Looking beyond sickle cell pain

Sickle cell anaemia is a complex inherited disease affecting the blood and other organs of the body. Living with a chronic disease like sickle cell can be difficult to manage daily. This is because you can experience challenging symptoms and diagnoses when you have a crisis. These can affect your health, mobility, social and work life. A crisis pain is sometimes indescribable and when it slips away, like a thief in the night, you have to deal with the aftermath of tablets or injections that your body is inundated with during the crisis.  This is another conundrum of sickle cell and it is easy to become emotionally miserable or have a gloomy attitude to life.

However, if you have crises regularly, you need to make efforts not to allow negativity to set in by helping yourself.  Doctors say it is important to exercise. We exercise to keep fit and not to bury our feelings.  When you exercise, it will help you to think better and look at things from a different perspective. Try to exercise regularly, not once in a while.

Another thing you can do is to connect with people. This is vital because no man is an island. If you have people you can call on when sick, that is a positive.  And if you have people that you can talk to when well, that too is a good thing.  Either way, talking or receiving help will help your mood.

I remember when I was in my teens and had a crisis at home.  My cousins would come around and start talking about life.  I would be in bed, in pain, and listening to other people’s situations and jokes being cracked.  Their presence helped me forget the pain I was in during the time they were with me. Don’t isolate yourself because of your health.

Additionally, you can get out of the rot of feeling sorry for yourself by learning a new competency. There are many free training courses online. Look online and learn a new skill. It doesn’t have to be something that is brain-tasking. It could be learning to bake, sew, draw, code, make jewellery, bags or learn a language if you are so inclined.

You can get comfortable feeling sorry for yourself in order to cope with the stress of living with sickle cell. This can result in not being bothered with taking care of yourself. You may start developing unhealthy eating or drinking habits. When emotionally down, you can effortlessly start eating sugary, salty, and high-fat junk food daily. This will bring a temporary feeling of comfort but ultimately these types of food are not good for you and they have their side effects.

Another thing that you can do to help yourself is service to others. If you are able to help others, find a way to do so. When rendering service to someone else, you will forget about your problems. Personally, I think helping those who are in need more than I am, makes me see life differently.

Try to challenge any sad thought that would creep into you. Having a low mood or feeling hopeless regarding the future is a mental battle. You owe it to yourself to try and think differently. You might think that you are worthless, but is that really true? Challenge this inner voice that says you are worthless. The more you challenge this negative voice, the more it will diminish.

Try to do something different. This can be going somewhere you don’t normally go to. For example, going to a museum. If you are interested in knowing a country, there are books written about countries that you can read. Or go to a cinema on your own if there is no one to accompany you.  Try to have fun.

It is crucial to eat well, even when you do not feel like it. The best way around this is to eat foods that you like. Fresh fruits, salads, lean meats, oily fish such as salmon, whole grains, oats and beans are all good options, provided you do not have allergic reactions to them.

Getting adequate sleep is also vital for our brain and body to regenerate, repair and renew themselves.  There has been a lot of research on getting a good night’s sleep and how it improves overall health and energy levels, which can reduce symptoms of misery. I know that most people who are sick often with sickle cell crises have problems with sleep. This is due to the numerous sleepless nights caused by pain.

Lastly, I believe practising gratitude is vital. I know it is tough trying to navigate life with its challenges while living with sickle cell. Those living with sickle cell know how difficult life can be with frequent sickness. However, it is good to look beyond what is going on in terms of the symptoms, complications and diagnoses and still be thankful. Looking at the good things in your life as opposed to focusing solely on the negative things will help you develop a mind of thankfulness and gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for; it doesn’t have to be anything big. The fact that you are alive and reading this means there is still hope.

If you would like to get in touch with me about sickle cell, do so, via email: [email protected]  And do check out my blog:    My book on Sickle Cell – HOW TO LIVE WITH SICKLE CELL and my other books are available for purchase on

Back to top button