To health warriors
Who are gone
Who are alive
Who choose strength, love and forgiveness
Love covers all sins and by it, all the multitude of sins can be erased. However, how true is this in the face of the reality of an existence, where a child has to live constantly in pain because of the selfish love of his or her parents?
It leaves the mind crippled hearing that people living beautifully and impacting their societies are gone. Some of them look healthy after all but the news of their death evidently leaves one curious about how much is being spent almost monthly to stay alive. Yet, how many of them can their parents afford to pay for drugs? How many of these lovers cum parents have been able to hold together the sacredness of matrimony in the face an unhappy child with sickle cell anemia? How many times has the mother engaged in a wishful return to the past in order to make the right decision? On the part of the suffering child, how much of a din of anger does such have for the parents?
The care of people having this condition could have frustrating financial implication. Treatment may include infection prevention using vaccination, antibiotics, daily intake of folic acids, pain relief drugs, among others.
Sharing her story as one of the two sickle cell patients among her siblings, a student in the University of Ibadan revealed that the medical demands are quite high and varied depending on the chronic nature of the patient. “I have suffered from AVN and to be operated on, the doctor said I would pay 1.5million. You can imagine how much other diseases would cost.”
While speaking on her reaction toward her parents who despite their knowledge still went ahead to marry, she said, “They already beat themselves up and are very supportive. The hurt they go through when I’m sick is enough. I can’t add to their pain.”
On the other, her situation has been a challenge to her education. She shares: I’m not really a chronic patient but some pains here and there. Despite that, it has affected my studies in some ways. For example, during exam period one semester, I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed, my friends took care of me. The only way out was watching videos on YouTube in relation to my school work and friends who read to me are always supportive.
Commenting as well on the life expectancy, she dismisses death as an eventuality that should not be feared. However, her fear is not being taken care of by the person she would have to marry the way her parents take care of her. “I’m not insecure about it because I see it more as a challenge than a disease”, she concludes.
In her message to lovers who ignore their genotypes, she said, “Love covers nothing. Love would not stop the agonizing pain and psychological effects when a warrior is facing it, love would not stop the blood from being sickled. All lovers should use their heads and not think with their heart. In this day and age, no child deserves to go through pain as a sacrifice for one nonsensical love.
Another patient, who spoke in respect to the exhausting experiences of being a sickled patient says her parents always feel guilty. In her case, her mother had told her how the medical test confirmed that her father’s genotype was AA but her birth proved otherwise. For her as well, she had had a test result which stated that she was AA until doing it over and over again confirmed the genetic abnormality.
Reacting to the implications of her health status to her study, she says, “I hate to blame my failures on my health but sometimes, it can’t be helped. I failed woefully in my 100 level and I believe this was because I was sick during my first and second semester examinations. I was going to the exam hall from the clinic. I sat my exams with nothing in head. Why I wouldn’t completely blame this on SCA is because it wouldn’t have been worse if I had studied earlier. Situations like this still happen but I have learnt to prepare ahead for exams. However, my health has improved compared to that time.
“Another way it’s affecting me has to do with practicals and stuffs. My course of study requires being physically fit but I can’t do the things my classmates get to do. I manage to do some but recently, I have been anaemic and I have to excuse myself from a lot of work.”
On the life expectancy, she revealed that her fear has very little to do with SCA except that the rate at which health warriors die lately has been alarming and scary. For her as well, she urged lovers to affirm their genotypes before saying, “I do”. “Love wouldn’t treat sickle cell crisis; love wouldn’t be enough explanation to a sickle cell patient. I am sure you don’t want your children to hate you.” She says.
Meanwhile, irrespective of the lamentable condition of many chronic SCA patients, the matrimonial and financial implications for the family, some young lovers still willfully defy the limitations of their genes. For them, maybe, love covers all. In a related development, 27-year-old Olakunle, single carrier of the abnormal haemoglobin gene disclosed that it took the death of two friends before he decided to end his relationship of five years.
He said, “I was so much in love that we concluded that by the time we were ready to marry, we would find a way. ‘Science would have evolved then,’ I told her. But I started thinking twice when a friend I never knew was unhealthy died as a result of SCA, a member of my unit in the church also died from AVN; then the recent case of Tosyn Bucknor who I so much cherish as a radio personality. Their death made me question my own rationality, my greed to have it all without considering the hate and questions that would come our way if any of our children inherits SS.”
Of course, there are many Olakunle who are yet to repent while there are many SCA patients who are battling to stay alive; there are many whose matrimonial home has been deserted by love because of the anaemic conditions of one or two kids.
In the face of these, the importance of orientation and re-orientation cannot be neglected. Love is not enough reason to bring a child into this world to suffer from fits of sickness all the days of his or her life. Parents need to keep reminding their children that health is wealth. Even those who have been able to foot all the financial demands of an SCA child would wish they could turn back the hand of time.
Similarly, intending couples should patronize certified medical centres to confirm their genotypes. Like the case of one of the respondents above, the medical result had actually said her father was AA until her own double abnormal gene proved otherwise. Testing and re-testing is advisable. Every child deserves to live. However short it may be, no one should be willingly subjected to unhealthy frustrating life.