Love and Friendship
“You may feel isolated at times, lonely, burdened, and unbothered; no one can hear or see you unless you’re screaming in pain. The agony rings, yet somehow, people become blind to your ache. It takes that one close friend or family member to truly know what you’re going through. In my most painful crises, I’ve learned who my real friends are. I honor my sickle cell experience because of the lessons it has taught me. Not everyone handles illness as you do; some may never experience any type of disease or even set foot in a hospital. Living with sickle cell disease, I’ve learned that every friend will not understand the illness; you may even lose friends because of it, but regardless, I am grateful for the friends I have.
One of the lessons that sickle cell has taught me is the art of friendship; I’d say my most significant relationships start from having a sickle cell crisis. When I was a freshman in college, another student saw me limping and asked what happened. I told her I had sickle cell and was in pain. She immediately became concerned, wanted to know more, and took me to the hospital. I was miles away from home, and here was this stranger who barely knew who I was, and yet she still advocated for me. Her heart was in the right place, and I grew to value her friendship. I was only eighteen, and it was my first-time maneuvering adult care. She was like a sister to me, we became friends, and I started to rely on her to take me to the hospital, and she always came through, even if she had to borrow a friend’s car. She would even stay with me in the hospital until I was all set, and if they treated me wrong, she would argue. Until I was eighteen and went to school, my parents or other families were the only caretakers I had. I was grateful to have met her; she advocated for me in my time of need from the love of her heart. I left that school due to sickle cell complications and attended a school closer to home a year later. But I did meet a group of friends.
In autumn of the fall semester, I encountered a strange case related to sickle cell where my head was swollen. I couldn’t eat or talk. I had never experienced a crisis like this, my friends came to visit me, yet they didn’t know what sickle cell was. As they saw me on the bed, they started to cry. It was the first time I’d seen friends’ cry. I wanted to tell them I was fine, but I couldn’t speak due to my swollen head. It was there I realized how much they loved and cared for me. To this day, we are still friends who I consider family. When you have sickle cell, a lot of people will react differently. Whenever I am in crisis, I feel like the most hideous, ugliest person, and honestly don’t want anyone to look at me, but when I get that visit from a friend, even if it’s a facetime, it always warms my heart. I am genuinely grateful for the people I’ve met and the friends I have, and most importantly, the lessons that sickle cell has taught me. The art of friendship goes beyond compatibility, but the appreciation, the love they have for you, regardless of how you live and what you experience.”
-Kadeem, SCD Warrior