Health, Relationships

What Would You Do If Sickle Cell Anemia Threatens to Complicate Your Simple Love Stories

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“Let me die,” that was what nine-year-old Abiye said to me as I sat down beside her bed to give her the next dose of ibuprofen in the bid to reduce her pain levels as much as possible. This was her 3rd admission in the space of a year and maybe her 7th or 8th since she was diagnosed. She had lost count. I watched her clench her teeth as the pain came again; she made no effort to conceal her tears.“I wish I was not born, this is too much…”

“Sometimes I wish I was not born, this is too much…”I hugged her and allowed her to cry. It was one thing she could choose to do herself. She definitely did not choose to be a sickle cell anemia patient. She was suffering the consequences of her parent’s decision to get married despite foreknowledge of their genotypes; AS and AS.

I hugged her and allowed her to cry. It was one thing she could choose to do herself. She definitely did not choose her life. She was suffering the consequences of her parent’s decision to get married despite foreknowledge of their genotypes; AS and AS. She looked smaller than her age, thin with long arms and fingers and a beauty worth staring at. Her English was perfect and her mannerisms reflective of her rich family with high social standards. She got all the care needed during all her crisis which was not the same for her other suffering friends.

Her parents had been close friends for years having known each other since they were little. Their families often joke about their future marriage and how perfect it would be. Life happened at some point and they separated her father to Canada and her mother to Ghana. They came back years later, well-educated and still madly in love. Preparations for their wedding commenced in earnest.

The local church asked both of them to have genotype tests. The results came like a shock wave to them all. It had never occurred to either of them. They just assumed. They both knew the possible implications; every conception had the 25% risk of being a sufferer. All their children might ‘escape’, all might be ‘trapped’, it might be 50-50 and it could just be one of them… which was Abiye’s case. She was sandwiched between two healthy siblings, ‘Normal’ siblings. For her parents, it had been a battle of survival as being in and out of hospitals more often than even some doctors definitely had its toll on their marriage. Before marriage, they had teased that their love was stronger than any sickler’s crisis.

This was gradually proving to be wrong as their annoyance, irritability, guilt and blame-game were not child’s play. Their other children were not spared from the constant hospital feature in Abiye’s life. Her parents were prepared to give and spend all. But were they ready to grant her wish for death?

What we all want is Love

 More than anything, we all wish to find love that would last a lifetime. We want to be with that person without whom we are empty. But we sometimes forget that marriage goes beyond the two lovebirds unless there is an agreement not to have children. The husband get’s castrated or the wife ties her fallopian tube for such an. As long as children would feature someday, certain things like genotype compatibility should not be taken for granted. Of course, unexpected things sometimes happen to those with compatible genotypes. But, eating pepper soup with your eyes wide open is taking a great risk with knowledge of the possible consequences. Yes, some couples are lucky and all their children are healthy and normal. Yes, some have sickle anemic children and they are managing well. The question is if you and your love are not lucky, and your child or all your children are sufferers; can you bear to watch them go through all that? Would you be able to provide for all their needs health wise? Can your marriage stand in the face of such a storm? Can you not avoid it? Think about it.

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Eunice Oladeji

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