Dear Africana Woman,
Today I have been off. I woke up and my body was sore. And you know when I feel pain around my spine then I know that woah this could be something serious. This is because, way back when, I believe my year 10 at boarding school, it was almost time for lights to go off. And I was chatting with a friend on her bed so I jumped onto me bed to get ready for bed. The lights went out and in a split second there was a searing pain through my spine. I could not move. Here’s the thing with boarding school, or at least the one I went to, whenever you declare you are not feeling well, the one and only diagnosis is malaria. So they immediately put everyone on malaria medication and just grossness. Somehow, I was transferred from this dorm to the sick bay and there I must have tried to sleep on a bed for one day, but gurl it was painful-oh. I said nix. That’s how my mattress was laid on the ground. Plus they had started me on a malaria regime. Chloroquine guys was the bane of my existence. It is disgusting. I am one of those people who takes a long time to swallow pills. What happens is that I put it in my mouth and it will stay there for a good five minutes whilst I psych myself up to swallow. I don’t know what the problem with swallowing is. Whether I think that I will choke or turn pink kaya, there is just a genuine phobia at that point. Now imagine putting water in your mouth with a pill like chloroquine and it starts dissolving. Jeezus. Even now just thinking about it I feel like puking. So, I developed this technique where I don’t take pills with water. I have to swallow first (after 5 minutes) then I wash it down my oesophagus with water.
Back to the story so these Nuns had me in the sick bay under the auspices of Malaria. But there I am lying on the floor not able to move let alone eat, writhing in pain. I was in there for maybe a week and a half. No improvement. I used to have this one hallucination that looked like a full moon and then a black line would start to scribble on it. This would drive me crazy because I could not get it out of my mind. And for whatever reason it felt like as the scribble grew my heart was being squeezed. The connection is weird. Is there even one? Needless to say that was agony.
A year or two before my illness another student had died having gone through the sick bay. So these women were looking at me with suspicious eyes. Like who is she trying to die on here. That’s how they called my mum and told her to come and get her child. They washed their hands and said, "We have failed." That’s how Chulu went home.
We went to the family doctor, who has since passed. He listened to me. Asked a few questions and says. Okay I suspect it is something but let’s do a test to confirm my diagnosis. That’s how we did the test. The results were confirmed. That is the time I learned that I am a sickle cell carrier. It amazes me how as a society we are still not very educated about the sickle cell trait.
Let me explain in lay mans terms. Basically, my red blood cells are the shape of the letter C. This means when oxygen tries to attach itself to the cells it is not always successful. Just think about it, if you don't have oxygen in your body then it's a problem. This means I am prone to anaemia. In addition, the red blood cells tend to interlock because of the shape and make clusters. This is a problem because at joint areas where the blood vessels are thinner its hard for the cluster of red blood cells to pass through. Instead they cause pain especially in the cold season when the blood vessels become smaller. Now this is something that is passed on from parents genetically to their children. Sickle Cell is predominant in melanted people, yes you black pipo. Meaning if both parents have the trait there is a higher chance that the child can inherit both genes and become a sickler. Whereas, maybe only one parent has the trait which a child inherits and then they have a sickle cell trait, insert Chulu here. We often hear about sicklers having a medical crisis where the condition flares up. In the case of people with the trait, for the most part they will not experience a crisis if they look after themselves very well. This can be controlled through diet, supplements, and being physically fit. Now if you have seen me you know I am a curvy chick, so a lot of people get surprised when they learn that I have the sickle cell trait. That’s just a misconception. Anyone can have it.
When I got sick, I was actually going through a crisis and there was an infection in my spine, which I think was cleared up with antibiotics. Then they started piling on things like do not wear high heels, and I had just received a suitcase full of high heels from my father. I was like yup ignore that one. Basically, they were saying do not strain your spine. It is interesting, thinking about it right now, because I think then I became very mindful about my health and wellness. You know. I started to think about the foods I ate being wholesome. Due to my susceptibility to anaemia I had to include iron rich foods. To this date I am a fussy or one could call it intentional eater.
All this to say that I do not play around with a pain or throbbing in my spine. All tools are set down and it’s time to rest. I was in bed by 3pm. When night fell I kept the lights off because I felt a migraine coming on. If you cannot tell by now, I am more of a holistic health person. Therefore, usually I turn to water as my first remedy. Then rest. Then the medical profession in cases of emergencies. I think the precursor to this is making sure my diet is balanced. As a vegetarian with a sickle cell trait people do not understand how this is possible. I honestly do not have time to explain today, just do your research.
Moral of the story. When you are planning on having children, you and your partner should get tested so as you understand the likelihood of having a child with sickle cell. When your body says, “Halo, I need to rest,” listen to it. You will find the work tomorrow. Take control of your own health. You are the one who knows what is best for your body. Practitioners may advise, but if your intuition is telling you otherwise, that is okay too.
I am off to continue resting. Catch you tomorrow. If you are new here, welcome Queen. Make sure you click the subscribe button and you will receive this love letter directly. To my Live Hard readers, you are the one. Thank you for your continued support. Africana Woman is a blog, podcast and community. Make the most out of it. Here’s what I know, we all have preferences for how we receive information. Some people prefer visual aids, other prefer to listen. Whichever, one it is, we got you boo. I just have one small ask from you, which is please share this with at least one friend. Don’t be stingy. Let them also have na enjoyment. Thank you Darling I appreciate you. You can find me on Instagram at ChulubyDesign. Remember to love yourself, flaws n all, and attract the life that you desire. Day 10 complete. #30DaysWriting
Lurv you hun