Before the advent of modern warfare and all the plethora of weaponry displayed today, warriors in the past had to fight their enemies with crude weapons. These weapons ranged from bows and arrows to swords and even axes and cutlasses. Horses were also a part of such warfare and warriors were expected to fight hard. In fact, survival means no mistake
otherwise one risked being stabbed and skinned by enemy warriors who most likely parade their carcasses as prized trophies of war.
These were not the only trophies displayed or carried around proudly. Sometimes, some warriors were badly wounded with zigzagged stripes like those of a Zebra. Many such were often left to die. In the event that they brave the odds and survived those damaging beatings to their bodies, they were often left with a disfigured and twisted body form. To many a warrior, this disfiguration was nothing to be ashamed of. It was a testament to the fact that they were survivours; they went into battle and came out victorious as such, they brandished their disfigured stripes and all as prized trophies to any who cared to see and hear their tale.
Sickle cell warriors similarly have a battle of sorts to fight. Theirs is fought within the confines of a hospital dressing room filled with antiseptics and what have we. Their weapons are injections and a host of antibiotics administered regularly to combat this common enemy to many a sickle cell warrior. Many have to go into this battle field again and again; depending on how often the enemy decides to strike dealing with pains, agony and facing amputations.
But then what kind of battle is this? Screams and wails become akin to the victory cry of a warrior in a typical battle field.
We are talking leg ulcers. Yes you heard me right leg ulcers. Sickle cell patients have a hard time coping with any wound, especially wounds that develop around the ankle area. This is probably due to their already weakened immune system. However, many medical journals show that leg ulcers are a common enough occurence to the majority of sickle cell patients.
It is a bit difficult to pinpoint why some wounds automatically result to ulcers. Nevertheless, factors such as poor blood circulation around the wound added especially to the already weaken anaemic state many find themselves in is a possibility. It is well known that among other things one of which is healthy lifestyle, blood flow and circulation is essential to accelerate wound healing.
That notwithstanding, dealing with the leg ulcer is every inch a battle. The constant hospital trips, the numerous injections, the uncountable painful scrapping and debridement that elicit screams from patients, the high risk of losing limps if they don’t properly heal. The list goes on.
They say only those who wear shoes in this case stripes know where it pinches (pains) it is therefore only reasonable to conclude that if you have never been a victim of a leg ulcer, you can never truly understand the pain and agony that accompanies it. Just as anyone can be a warrior but only those who have engaged in warfare understand the agony of a battle field.
You come out scarred and you wonder if you will ever wear those heels you have been dying to have? Never mind that you can’t wear the heels but you certainly still have the legs to wear ‘two ropes’ and move around. Some come out limping on crutches.
Does this mean sickle cell warriors who never had leg ulcers are not warriors enough? No. Neither does it make what they go through less a battle. The crux of the matter here is that if you have never been ableto pass through the agonyof a leg ulcer, count yourself mighty fortunate and take all precautions possible to make sure you never. If however, you have been through this road before, then be proud to be a survivor. I don’t here mean you go about bragging. It is not something to be proud of but neither is it something to be ashamed of. Just like any typical warrior, the scars are your stripes incurred in the line of battle and there is nothing to be ashamed of the disfiguration of your body. On the contrary, even if it doesn’t make your leg the best to win the Miss Universe leg pageant, it made you the noble prize winner of courage under fire; something only few people can actually brag about.
No corrective surgery, no scar removing creams just wear your stripes. They are a reminder of a baptism of fire you passed through again and again and each time, you come out victorious.
ARREY E. AGBOR-NDAKAW