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6 Ways to support someone who has Sickle Cell Anemia

No man is an island! We all need to help each other along this journey we call life. However, some people may need a little more support than others, and there is nothing wrong with that. I believe we can all play a part, no matter how big or small it is, in reaching out to help each other.

Today, I will focus on how each one of us can support, in different ways, people with the condition who are close to us. I cannot tell it all but this is the little that I can share.

Pray for them! “…and in spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” – Ephesians 6:18. I believe that prayer is powerful. Talk to God about your friend, sister, wife, mother, brother, whoever has sickle cell. Ask the Lord to watch over that person and to keep the person safe and healthy. Pray for every aspect of their lives. The reality is that, God takes care of everyone. Whatever we do is nothing compared to what God can do, so take that person before the throne of God, through prayer! There have been countless times, when I have seen how the prayers of loved ones have supported my mother and I. One of these days, I will share a story about that, but for now, all I know is that prayer is the answer! So, even if you cannot do anything at all…pray for them! “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6

Remind them to take their medication. I cannot speak for every one who has the condition but all of us take some form of medication. It all depends on the person’s condition. I take folic acid and multivitamin pills daily. Let me just confess, I am not very good at taking my medication. I HATE taking pills! In fact, I would rather take an injection, than swallow pills…..just the thought of taking pills makes me cringe. Soooo, honestly, I do not always take my medication. You would think that I would know better, especially since this would help me. However, I am stubborn and sometimes, I honestly forget and other times, I intentionally forget (sorry mummy). When I was younger, my mother was always on my case about taking my pills and she is STILL on my case. Thankfully, I am doing much better now! So, if you know someone like me, please encourage that person to take their pills, EVERYDAY, especially folic acid.

My mother reported me to my husband, so whenever I am with him, it’s as if he is sets an alarm, before I know it, he is standing by me with my pills and water. It’s not like I was not going to take it oo…but he will make sure that I have no excuse, and he will stand there and make sure I take it too. Please, I am not asking you to go and be a medication police officer and be putting pressure on people. That will make your actions annoying and counter-productive. Most of the time, people know what they need to do, but sometimes an occasional push or reminder can be helpful.

Watch out for crisis triggers, if possible. A crisis can show up at any time. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, you can be fine today, and sick the next day, and the annoying thing is, sometimes, you just do not know why! However, there are some triggers you keep an eye on. One major trigger is…stress/fatigue. That is one major trigger. If you notice that your friend who has the condition is doing the most, and getting tired and stressed all the time, please check up on them and get the person to STOP and rest! The more you go, go and go… the likelihood that you will get a crisis is high. These past weeks, I have been so busy and sooooo tired and there have been moments that I have felt some pain. Sometimes, I want to deny it and keep going but then my body says to me “ma’am, you need to go lie down and rest,” and I must obey, if I don’t want wahala (trouble). So, if you can know someone who does not seem to take a break, please, help them take a break. We cannot always tell what triggers a crisis, but in another post, I will deal with a few that are peculiar to me.

Keep them hydrated – This one, I think is very simple. Make sure the person you know who has the condition stays hydrated. Let them drink water, plenty of it! It will help avoid a crisis. If they do not like water (yes, such people exist) you can get them to drink tea, juice, soup, milk etc. Just make sure they are hydrated. Some medical experts advise to stay away from caffeine and alcohol because it makes the kidney excrete more water out of our system through urine, which can lead to dehydration. As a supporter, make sure your friend, child, brother, sister is hydrated. It helps!

Have some pain medication available. You can keep some pain medication with you. That could become the first source of relief, if there is ever a crisis.

Be an advocate! If you find yourself at the hospital with a sickle cell patient, please be their advocate, especially here in America. From my experience in Ghana, most often, the doctors and nurses know what to do because they have had a lot of experience working with people who have the condition. Being in the US, I have come to learn that it takes a lot more talking to get what you need, (that is a story for another day) Therefore, if you can be present in any of these situations, make sure whoever you are with is getting the attention that they need. At that point in time, when the pain has overtaken the body, they need you to be their voice. Ask questions and monitor whatever is done. This will be very very helpful!

You cannot do it all and you may not always get it right but knowing that you are there and ready to help is enough support for the person with the condition

I end with a quote from Mother Teresa, ” Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Faustie
    September 24, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    On point VM. Permission to make a contribution.
    Help them manage their stress levels / be mindful not to stress them out. I have a story to this point. So my daughter is SS and unfortunately her new teacher had not been informed about her sickling status. One day when we picked her up from school at 4pm, she was crying and her classmates told us she had been crying since noon! What happened was that she couldn’t spell a word and so her teacher asked her to keep standing and would not let her sit until she spelt a word correctly. Unfortunately for us, she started complaining of pain in her legs and that kicked in a crisis .

    Like Vanessa has been sharing, the biggest careline for sickle cell is MANAGEMENT! Knowing what the triggers are, managing them, avoiding stress and getting sick.

    If you are a parent, sibling, friend, fiancee, teacher, classmates or work colleague of a sickler, please be measured in your interactions with them so you don’t stress them out.

    Keep the great work VM.

    • Reply
      vnsmgn
      September 24, 2019 at 2:12 pm

      Awwwww, I am so sorry about what happened to your daughter! This is why people need to know about this condition so they don’t make lives even more complicated for others. Thank you for sharing this story! It is really helpful! I hope the teacher has been informed now and will take note of her actions!

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