For as far as I can remember, I have always known I had Sickle Cell Disease. My dad is a doctor and my mom is a nurse so from a young age I have always understood some basic concepts about the disease. What I did not understand however, was why it had to be me. But I thank God for my life, my family and how far He has brought me as an individual.
This disease does not just affect a person. It also affects their family because when a child is in pain, parents are also in pain. Parents cannot sleep until they ensure that their child is well.
I don’t remember much from my earlier years, but all I know is that I did not fall sick until I entered senior high school. Even though I never had any episodes of crises in my primary and junior high schools, I was limited in my participation in sporting activities, which I understand now, but I did not then, which ten year old boy would understand if you told him he was not allowed to play football?
The difficult part of this disease for me started while I was in senior high school. I attended Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School as a boarder, this is a fairly decent school. However, I had an episode of crises almost twice every term. This made high school very difficult for me because it usually took about a week for me to recover fully and return to school.
Along the way after one such episode, I returned to school from the hospital just to return to the hospital because I started experiencing severe pain in my right hip, I was unable to walk, was taken to a hospital where I was informed that I had developed something known as avascular necrosis of the femoral head which apparently, is a common complication of sickle cell disease where blood supply to the head of the femur in impaired resulting in the death of the femoral head.
I was relieved of my pain, and scheduled for surgery a year after but I had to return to school in crutches. Now some may ask why I was a boarding student in the first place. The answer is simple, I completed junior high school in the northern region where my family stayed at the time and so had no options than to be in the boarding house.
I will leave it to you to imagine the inconveniences and difficulties of going through boarding school with crutches and all the while being in pain. But I did survive, I had my surgery on the 17th of August 2007 at the Effia Nkwanta Hospital in Takoradi. The dead bone was removed and I had to stay at home for about six weeks to recover before I could return to school. However, I still had to return to school with crutches since the limb had not fully healed.
To cut this aspect short it was a very difficult time in my life, I even fell sick before my WASCE biology paper and had to come write the paper from the hospital, but God being so good I was able to make it past these difficulties. I stopped using crutches after senior high school and am now able to walk on my own.
I gained admission to the university of Ghana Medical School after going through one year of biological science. God being so good, the frequency of crises reduced to one crisis a year and I was actually able to excel in most of my exams in medical school. I have gone through six year of medical education and I can say to the Glory of God that I am a medical doctor now.
I just want to conclude by saying that indeed this is a difficult disease to live with for those who have it, but it can be managed. The severity of symptoms vary from person to person, being serious for some and mild for others. This disease does not in anyway limit you from pursuing your dreams and goals. No one determines the limits but you. My life has been difficult, I went through very difficult times but today I am here. If I am here so can you.
For parents please try to know your status and that of your children as this is very helpful. And please consult with a doctor for more information about the condition.
I am thankful to the Lord for how far he has brought me, for without him I do not know where I will be now. I will also like to thank my parents for being there for me every step of the way, finally I will like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Dwamena who helped me through the difficult years in high school and all those who have supported me throughout the years. Thank-you.
Submitted by: Dr Anthony Anemana.
Reviewed and edited by the Sickle Life editorial team.
Dr. Anemana is a person living with Sickle Cell Disease and a real inspiration to many through his selflessness and excellence despite his challenges.
He is the overall best student in Surgery for the University of Ghana School of Medicine and Dentistry, Class of 2015.
My Sickle Life is a series that provides a platform for persons living with sickle cell disease, their relatives, friends and anybody who has experience with the sickle life to share it for the purposes of awareness creation and stigmatization prevention.
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