Imagining a Life Without Sickle Cell Reminds Me of My Accomplishments

Columnist Dunstan Nicol-Wilson envisions how life would be without chronic illness

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by Dunstan Nicol-Wilson |

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Recently, while on a long journey, I rewatched one of my favorite movies, “Inception.” I find the concept of the film unique; in short, it’s about manipulating someone’s subconscious or dreams to create a strong idea or obtain information. Our dreams and desires are powerful forces that can alter the course of who we become.

One recurring dream of mine is wondering what life would be like without sickle cell disease. When a sickle cell crisis takes over, or when I’m suffering from fatigue, I sometimes dream about an alternate version of myself. In this reality, I was never born with hemoglobin S and instead am the owner of healthy red blood cells.

How does sickle cell affect my daily life? What would my daily routine look like if I indulged in this escapism?

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Here are some of my thoughts: When I wake up, I wouldn’t be so exhausted, and there would be no more fatigue. I wouldn’t have to perform a mental evaluation of how my body feels and what kind of pain I’m experiencing. At breakfast, there wouldn’t be a cocktail of vitamins and supplements to help me get through the day.

I’d live my life with fewer consequences for irresponsible actions. Looking ahead at my day, I’d have no concerns about the weather forecast. If it’s too hot, I wouldn’t be concerned about my water intake or dehydration. Likewise, not being warm enough wouldn’t lead to a crippling crisis.

There would be no fear of pushing past my limits in this world, as my mental limitations would not exist. In my current reality, past experiences with sickle cell crises have limited how much I push myself, out of fear of a potential crisis. Without sickle cell, I could smash through these limits and be free to exercise more heavily or participate in other demanding activities.

I wouldn’t need frequent checkups with my doctor, and I’d be blissfully unaware of potential complications or the slow breakdown of my body. My life would be free of hospital admissions and the traumatic experience of being hospitalized while traveling abroad. There would be no financial burden of paying for my prescriptions.

There would also be no awkwardness in deciding when to tell someone I have sickle cell disease. Making new friends and other relationships would be a little easier. There would be no fear of judgment or unrealistic expectations from people in my circle because of a chronic condition. There also would be no need to know whether a potential partner has sickle cell or the sickle cell trait. Finally, family planning would be less complicated without the complexities of genetics to worry about.

All of this sounds amazing, but I realize that life without sickle cell would never be this simple. This fantasy version of myself would still have limits and hardships to face. My experiences have led me to being who I am today. Without sickle cell, would I be as motivated and driven as I am now? Probably not.

As I snap back to the real world, all of this serves as a reminder of my accomplishments, and it certainly helps to keep me grounded.


Note: Sickle Cell Disease 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 Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell disease.

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