Relocating back to Nigeria after an initial two years in America, there was naturally a slight readjustment period particularly when I started at a new school. I was bullied for having a "fake American accent" and no one really understood my condition it seemed, so I just mostly always kept to myself.
On the first day of school, I had asked this girl to help me buy some food from the cafeteria during lunch as I didn't know where it was, and gave her extra money to get something for herself too. She didn't mind and was kind enough to assist with getting my lunch for the day but after a big thank you, we never really spoke much for a while. I constantly would find myself in the sick bay during free periods from having slight pains or tummy aches, but it was slowly also becoming a safe place away from the class where I was constantly teased. One day, I went to the sick bay as usual and there found the same girl who had helped buy my lunch on the first day of school. We got to talking and I found out that she also suffered from sickle cell anemia. There was a huge bond formed in that moment and Ibukun quickly became my best friend. We had each other's back and life at the new school started getting slightly more bearable. We were best friends battling sickle cell together.
Although we both suffered from the same disease, I noticed we had completely different symptoms. Apart from getting tired and not being able to do stressful activities for long periods of time, I never saw her have a pain crisis.We would both receive blood transfusions because of the anemia and battle with a few minor things that came with the disease but nothing major really happened until one day I noticed she had a sore on her leg. I found out later that it was a leg ulcer, something I had never heard of in my entire life of having sickle cell, but became quickly informed about from her. I would watch her dress and clean the sore from home, and bandage her foot up to go out.
Sometimes she would get so frustrated with the condition and at a point she was almost considering suicide. Ibukun would be in tears and although everyone would try to console her, they didn't really know what she was going through (and to be honest neither did I at the time). But, I was able to relate it to how I feel when I have a bad crisis and stuck in the hospital from the unbearable pain. Ibukun always came to see me during those times (if she wasn't battling pain herself) and I told her I understood what she was feeling but that it would certainly pass. She would soon calm down and that was just one of the ways we supported each other through the years. Ibukun had (and still has) a very strong and almost intimidating personality which came in handy if anyone ever tried to mess with either of us, yet it was interesting to learn that no matter how tough your exterior is, no one is bulletproof. Only both of us truly understood the other's pain and suffering.
I believe we should always support our friends in anyway we can especially if they have an illness we can relate to. Although I had a family of my own supporting me, and a brother who also had sickle cell, there's no such thing as too much support. Even now in adulthood, we are still there for each other when we just want to vent or catch up on some girl talk. She was present at my brother's memorial and said a few words on that day because they had also formed a certain kind of bond of their own. We may both be off doing different things right now but I can honestly say that having a friend who knows exactly what I go through helps me get through the difficult moments. My bestie is always only ever a phone call away when I need her and I am so thankful for her in my life...Best friends with sickle cell!