Are you or have you every been ashamed of having sickle cell disease?

When I was a lot younger especially in my primary and secondary school days, I was ashamed of having sickle cell. I was embarrassed by the onset of a crisis that didn’t care if you were out in public on in the comfort of your home before hitting you with pain in any part of your body it so desires at the time. The insensitivity of people when they asked question on why I walk with a limp or why my eyes are always yellow instead of white like every “normal” person brought about even more shame. So many times I go to bed, desperately wishing when I wake up the next morning this nightmare called sickle cell will be over. I guess growing up in Nigeria a third world country where disability is more than a description but carries a stigma, where no form of disability is embraced but ostracized I grew feeling ashamed of having sickle cell.
The turning point for me came after I gave life to Christ. One day I came across the Serenity prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) which says “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. I started to ponder on those words and realised I cannot change the fact that I have sickle cell or when how a crisis starts neither can I stop people from being mean, however I can start to learn more about tell tale signs that a crisis might be triggered and do things to prevent it as much as I can. I learnt to turn comments about why my eyes are so yellow, which would have caused hurt in the past to a cue to drink more water. I cannot really tell at what point I stopped being ashamed but I noticed with the change of attitude that came after pondering on this prayer I find myself willing to talk freely about sickle cell, laughing at myself and will happily tell anyone who cares to listen that I suffer sickle cell.

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