I Want to Get Better at Predicting a Sickle Cell Crisis
In the animated TV series, “One Piece,” a skill called Kenbunshoku Haki lets its users glimpse into the future, allowing them to dodge bullets and punches, and in some instances, even evade death. I think that would be a great power to have with sickle cell disease, particularly when it comes to being able to predict a vaso-occlusive crisis.
I’ve been taking swimming lessons to build up strength around my knees. Toward the end of my last session, I pushed myself to do a full lap from the deep end to the shallow end. Making it from one end to the other should have been a jubilant moment, but it wasn’t. I put too much stress on my body and ended up having a crisis in both of my knees.
I wanted to prove to myself that I could make it to the end of the pool, but I felt only disappointment in myself for pushing too hard and for not having the foresight to see what could happen if I overdid it. I should have stopped myself, because in trying to push myself too far forward, I only went backward.
Some people can push themselves forward too far, even when their body is signaling for them to stop, because they know they will be able to rest and recuperate afterward. But as a person with sickle cell disease, I don’t have that luxury. Understanding the fine line between exerting myself and pushing myself too far is something I still need to work on.
This crisis was a reminder that even after 28 years of living with sickle cell disease, I still make mistakes. I can take comfort in the fact that I’m getting better at avoiding crises, and I’ve learned what many of my triggers are, but I continue to make mistakes. I know it’s OK, and that making mistakes means I’ll have to give myself time to bounce back and recover.
This crisis felt at first like a reason to stop swimming. It seemed reasonable then to believe that I shouldn’t take lessons anymore because doing so left me in pain. But I want to be healthy, and I’m stubborn, so the crisis has instead become a reason to continue. I will keep at it and work to get better at predicting when to stop before a crisis starts.
Who knows? I may develop my own form of Haki!
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