Sickle Cell has left behind a few scars on my sister as I'm sure it has with many other sufferers and just at the age of 25, she has sadly physically gone through a lot. She only just recently again came home from yet another crisis episode after a few days in hospital where it was discovered that she had developed a 4.8cm large sized ovarian cyst. Thankfully, it is not at the point where her doctors were concerned about a torsion (a situation where the weight of the cyst causes the ovaries to flip over which results in significant pain in the lower abdomen) but have her on scheduled observations and meds to avoid an emergency situation.
Prior to this recent occurence, she has suffered through lots of other health complications that have left physical scars on her including gallstones, leg ulcer, a stroke and severe tremors to mention but a few. Online, there are many images that depict what some of these scars look like and I would like to share just a few of what hers did actually look like when she experienced some of these complications I speak of. Some images are not very clear due to the fact that they were taken some time ago so apologies for that and of course as per the above warning, some of the images could be slightly disturbing so please skip past if you are squirmish like I am.
Gallstones: In 2013 was when she had to go in for emergency surgery to remove the gallstones that had accumulated in her gall blader. I can only imagine the amount of pain she was in and even the doctors at the time were astounded by the amount of stones there were and attested that they had never seen a case where there were that many at one time. They ended up having to take out her entire gall bladder because the stones were just too many and when the stent that was put in its place also got infected 2 years later, that had to be removed as well. She's got about 3 scars on her stomach area where the doctors went in to have the operation.
Leg Ulcer: This was a chronic complication she developed when she was younger that took several months before healing successfully. She had to have it treated and dressed regularly to avoid gangrene and I remember it being a painful and uncomfortable time in her life that had her in tears every time she had to get it dressed.
Just like the information depicts, the ulcer started out looking like an insect bite until it progressively got bigger, more painful and would not heal in time. Of course we later learned that what she was experiencing was a complication of sickle cell and prayed that it wouldn't take too long before it healed. Thank God it eventually did and now the spot on her leg that had the ulcer barely carries a scar.
I tried to get a clearer image of what hers looked like from one of her old blackberry phones but was unable however this image was what I could find that could adequately depict what her ulcer looked like as it started to heal.
Stroke/Mediport: In 2016, she suffered a silent stroke, which pretty much means that she didn't even realize she was having one. She had merely called her nurse to complain at the time of the difficulty she was experiencing with writing and typing on her laptop when she was advised to go straight to the E.R. It was there she was confirmed to have been indeed suffering a stroke and she wasn'tt even aware of it. This led to the need for regular blood transfusions and because the doctor did not want to keep sticking her with needles each time, she needed a mediport to help with that. The port is implanted under the skin and is accessed by a huber needle anytime blood/fluid is being transfused.
It hasn't been an easy journey for her because being a sickle cell patient has left her with physical and emotional scars that will stay with her possibly forever. We encourage her never to see these scars as anything ugly or to be ashamed of but to consider them as marks of the warrior that she is and continues to be.
The point/purpose of sharing these images is to show you just a glimpse of what sufferers go through from a physical point. The crisis and pain is one thing but when actual scars are left behind, it can take an emotional toll and if managed improperly, could compound the long list of complications they already suffer. Keep showing love and support to any sickle cell warrior you know or around you for it really does allow them feel a sense of normalcy and that they are no different from the rest of us.
Thanks as always for visiting and please keep coming back.