Wednesday, November 4, 2009
My Cells are Stemming
Goodluck Jezebel, safe journey, I will keep you in my prayers…words stuck in my head like that annoying tune you cant get off your mind. This has been such a big deal for the past six months. There were times I questioned the authenticity of the procedure, there were times I told myself that I was born this way for a reason…a genuine one. I even convinced myself at some point that altering my genetic construction would mean re-writing my entire existence and its core. In July of 2008, I was made an offer that I would only be stupid to refuse…I was offered stem cell transplant on a platter of gold! For free!!!
A procedure that had its pros and cons, but after eight times in a hospital ward, those cons seemed to look less threatening. I just wanted a normal life. One where my friends didn’t have to drive me to the hospital every other month, one where all my assignments didn’t have to be so difficult to complete and my professors didn’t have to roll their eyes at my now seemingly flimsy excuses…. “yes Jezebel, we know…you were sick again!” Yes! Please!!! Stem my cells!!! Anything to stop this pain and shame…no more sickle cells, no more hospital beds, no more dilaudid (although I must admit, the dilaudid was heavenly, right next to crack!). I just want to be normal. The excitement I felt as I got on that plane to London was indescribable, I couldn’t wait, but I was nervous at the same time.
Three days later, the doctor called me; the procedure would be at his house, in his bedroom (out the gutter now!). As I approached the room, I began to experience a montage of flashbacks of those times that would finally be put behind me, those sleepless and pain filled nights would finally be over. I “received” my healing which came in a syringe that quite frankly could not make a toddler flinch. “Is that it?” I thought to myself! The doctor looked at me and said “congratulations, in three months or so, you will be crises free.” I pulled up my pants and went home…anticipating March!
Three months later, and I had been in the hospital twice already, my excuse? “oh, my cells are still stemming.” Fourth month, fifth month, sixth month and the hospital visits increased. With every hospital visit, it became harder to find blood donors with no antibodies…it became excruciatingly difficult to tolerate the pain and my life saw itself in a whole different light. “walai, ko ni da fun doctor yi”…my aunty said repeatedly, as if he tied me down and forcefully injected me. This was my choice, my decision…I saw an opportunity and I took the chance, but in situations like this, it is always easier to blame someone else for our surprising outcome of events.
I look around and I wonder why this “treatment” worked for the other person, the thought that perhaps this was my “destiny” drove me to that junction, where determination was all I had left; The determination to “fight” for what was left of my infirmity, resulting to “popping” prescription pills as an attempt to numb the pain while I patiently waited for the “stemming” to be completed. The doctor said “three months” and it is November...eleven months later and I choose to remain optimistic, afterall, the worst that could happen would be? Pardon my tone, forgive my syntax or my appearance of being an emotional wreck; indulge my confidence and applaud my honesty. Sickle cell is a disease that affects many “Black” people and everyday, we hope for the cure…one that works, one that eases. Till then, I explore all emotions. They say you experience five basic emotions, I still await the emotion of death…oh, you didn’t know? Death is an emotion. You don’t believe me? Slit your wrist and feel the rush…from my stemming cells.