Confirm your genotype before getting married
For those of us with sickle cell, you know we know it has not been an easy road for us. Today, I want to talk about the issue of relationships. We are at an age where anyone can go into a hospital or clinic and ask for a blood test. So, why would we not do it, and say that with love or by faith, all will be well?
A lot of children have been brought to the world that should not have been born and suffered all through their lives with sickle cell disease, including yours truly. My parents did not do a blood test when they got married and, to be totally honest with you, I resented my mum for that for quite a while.
The reason why I begrudged her so much was because she studied nursing. She told me when I asked her about it that at the time that she was getting married, people did not do blood tests. Fair enough right? But anyone marrying in the 21st century has no excuse. I mean, how can you think of getting married and not do what is called ‘due diligence’. Yes, I was born and I am alive to tell my story but at what cost?
Now that we are in the 21st century, as an individual born ‘out of ignorance’, I would say the risk of giving birth to a child with sickle cell is not worth it or is it? What I mean is that this child might be sick quite a lot when he/she is growing up. The child will lag behind her peers, maybe. The child could die, maybe. There could be many sleepless night for the whole household when this child is sick. I am talking about my personal experience.
So, why would you want to put yourself, your partner, other children, (if you already have children) through this situation? Of course, if you are already married, then you have to deal with the dice that is thrown at you.
However, if you have yet to get married, please do a blood test and if you are diagnosed with sickle cell, then look for someone who is ‘safe’ to marry and don’t take the chance of marrying someone who has any sickle cell trait. Believe me, it is not worth it. As my mum used to remind me, she had to stop working when she gave birth to me because I needed a lot of care, as I was growing up.
My unsolicited advice is, don’t marry without doing a blood test, if you suffer from sickle cell or you have the trait. Ultimately, the choice is yours and I hope you are able to look beyond love and faith in your religion and do what is right for that unborn child of yours.
Yes, you can, as a parent, look after that child, as they are growing up and under your roof. It might cost you your job like it did my mum or not. But that child will grow and leave home and will have to deal with the consequences of having and living with the disorder on their own and that is when the reality and difficulty of the disease sets in.
When I was at home and sick, it was her responsibility to look after me as my mother. Was it not? But I can imagine that it must have been heartbreaking for her to see her daughter always sick. Thank you mum for looking after me as I truly believe if you had not done such a good job when I was regularly, I would not be alive today.
I don’t mean to blame any parent whose child has died from the disorder; please, it was not your fault. With every sickle cell crisis, the result could be death at any time. So anyone who has lost a loved one through sickle cell, as a parent, don’t blame yourself.
I was discussing this with a friend recently and she told me that I could not imagine what it must have been like for my mother, looking after a sick child. Once again, I salute all mothers and fathers out there who have or had a child with sickle cell.
By the way, I have since forgiven my mother, as by not forgiving her, I am the one who would suffer. So, all is well in the Tola Dehinde and mother relationship.
I would like to conclude this column by mentioning some snacks you can eat on the go: pawpaw (rich in vitamin C), watermelon (helps to keep your body hydrated), papaya (rich in vitamins C & b) and boiled egg. Eat duck or quail eggs if you can get it (rich in Iron), pineapple (has a wealth of vitamins, C & B6) and asala, called African walnuts in English ( helps with stress and rich in antioxidants). As someone with sickle cell, always form the habit of carrying a bottle of water with you in order to not get dehydrated.
Until next time, here is wishing you a healthy life and season’s greetings. Do get in touch with me, if you want to on firstname.lastname@example.org and do check out my blog:www.howtolivewithsicklecell.co.uk