In the past, when I felt a vaso-occlusive crisis coming on, my plan was to wait it out. However, I quickly realized that not trying to improve my situation could potentially damage my health. I decided to remedy that by focusing on self-care.
Following are some steps I take to speed up my recovery.
When you’re in pain, you may not be able to do certain things for yourself. It helps to tell someone how you’re feeling so they can help you.
I find that when I’m ill, I need someone to prompt me to eat and take medications. Sometimes I need help making things accessible. I ask people to bring all the things I might need to one room so I don’t have to look for them while I’m in pain.
I don’t like starting with the strongest painkillers I have, so I usually take some Tylenol. If that doesn’t help, I take something a bit stronger, such as codeine. If that doesn’t work, I resort to morphine. Remember, every patient is different, and be sure to consult your doctor before taking any medication.
Hot water bottle
My hot water bottle is my best friend, especially during colder months. Sickle cell crises occur when sticky, sickle-shaped blood cells get stuck in blood vessels, restricting blood flow and depriving the body’s tissues of oxygen. A hot water bottle can aid in pain management by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow. The warmth also distracts from the pain.
Distract yourself from the pain! Do things that make you feel good. When I’m ill, I call a friend, watch something that makes me laugh, listen to music, or sleep.
I love food, but when I’m ill, my appetite is nowhere to be found. This is problematic, as the body needs nutrients. Some medications may require you to eat something first, so it’s important to eat, even when you don’t feel like it.
Staying hydrated should always be a priority, but it should be even more important during a sickle cell crisis. Staying hydrated helps increase blood flow.
The body is weak during a sickle cell crisis. Doing too much can exacerbate the situation. Focus on recovering. If possible, postpone your plans and get your strength back.
Sickle cell crises make me upset and frustrated. I used to compare the difficulties of my life to the seemingly stress-free existence of people without sickle cell. Ultimately, that train of thought did nothing to improve my mindset.
It was only when I consciously changed the way I thought that I was able to look after myself with enthusiasm. I honestly believe that a positive outlook on life, irrespective of what is actually going on, will help you through difficult times. So, to all my sickle cell warriors, keep your head up!
Note: Sickle Cell Anemia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Anemia News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell anemia.