My earliest memory of having sickle cell was in second grade. It was my first case of acute chest. I was hospitalized for a week, the longest I had ever been admitted. I remember being scared of the IVs and oxygen tubes. After returning to school, I noticed my classmates treated me differently. Some asked a lot of questions, others did not talk to me at all. I did not like the change and decided to ignore it all together.
In third grade, we did a project on diseases and I chose sickle cell. The main fact I learned from the project was sickle cell is a hereditary disease. I remember being mad at my parents. Why did they do this to me? Why was I the only one in the family with sickle cell?
Elementary school was also the first time I felt stigmatized for having sickle cell. One day, a boy backed away as I was walking by him. Confused, I asked why and he told me he did not want to catch my disease. I was mortified, I could not believe how ignorant he was, and I was afraid everyone thought...
KEY WORDSchronic disease self-care self-management quality of life vulnerable populations
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