Sickle cell’s past, present examined

By Clarissa Carreon/reporter

People with sickle cell feel like they have a cold or the flu on a daily basis, and there isn’t a bone in their body that doesn’t hurt momentarily, TR nursing instructor DeLeon Addison said during a speech Feb. 15 on TR Campus.

“No matter how much medicine was given to these patients, their pain level stays the same,” Addison said.

These people suffer because the disease intensifies if nothing is done, and eventually they have to quit living their same lifestyle, she said. There have been people in these circumstances who quit their job and depend on others due to their lack of strength and because they need medical help to keep pushing through.

“Sickle cell originated from West Africa, but now there are over 70,000 people in the U.S. that have inherited the gene,” Addison said.

Often patients are given a lot of medicine like morphine, but they feel like nothing is taking their pain away.

“Many people with sickle cell are now taking recreational drugs, such as heroin or anything that can be injected because of the relaxation effect,” Addison said.

Sickle cell forms crescent moon-shaped cells, which causes abnormal blood flow. This causes the pain.

“The only true way to get rid of sickle cell is through bone marrow transplant,” Addison said. “The only way to control it would be eating healthy, hydration and exercising.”

TR pre-med student Raniya Yousuf said she attended the speech because her class is studying blood diseases. She did not expect to leave with a different outlook on life.

“I was in internship and we had a girl that was in her 20s,” Yousuf said. “She was in a lot of pain and kept wanting more medicine, but the nurses kept telling her they had already gave her some and they couldn’t give her anymore. I honestly didn’t know how to help her.

She said this speech helped her understand more about sickle cell and that she felt it was an underrated disease.

TR nursing instructor Mary Blue said it once took an entire team to save a pregnant patient of hers with sickle cell. Her unborn baby could have been affected, too. Just like most of the audience, she also believes there should be more done with this disease.

“It should be taught just as much as diabetes, heart disease and other diseases out there are promoted,” Blue said.