Going Through Life With Double Pain : Sickle Cell and Menstruation

ARREY- ECHI
Posted May 17, 2019 from Cameroon
Drinking natural blood builders like this help boost my immune system and reduce the level of anemia during menstruation. (1/1)

There is an increasing focus on menstruation matters and it really warms my heart to see this attention on something so important to womanhoodyet, treated as a taboo subject by many societies the world over. Menstrual blood has been called unclean and every kind of trashy name that there is, forgetting that this blood is the essence of womanhood. Also, menstrual cramps have been likened to a number of things, including heart attack. All these talks about menstruation are important today and especially so, when we get to consider just how much menstruation affects a woman’s life and over all daily performances.

A lot of women and young ladies experience painful periods during their menstrual cycle. For some, it is so painful that they may end up not going to school; work etc, for the duration of their period.As a matter of fact, as I write this, there is probably one woman somewhere going through excruciating pain due to menstrual cramps. And yet, they are expected to just smile it away and go about as if nothing is happening. Many school going girls lack basic hygienic and sanitary education during menstruation which forces them to miss school a lot during their menstrual period. The taboos and other snide remarks which usually follow once people discover a young girl is menstruating don’t help much. So it is endearing to see so many champion menstruation matters, breaking the silence, taboos and ensuring girls have access to a menstrual kit and adequate education to manage their menstrual cycle. That notwithstanding, I feel there is also a group of people often over looked when talking menstrual issues… people living with disabilities and other chronic health conditions.

As someone who lives with sickle cell anemia, menstrual cramps is not an easy ride and the pains can sometimes be fatal. As a matter of fact, this pain may well lead to a full blown sickle cell crisis which lands me (us) in the hospital fighting for our lives.

As a young girl, I used to experience crisis almost every month and I did not always understand why. It was not until I started paying attention to my body, to understand possible pain trigger factors and devise ways to avoid or minimize them before I was able to connect the dots that my menstrual moments were also agent provocateurs of my frequent pain crises.

Even after this discovery, I was still not comfortable discussing the fact that this was making me have frequent crisis episodes.Who gave me the courage to talk about something that was highly taboo and was only spoken of in whispered language and coded words?

And because I was silent about my menstrual experience due largely to feeling uncomfortable talking about something everyone was hush, hush on, my mother got worried; thinking my health situation is affecting my growth and hormonal developments in more ways than one. It took a while for me to explain that though a late bloomer, my organ faculties were very much intact and functioning just great! I learnt to manage the menstrual cramps for instance, by paying attention to my body and taking mild pain killers during onset of menstruation which served as brakes for a full blown crisis. I also learnt just eating healthy, drinking natural blood builders such as that one the cover picture to prevent severe anemia and staying hydrated helps. But not after I have landed several times in the hospital for days due to a crisis provoked by menstrual cramps. Nowadays, unless I have had a very stressful time, I can enjoy this unique period of womanhood without fear of landing in the hospital. Just taking little precautions have been helpful.

So while talks about menstruation and menstrual hygiene gather momentum worldwide this period, let’s remember sickle cell warriors and other people with disabilities who may be having it tough during menstruation. Women living with sickle cell who also experience menstrual cramps are in for a long haul. There have even been instances where some have opted for induced menopause just to reduce the frequencies of hospital stays due to menstrual induced crisis. Let us keep the talks on menstrual matters going but while at it, let us remember persons with disabilities and other chronic health conditions which make those undergoing menstruation challenges a tough moment. It is great to feel like a beautifully made woman, but it is not so great to enjoy this experience in constant pain.

This story was submitted in response to Menstruation Matters.

Comments 21

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Lisbeth
May 17
May 17

Hi Arrey,
I am not in your shoes but I can understand you small. Its always double sickness when you got malaria + "period" for me. With this I can relate.
Thanks for sharing and continue boosting your system for a health "period"! :-)

Thanks for sharing!

ARREY- ECHI
May 17
May 17

Hello Liz,
Thank you very much for reading and for the kind words.
Periods are hard in themselves and even more so when they come along side other health issues.
I guess what we can do is just learn how to manage them and enjoy womanhood in the process.
Thank you. I sure will continue boosting the immune system.

Hugs to you

Olutosin
May 17
May 17

My Earth Angel. The warrior! Double Salute to you. I will never forget. Never. There is no day I do not think about people with challenges, how they cope and how they keep on keeping on, and always pray for them, this is another wake up czll for us to not just prsy but to lend a helping hand whenever and wherever necessary.
Respect my sister.

ARREY- ECHI
May 24
May 24

Thank you very much Sister Mi. Your prayers and support means a lot and I do not take them for granted. I love and appreciate you.

maeann
May 17
May 17

Hi Arrey,

Thank you for sharing your story. I just realize until I read your story...Yes how about those girls who have disabilities? Thinking here and thanks....very helpful story of yours...

ARREY- ECHI
May 24
May 24

Hello Maeann,
Thank you very much for taking the time to read my story and also drop an encouraging comment, I am glad my story set you thinking. What about persons with disabilities indeed?

maeann
May 25
May 25

youre welcome :)

Jill Langhus
May 18
May 18

Hi Arrey,

I hear you about menstrual pain. I just had a bad bout of pain this last week. I thought those days were over since my periods are very light now and I even miss them sometimes now due to peri-menopause, but like you said, if we're paying attention to our bodies and not pushing ourselves, then we can experience easier cycles. And, then we can start to appreciate more the beautiful wisdom in our bodies, and honor ourselves and the process more.

I hope your'e doing well now and having a good/safe weekend, dear!?

ARREY- ECHI
May 24
May 24

Hello Jill,
Sorry about the bout of pain you felt. I guess sometimes, we get to a stage where we actually miss something we first felt it nuisances due to the pains. But yes, care and attention does help us enjoy such special moments and to celebrate our womanhood.

I am doing great, thank you for asking. Just had a busy few weeks.
Hope you are too.

Jill Langhus
May 24
May 24

Hello there:-)

Thank you for your empathy, dear... much appreciated:-)

Great to hear:-)

Yes, I'm doing well, thank you!

Hope you have a fab weekend, dear!

ARREY- ECHI
May 24
May 24

You are welcome and thank you,

You too, a better weekend for you.

Jill Langhus
May 24
May 24

Thanks, love:-)

Tarke Edith
May 18
May 18

Hello Arrey
Thanks for sharing, you know sister this August guest of women is what make us to be what we are today ,my first experience was wonderful ,but thank God l am able to educate my children today well about it

ARREY- ECHI
May 24
May 24

Hello Sis,
Thank you for the kind words and glad you are using your experience to educate your children about this regular monthly and sometimes unwanted visitor. You are right, it is the essence of our womanhood.

KATEMIRI
May 20
May 20

Heart touching. Even though my first wasn't painful and is still not. Ithe happened at the bathing room. I already knew what is. Knowledge is power

ARREY- ECHI
May 24
May 24

Hello Katemiri,
Knowledge is indeed power. I guess that is why you were prepared.
Thank you for reading.

Tamarack Verrall
May 20
May 20

Hi Arrey,
Thank you for the important reminder that women with certain disabilities and chronic illnesses may have, and often have extra pain and/or side effects that come along with menstruation. Also thanks for the photo of foods that help, and can help us all as well. Our work is not done unless needed changes include all people with disabilities and your work and your voice here are critically important reminders.

ARREY- ECHI
May 24
May 24

Hello Mama Tam,
Thank you very much. Your ever kind and encouraging words are always empowering. We need to tell our stories to shine a light on the challenges we sometimes face first as women and then as women with some sort of disability or chronic health situation.

Thank you, <3

Hello, Sister Arrey,

Our Sickle Cell Champion/Warrior! Thank you for adding your voice on #MenstruationMatters. We honor you for fighting harder than the rest of us, and for representing every person with disability or special needs. I’m glad you are blessed with strong communication skills so you can raise awareness not just on Sickle Cell, but for those women who have physical limitations or pains.

I’m rooting for you, dear! Stay strong!

ARREY- ECHI
May 31
May 31

Bless you my dear Sis Karen.
Your kind and encouraging words are ever so appreciated. Thank you for the love and support. Grateful for being able to tell about our realities.
Having people like you in my support tribe makes it all worthwhile. Thank you!

I think I would belong to your cheerleading team if you have one, shouting, “Go, Arrey, go,go,go, sis Arrey!”. Haha. But I’m not that well-coordinated so my fingers do the cheering for you. Have a great day!