Sickle Cell Crisis is one of the most painful episodes a person who has SCD goes through. It is often times a sudden occurence but at other times, certain things could trigger it. Crises happen because some of the red blood cells in sicklers are curved (instead of round) and hard and as a result don't move around as easily. They then get stuck in the small blood vessels of the chest, stomach and joints and that is when there is crisis.
The severity and longevity of the pain varies with different people and different crisis. For my brother, he would often get very severe pains in his joints that would last for hours; and at other times the pain would be manageable and not last as long. There were times when the crisis would suddenly just hit him but again, at other times it would be precipitated by some form of stress he was under or a prior illness. He had come to know when an episode was near because he would begin to feel tired, weak and suffer headaches. During these times, he would be sure to have his pain medication on hand, increase his fluid intake and just rest. We could manage the pain sometimes at home and at other times, he would need to go to the hospital to get stronger pain meds until the pain was under control. Needless to say, we were always very worried for him (and my sister) because his job at the time was stressful, he was extremely socially active and would rarely give himself time to rest. I remember my mom would often get frustrated with him when it seemed like he was over extending himself; my brother was quite stubborn and did not like to feel limited because he suffered from sickle cell disease and so I suppose I understand why it seemed sometimes like he was doing too much.
My sister's crisis when she was younger, was more in her stomach and I remember her being in the most excruciating pain. It would be so debilitating that she would not be able to function in any capacity whatsoever. We came to find out later that she had a stomach full of gall stones and had to have them removed immediately. I remember my mom telling us the doctor who treated her was astonished at how long she had spent going through this pain or that the doctor who was overseeing her health had not figured it out sooner. As she has gotten older though, her crises have manifested in other serious ways still. She is still being closely monitored and we continue to pray for her everyday.
Crisis and Pain is really a heartbreaking thing for everyone involved and while I'm still figuring out how treatment works here (not just medically) but in Nigeria, a lot still needs to be done in terms of medical treatment and social perception of the disease. We seem to almost be alienating our brothers and sisters and this is not healthy for sicklers themselves, their families and the society at large. I hope we do better and my goal one day is to be the change I want to see in my country.
Thanks for stopping by guys.