There’s something that usually always comes to mind when people hear sickle cell anemia. There are still a lot of people who believe those of us who live with sickle cell cannot live without blood transfusions and as such, they make it seem like our lives are more like those of a modern day vampire, who must need blood to survive.
I have gone through the transfusion process and it was never a good experience for me. Maybe it helped keep me alive but it also came with a price; the frequent transfusions left my immune system weak, prone to infections and many allergies which still affect me till date.
As I grew older, a lot of things happened which made me to start thinking about alternative ways to blood transfusion. I wanted to be alive, but I didn’t want to be alive dependent on blood transfusions. The big question was how was I going to break through this notion that we as sickle cell warriors needed blood like oxygen to stay alive? How was I going to keep the doctors from constantly telling my mum they needed to transfuse me each time I went to the hospital? This was when my adventures with Mother Nature began. I started exploring Nature’s amazing pharmacy and in the process, discovered a lot of ways I could keep my blood up naturally. I also learnt that doing so on a regular basis kept my blood up and thankfully, has been able to help me stay transfusion free for more than 20 years and being healthy and stronger in the bargain. These adventures in discovering nature’s amazing pharmacy was the focus of my discussion during the last Sickle Cell Clinic I participated in as a peer educator on July 21, 2018. I shared with the warriors and their parents present some of the things I have been doing for all these years which has kept my blood count constantly up and which has made me keep wishing I never truly have to face the “we need to transfuse her” line for as long as I live. I emphasize the need for parents and warriors alike to make it a regular feature of their everyday diet… good eating habits, leaning more towards vegetables, fruits as opposed to fast foods; getting into an adventurous mode and exploring what wonders nature has in store for us in building our blood count up.
As a bonus point, I even told the mothers present, who were busy scribing away that they can use that as an opportunity to empower themselves financially. For instance, sharing some of my recipes for blood tonics and seeing how it helps their warriors can actually motivate them to help others and in the process make some money which could in the long run, help them cover some of the financial weigh of caring for a sickle cell child. And the good thing is, these products are affordable and virus free. It all boils down to being daring to try new and positive alternatives to health care.
The clinic ended well and everyone was happy. Another warrior took it upon himself to translate into French, ensuring that everyone present followed and benefited from the discussion. The group which cut across French, English and Muslim was an interesting and interactive one which I hope also ended with a strong take home lesson for the warriors and their parents to empower themselves as they explore Nature’s amazing pharmacy.