Sickle cell does that in a way, restricts and constricts you.
Today marks my first day (back) at work on my final placement, we have a swanky new office and it’s all very nice. It may also mean my updates may not be as regular as I’d like them be since it’s an accountants busy season which means long and stressful hours. Anyway, for this post I wanted to take it right back to when I first thought about becoming an accountant and the other careers I ruled out (possibly) because of Sickle Cell.
I remember talking to my mom about potential careers and all the things I was considering doing being crossed off one by one. Sickle cell does that in a way, restricts and constricts you. As a kid that’s heartbreaking – you’re supposed to see your future as one big possibility where you can do anything as long as you work hard enough. I was always a smart kid, nothing should have been out of my reach and yet it was.
One option was a teacher but I wouldn’t have been able to watch over the kids at break time because of the cold so that was out. I’d be a pretty bad teacher to be fair, I love kids but I’m also indifferent to their needs and problems – I’d never know the right thing to say to them and the parents would no doubt complain. I was a private tutor for a few years though – and amazing at it I might add – but I guess comparing the two is a lot like comparing babysitting and parenting. Apparently my granddad refused to child proof his house because it’s the kid’s fault if they bump into anything and they should know better. I resonate with that more than a little bit.
I also wanted to be a nurse but all that walking on wards would have ended me I’m sure. My mom is one and I always looked up to her and the concept of helping people. I was crushed when I realised that wasn’t an option for me. But in hindsight, those careers would not have been suited to me. I don’t have the resilience to work those jobs but I would have liked to figure that out for myself rather than Sickle Cell cross it out for me. I think I would have liked to be a Doctor, treat people with my condition, but I definitely do not have the aptitude or patience to study for that many years.
And all this isn’t to say you shouldn’t aim for exactly what you want to be, I’ve settled on a career that I am very passionate about and hope I will love. Everyone should be able to be free to find a career like that, condition or no condition. Theoretically, nothing should stop you from achieving what you want and although it doesn’t quite work like that in practice, I think Sickle Cell is a wholly manageable condition. During my life though, I’ve realised that Sickle Cell means sacrifice and compromise. I’m not sure whether it’s the right attitude to have, so I won’t advocate it, but it’s what worked for me. Once I realised this condition was going to stick with me no matter how much I tried to freeze or dehydrate it, and considered its needs from time to time, I was much better off.
I’ve probably said this before, but it is a fine balance. Sickle Cell cannot and should not be prioritised all the time, but also it is difficult to prioritise yourself constantly at it’s expense. Life is full of risks, and for me that sometimes means going to the shops without a coat or missing a day of medication but when the consequences can be so severe it has to be questioned whether the risks are always worth it.
But times are a-changing, and many workplaces and careers are more aware that people need flexibility and understanding. This is what we need to enable the balance to be maintained, and to ensure anyone, with any condition can do whatever they want to do.
I will add a Gravity joke later I promise