Due to the anti-inflammatory drugs (pain killers) we must take because of the frequent excruciating pains we face, the possibilities of organ damage especially that of the kidney are high. At least one warrior we know will at one point in life is at risk of developing such other complications as a result of living with sickle cell. In fact, there are many warriors who also undergo kidney treatments as a result of this or suffer from gastritis. The medications are harsh on our organs and taking them regularly makes it even tougher because, despite these often negative side effects, we cannot do without them especially during those moments when it feels like a hammer is competing with a saw and a thousand pins to see who is stronger on your body.
And so again and again, we take them and pray we don’t suffer from the side effects. Sometimes though, these prayers seem unanswered as now and again, a warrior battles organ failure in addition to the pains et al of living with sickle cell. Since we don’t have much of a choice with the pain killers because they are as vital as the air we breathe, what can we do? Does it mean all of us warriors will just give up that it is a fore gone conclusion that we will suffer organ damages at one point in our lives?
Not necessarily. Just as one cannot stop using the highway because of the risk of accidents, we also cannot stop taking pain killers and just as any conscious highway user takes important precautionary steps to remain safe on the high ways, we also can take precautions to minimize the risk or prevent organ damage completely despite the frequency with which we take our medications. And again, just as not everyone ends up experiencing accidents on the highway, not all warriors will develop organ damage as complications related to life as a sickle cell warrior.
During my June Colour Awareness campaign, my focus on day 27 was on organ damage and how we can minimize or completely avoid them. You can check out the whole colour campaign on Face book here. In this post, I am going to talk about five things we can do to prevent our organs from getting damaged even as we continue to take the medications.
- Avoid taking the medications on an empty stomach.
We have already established above that the medications are rough on our organs. I know when the pain demons come knocking, the furthest thing from our mind is food. But we need to eat to avoid these medications searing our organs. What I do is that I try to eat something no matter how small. It may be boiled eggs, a banana, fruit drink or good ole milk. Just about anything to that can serve as a shield against the stronger effects of the medications on my delicate organs. Sometimes, a drug such as OMIZEC would be taken along. They also serve as a shield against the effects of these anti-inflammatory. A note of caution though: always ask your Dr before consuming any additional drugs.
- Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are great on theorgans. Fruits such as watermelons and cucumbers are very good for the kidney because they are good toxic eliminators. So whatever excess medication is left on our kidneys can easily be eliminated by a lifestyle rich in vegetables and fruits. If having access to fruits is difficult maybe due to finances or lack of supply, fever grass (lemon grass) is a good substitute. By boiling and drinking just like water, you are doing your organs good!
- Drink a lot of water.
Water is nature’s natural purifier so the importance of drinking a lot of water when you consume medications regularly cannot be over emphasized. So drinking a lot of water will go a long way to ensure excessive medications in our systems are flushed out. So DRINK! It is cheaper and readily available. Another note of caution: Avoid cold water and other cold drinks. They are not good for our chest and can result in a lot of chest pains and breathing complications.
- Maintain a healthy eating routine.
There’s no harm in indulging now and again in some fast food or consuming some fuzzy drinks. However, it shouldn’t become a routine. In fact, for every fuzzy drink you consume, drink at least three glasses of water to flush it out. Also, make more home cooked and healthier meals instead of consuming fast foods. For example, this dish commonly known as hotpot Irish potatoes is made with liver and assorted vegetables like carrots and green beans. The liver is a rich source of iron, which is great for anemia. The vegetables complete the meal making it whole, balanced and healthy. If possible, avoid alcoholic drinks. We all know heavy consumption of beer is already bad for our kidneys. Drinking beer when you are on regular medications is a lethal combination. Smoking is a NO-NO!
- Avoid developing a dependency mentality on the pain killers.
It is a given that we cannot do without the pain killers but it is also possible that we can avoid taking them as frequently as possible. This can be possible if we try as much as possible to avoid things that trigger our crises, thereby making it imperative to take them again and again. To be able to understand these trigger factors, you need to do well to understand your body. For example, I know stress, extreme cold and dehydration are trigger factors in my case so I try hard to avoid these or minimize my exposure to them. This has greatly reduced the frequency of my crises and therefore, a reduced intake of the pain killers and I daresay, an assurance of a more healthier organ, especially when combined with the other factors listed above.
I am sure there are a lot of things we can all do to minimize organ damage in sickle cell warriors. You can add those you know in the comment section below. In the meantime, I hope these five pointers help you or your warrior take care to protect your precious organs.
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