It is a beautiful sunny day. In fact, it is a day you have waited for so long that when it finally comes, you just have to put on that strapless or light dress which gives you an air of freedom; especially if you are accustomed to dressing like a Reverend sister. And so, on the dress comes and off you go for that long awaited stroll, evening time out etc.
And then, the elements get into cahoots, some kind of njangi. The sun disappears without a by your leave and next thing you know, the weather is chilly. It is even worse if the ominous clouds are followed by rain. Operation stay warm ensues and the warrior has to assemble his or her arsenal of weapons to fight this public enemy number one; COLD.
Nobody likes extreme cold weather. For people with sickle cell however, even a little exposure to cold can sometimes be fatal. Small wonder that many warriors face health battles during extreme cold weathers. Severe pain crises are usually on the rise when places are cold. Understanding this is crucial to maintaining a semblance of health during such cold periods.
There is therefore need to take precautionary steps some of which include;
- Always walk with extra clothing which could provide warmth in case of sudden change of weather. In such a situation, ‘wraps’ are important. They are easy to carry and can do the work quite well of keeping you warm.
- In case you get caught in the rains and get drained, seek shelter if possible. Dancing in the rains is a no, no and make sure you try to get home into warm dry clothes; then head straight to the kitchen to make yourself a large hot cup of milk, tea, fever grass (lemon grass) or whatever, just make sure to drink something hot. They will provide the necessary warmth to your chilled bones and abort a full blown crisis taking place. And just for extra precaution, take a mild pain killer before you sleep.
- Dress warm always, especially when flying or doing stuff at high altitude. This doesn’t mean you wear shapeless none descript dresses. Just select dresses that are tasteful, chic but keep you warm and healthy.
- Sleep under blankets and if possible, make use of hotwater bottles.
- Avoid cold drinks. That chilly, sweaty tall glass of drink your neighbour or sibling is drinking looks very tempting and inviting no doubt but by all means avoid it. Best drink water and any liquid at room temperature. Of course now and then, indulging in a cold drink is unavoidable. We all are guilty of that including yours truly… I do so now and then when in Douala but I always dilute mine. It is however, imperative to know your body and when you can indulge without landing in the hospital for your efforts. It is not advisable so it is best to avoid it all together.
- With the increased rise of air conditioners in office places, many warriors are uncomfortable in such environments. Not wanting to be a spoil sport, many endure the chilly environment and suffer in silence. It is worst if they work with unsympathetic and uncooperative bosses and colleagues. My suggestion is to arm yourself with a pair of clean socks and wear them while you sit at your desk. You can discretely remove them when you are stepping out of the office.
Never mind if someone notices and mocks at you. You will be the one suffering, screaming your head off and performing karate in the hospital bed, trying to find a more comfortable position to sleep with the pains that may ensue. Make self consciousness no carry you go six feet under, abeg!
To win a battle, a warrior must understand the enemy and take precautions. In a similar way, sickle cell warriors need to understand how their body react to the elements and arm themselves accordingly. Unfortunately, cold is not something one can become immune to. So, to have as much a stress and crises free rainy season or winter period depending on where one finds themselves, understand and take the necessary precautions to fight this public enemy number one. Staying warm has been my saving grace during cold periods.
It is your life, your battle so take charge and be a winner!
ARREY- E. AGBOR-NDAKAW