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The Morning After!

I made the wake up list! I'm 34 and 1 day! My birthday yesterday was filled with so much excitement. I spent it with people that mean the most to me! This birthday was meaningful because it was truly a celebration of life. This month last year, I spent my birthday in the hospital recovering from a Sickle Cell Crisis and an accidental overdose that almost killed me.

For those who don't know, Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic (mostly African Americans then Hispanics) red blood cell disorder in which there aren't enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body. Normal red blood cells are round, smooth and move around through blood vessels. Mine are crescent-shaped, rigid, and get stuck. Because of this, they get stuck in my small blood vessels. This can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of my body causing pain: No oxygen equals pain!

PAIN... I've experienced pain I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. In my eyes, the pain is indescribable. Many other "Warriors" (what people with Sickle Cell usually refer themselves as) describe it as getting beat repeatedly with a baseball bat, having an elephant sitting on your chest, or just someone stabbing you repeatedly in the same spot.

As I'm writing this, I'm sitting and getting a treatment. This has become a part of weekly life. I get infusions, Chemo (Adakveo), and Apheresis to stay healthy. I also use meds and essential oils in my daily routine too. My healthcare team is amazing. It's huge and diverse, but 60 percent of my doctors look like me. It's important to me to have people on my team who understand my illness, considering it primarily afflicts African Americans.

Last year before I was hospitalized, I left my job. I recently told a friend "It's a different type of feeling being free" I was there for 13 years, so leaving was one of the hardest decision I ever had to make. I worked my butt off every day, teaching and caring for students and families. My attachment to that place was like a soul tie; so much so that now I'm actually back at that job, but I work two days a week for THREE hours. Lol. Dassit..🤣 This transition made me realize I’m truly free. I was driving home teary because I'm legit free from all the bull. I'm not confined to a job. I'm legit living. FINALLY!!! I mean Sickle Cell kicks my butt from time to time, but I fight back! If I'm asked to work, I can... if I want to! Having this freedom I never felt before is everything! ❤

I'm finally learning how to cope with Sickle Cell and my anxiety around it, with the help of my dope, brown, Licensed Mental Health Counselor. We've worked hard this past year to get me right! Y'all get y'all some therapy! It's life changing. There's a difference between coping and just living with a chronic illness and I’m finally coping. So here's to year 34; on this morning after, I'm thankful for the skills I've gained to COPE, life, this platform and for Warriors worldwide. Let’s take it up a notch!

Warrior Ash ❤

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