all things 2017!

I didn’t plan for this to be my first post of the year, but I also didn’t plan for sickle cell to interfere with the plans I had in December last year and throw me completely off my game. I believe that in everything we are faced with, there is a lesson to be learned. So even if you can’t see it at the time; take note.

If this post doesn’t help any readers with something that they may be going through, it will definitely be here to help me if I get to this point again in the future.

Note to self: Trouble nuh set like rain.

(Problems often arrive without warning)

 

Despite the odd obstacle here and there, 2016 was an amazing year for me. But when everything in life seems to be on one continuous upward spiral, it’s easy to forget that down even exists. I did. That was until down and I were reacquainted thanks to my beloved sickle cell.

Of all the complications and effects that sickle cell can have, one of the worst things about it is its unpredictability; a sickle cell crisis will Gully Creep into your life quicker than you can say Elephant Man!

I went from enjoying 14 unforgettable days in Gambia soaking up some well needed sun, guest speaking at my own event, donating books and creating memories with some truly amazing people, to spending 11 torturous nights in hospital watching old people die (3 to be precise). One minute I was unpacking my case whilst whining up my waist to Tekno-Panna and reminiscing about the day I had when I wore that stripe bikini. The next minute I was on the ambulance stretcher high off gas and air with a sick bucket, sky high temperature and a pain in my back which I could only describe as a feeling like I was being crushed.

I hadn’t felt this unwell in almost 2 years, and as much as I passionately hate being in hospital, I’m sensible enough to know when I need to go. The last time I had symptoms similar to what I was experiencing I ended up in intensive care, so I knew I wasn’t going nowhere for a while. This was one of those times where I had to just accept what was happening and keep my backside quiet.

Almost two weeks of my very amazing life was spent in hospital, but by the end of it my life felt very far from amazing.

It was early one Saturday morning when I felt like I had hit rock bottom. It was just after 3am so the lights were off and everyone was asleep. I sat up in the hospital bed and was just staring into the darkness. One of the nurses walked passed and whispered a rhetorical ‘you ok’ as she did. I’m glad she didn’t wait for me to answer because I felt my face move into a very stink ‘if looks could kill’ expression as I wondered why she would ask me such a stupid question.

If I was ok would I be there?

Just like that I had this horrible feeling inside me like everything was sinking. I’m the biggest cry baby but I couldn’t even cry because I wasn’t upset or angry. I was just empty and numb.

I had no more energy to be ok, because I wasn’t.

I had no more energy to stay strong because I felt weak.

Note to self: A nuh same day leaf drop it rotten.

(One bit of misfortune does not mean total destruction)

 

Those that know me well would agree that I am one tough cookie when it comes to my health. Anything that comes my way, I can handle it. But I have to admit that this is one time that sickle cell made me crumble and I didn’t think I could.

There are no words that can explain what it is like to know you’ve tried so hard for something but to feel like it was all for nothing. Over that weekend, I reached a level of sadness that I didn’t think I could get to.

Since my mom and I have this corresponding cosmic connection she felt how I was feeling instantly, and my dad could tell as soon as he seen me that I didn’t look like my usual self. Despite having chosen the best parents I would need to keep me going in these situations, this was one I knew I would have to bring myself out of. No comforting words from either of them was going to make this feeling go away. I had to find my own reasoning to pick myself back up.

As I was leaving the hospital a few days later, the reality of the situation became apparent and tears of joy and relief began to fall from my eyes. When my mom noticed and asked me if I was ok and why I was crying. I laughed and said,

“We used to have to do this 4 or more times a year. If we only have to do it once every 2 years now, I can handle it still”

It’s funny how when we’re down we find it difficult to see a way back up again; but there always is. Within a week of being home I bounced back to my normal self. I had a great 25th of December and was still able to party for the new year.

The come back was real!!