Sickle cell disease and the hospital go hand in hand. There’s a kind of love-hate relationship between sickle cell warriors and hospitals. We do not like it but we cannot do without it either. This knowledge is so deep in us that we have devised ways to refer to it. Some call it prison and getting out is like prison break. I sometimes call it my favourite rest house or battle field while some call it second home. Whichever way we call it though, it remains a fact that in this journey we call life, hospital stays and visits come fully packaged to each and every one of us.
Does that mean we have to constantly rush to the hospital whenever we have our pain demons unleash their fangs? Not necessarily. Of course, we have to constantly be on the outlook, understanding the pain symptoms and if they are getting better or worst with over the counter pain killers so that we head to the hospital without delay if they seem to be getting worst. However, it is not always that we must head to the hospital. With a little care and proper management, a lot of our crises can be managed at home. I have been asked by many what I do when in crisis and if I always rush to the hospital. Here are a few things I always do. I hope this helps shed some light on how to manage our crisis at home while keeping an eye open in case we need to dash to the hospital.
Basically, pain killers are the route taken during onset of crisis. Most often, many over the counter pain relievers would do the trick. Each warrior has to know what works best for them and keep an emergency pack or two at home. If you understand your body well, you might be able to pick out possible signs of an impending crisis. If it is not the sudden, intense kind of crisis, sometimes just lying down and relaxing for a few minutes or hours would do the trick. If that doesn’t help, take the pain killers and lie down.
Secondly, state hydrated. If it is possible to have a constant supply of warm water, it would be preferable. Drink as many glasses as possible. I believe the warm water helps soothe the pain as it may help to dilute the frozen cells and push them out especially during those very cold periods. Whatever way you want to do it, drink a lot of water at room temperature. Staying hydrated goes a long way.
Thirdly, dress warm and do hot water therapy. It may be through hot baths or filling the hot water jar and keeping it under you or around the painful area. The heat generated from this action would greatly help in soothing the pains away.
Fourthly, eat healthy. More vegetables and fruits provide our system with essential minerals which help to fortify and build our immune system up. Yes, it is difficult to eat when all you want to do is just to cry yourself away to sleep. However, no matter how strong the pain killers are, they will not do well on an empty stomach and besides; it is not advisable to take medicines on an empty stomach as they may lead to other complications like gastritis. Therefore, eat but eat healthy.
The next thing to do is distract yourself. Look for anything you like or which is funny which can momentarily distract you and take your mind away from the pains. I usually have a book handy or a TV program I like to watch. Sometimes I become so absorbed in the book or TV program that I forget the pain and can only make the ‘agghhh’ when I am no longer distracted by them. Therefore, a little distraction goes a long way.
Also, try to be less panicky and learn to relax. Stress aggravates the crisis and worrying will only make things worse. Yes of course, we do worry if that crisis would be the beginning of the one that sends us six feet under. However, how about thinking about the many things you would like to accomplish and willing yourself to get well and go out there to conquer? Why dwell only on the negative? So, relaxing and trying to be less panicky does great for me. Think Positive.
The seventh thing I do is make sure to build up my blood naturally. Sickle cell crisis usually always lead to anaemia and our already weakened system may well land us in a hospital with a demand for blood transfusion if care is not taken. Nature’s amazing pharmacy is full of many natural ways to keep the blood supply up and pumping even in the midst of crisis. You can do that for yourself or warrior child. The bonus is doing it regularly not only when we are down is much more easier to ensure we do not have to face that blood shortage challenge as we manage our crisis at home. I have written about some of these natural blood builders here.
Lastly but not the less important, PRAY. I am yet to meet a warrior who is an atheist. So, keep the conversation lines between you and your God open always especially during those trying moments. Not everyone may understand what you are going through but he most surely will. So pray.
And as a bonus point, remain watchful and understand your body well. If possible have a doctor or other efficient health personnel on speed dial in case you feel you just have to visit this second home or favourite rest house or battle field or prison or whatever you wish to call it.
These points above have been helpful in managing my crisis at home and by so doing, have greatly reduced the frequency with which I visit the hospital. I hope they might prove useful to you or your warrior too.
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