Traumatic Effects of Sickle Cell Anemia

When discussing the issue of trauma many usually refer to PTSD, violence, abuse, the lost of a loved one, etc. however the issue of individuals dealing with life-threatening illnesses and disease are often overlooked.

September is National

Sickle Cell Awareness Month

The month-long national celebration helps focus attention on the need for research, treatment and a cure sickle cell disease, an inherited condition that currently affects over 70,000 Americans. The

What is Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia, or sickle cell disease (SCD), is a genetic disease of the red blood cells (RBCs). Normally, RBCs are shaped like discs, which gives them the flexibility to travel through even the smallest blood vessels.  This can cause pain and organs, bone, and tissue damage.

In celebration and honor of my dearest friend and guardian angel

Shakira A. Martin

who passed away from complications due to Sickle Cell Anemia.

 

Sometimes trauma is virtually unnoticeable even to the victim’s closest friends and family members. For those who knew Shakira, they knew that she never considered her self to be a victim. Instead, she lived every moment and every day to the fullest and made it her life-goal to bring awareness to Sickle Cell Anemia.

In an article entitles ” Psychological Complications in Sickle Cell disease” Annie (2005) identified psychological complications in both children and adults with SCD as

  • inappropriate pain coping strategies
  • reduced quality of life owing to restrictions in daily functioning,
  • anxiety and depression
  • and neurocognitive impairment.

While Shakira didn’t dedicate much time to worrying about the what if’s of life the pain she endured during a crisis and the lack of knowledge from physicians really bothered her. When asked a close friend by the Name of Natarcia Codner who also suffers from the disease to describe the pain experienced during a crisis she described it as ” being stabbed all over your body while pulling off your limbs”.

Natarcia also stated that for someone dealing with the disease it can be very discouraging especially when feeling ill or dealing with the pain from a crisis because one can never be prepared for what to expect. Her exact words were it can go from 0 to 100 (real quick). As trauma can manifest days, months or even years after an actual event.  Trauma is often but not always associated with being present at the site of a trauma-inducing event. It is also possible to sustain trauma after witnessing something from a distance. This is why dealing with health-related trauma can also affect family members and friends.

As I have been present and by the side of both Shakira and Natarcia during the time of an actual crisis the most devastating part is knowing there’s absolutely nothing you can do to help ease their pain.  Shakira life motto was it relates to the sickle cell was “If you live a dead life, what was the purpose of being alive?” I was given the privilege of spending her final days with her in the place that she loved most “JAMAICA”. While Shakira experienced a great deal of pain during her final days she never stopped living.

She spent her final days attempting every activity and excursion her body would allow. As for the ones she couldn’t she found much joy in bossing me around and ensuring that I complete each task on our trips itinerary with or without her. When I returned she only had one request that I tell her all about it, show her all of the footage, and wine up on somebody man.  Shakira was a true example of someone who never allowed life’s pains and traumatic events take her out but instead she always found the beauty within her pain and for that experience alone I will forever be grateful.

Before her passing Shakira created a non-profit organization to help raise awareness while providing services that improve the quality of life for those afflicted with Sickle Cell Anemia in South Florida and Jamaica. The Shak’s Hope team is made up of Shakira’s warriors, Sicklers, healthcare professionals, caregivers, and volunteers with a passion for service.

 

I dedicate this post to every warrior, family member, friend, and those affected by the Sickle Cell Anemia disease. While I cant ease your pain this disease has scared your heart with I simply encourage you to find the beauty within the pain. For you are not alone. 

ShaksHope_logo-Header

For more information on Shak’s Hope see the link below.

Shak’s Hope

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