Laelah: My Life With Sickle Cell Disease

As a college student, I thought my biggest worry would be cramming for midterms. But more often, it’s how fast I can get to the nearest hospital.
I have a blood condition called sickle cell anemia. Normal red cells are round, but mine are a crescent shaped—like a sickle. Sickle cells stick to the walls of my blood vessels and clot when they shouldn’t. They starve my body of oxygen.
So my body fights back. It feels like being stabbed with knives. Repeatedly. It’s called a pain crisis, and it’s inside my body, so nobody can see it. It can last hours, days, even weeks. Pacing around the room helps. So does isolation. If I’m talking to a friend, the pain sometimes makes me stutter. It embarrasses me, and I feel so lonely.
One of my lowest lows came in high school. I had two strokes and a seizure. They rushed me to hospital and I received my first transfusion. Without that gift from blood donors, I don’t think I’d be around today for the wonderful life I’m living.
I want to help other people, so I blog. I put it all out there: anxiety, depression, happiness, hope. A message to other young people to just keep going—to know they’re not alone. I see my blog as baby steps toward my dream to open a nonprofit organization for sickle cell youth. Together, I know we can make our future bright.