Bear ye one another’s burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ. -Galatians 6:2
Studies have shown that pain becomes easier to bear with the comfort and presence of loved ones. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body but for people living with sickle cell, theirs is the shape of a sickle and this explains the name. The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. This means they do not have enough blood in their system.
The main symptoms of sickle cell disorder are anemia and bouts of chronic, excruciating, severe, harrowing, extreme, and unbearable pain. It is when the red blood cells stick together, causing blockages in the small blood vessels that this pain is felt. The sickled red blood cell can stick or clot together at any time. There is no medical cure for the disease, but it is managed by medication, blood transfusion, or in extreme cases, bone marrow transplant.
People living with sickle cell are usually in and out of the hospital. They sometimes learn how to manage themselves to reduce hospital visits.
Here are five practical ways to support people living with sickle cell:
- Don’t be in denial: There’s honestly no good in trying to pretend that they do not have this condition. It is what it is. Don’t adopt the denial culture, rather let them be open with you and listen passionately as they express their feelings and fears.
- Express and show care patiently: It will never always be about money. You care? Yes. Then express it. Call as often as possible. People who are frequently going through pain may sometimes behave aggressively, so you must put on your cloak of kindness.
- Pray for them: You’d be serving as a big succulent support pillow if you understand that though you do not feel the pain, it is extremely pin-piercing, they’re not “forming.” And because of this truth, pray fervently and passionately for their relief, healing, and health. Sing hymns to them virtually or beside them. Encourage them to make positive confessions regularly, especially from the Bible.
- Be there: The frequent pains that people living with sickle cell experience can limit their movements. Being there for them includes helping them get their prescriptions from the pharmacy. This is a real way to get involved in the life of a dear one who is going through pain. It is doing for them what they’d find difficult or impossible to do at that point.
- Love, love, and love: Show them love. Love is the most potent force. Avoid any form of discrimination or excess show of pity. A health challenge is not the end of life. Allow and encourage them to express and maximize their gifts and their potential. Support their life visions and celebrate crisis-free moments with them.
To end sickle cell disease, intending couples are advised to carry out a blood test to determine their sickle-cell status and compatibility to produce sickle-cell-free babies. Taking out time to read this article very likely says a lot about your concern for sickle cell patients. Sickle-cell disease is a complex health challenge but you can help decapacitate it and be a source of comfort. Shalom!