As someone living with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and being a professional for some years, I learnt a lot of things concerning ‘working healthy’; I would like to share a few of these with you.
1. Be comfortable: wear comfortable shoes and avoid tight clothing. It’s okay to wear high heeled shoes if you can walk in them. It is however wise to take a break from them. So, if you wear them very often like I do, once seated, take off the shoes and exercise your toes. With SCD, anything can trigger your crisis including wearing high heeled shoes which put pressure on your ankles, knees, and hip bone. With a nine to five job, you need to breathe. Putting on tight clothing can block the free flow of blood and put you at risk of having a bad crisis. As much as possible, try to wear clothes that allow for free movement and ultimately, free flow of blood.
2. Stay hydrated and warm. We can’t echo this enough. To avoid having a crisis, it is important to take in a lot of fluid, as much as you are comfortable with. If, however you have a peculiar case like mine where you cannot drink beyond a certain level, then try to stay in cool areas and manage your fluid intake. Avoid extreme heat and cold as both conditions could cause you to have a crisis. In most work environments, the air conditioning system is kept on the entire day. It is important to stay well covered.
3. Speak Out: It is important to inform your supervisor and your team mates of your health status; by doing this you keep them in the loop. Also, they look out for you, especially if they notice anything unusual. I shared office space for quite a while and each time I got a new partner, I would inform them of my sickling status. It did help a lot because then, most of them were conscious of me and they did little things like regulating the air-conditioning system, being careful not to do anything that could cause me a shock and lead to crisis and so on. My supervisor also understood each time I had to be absent from work due to illness.
4. Keep them handy: I would advice you have a batch of your medications with the dosages always on you, either in your medication pouch or even in your personal cabinet at work. This way, with any emergency, people can easily administer first aid before you get to the hospital. I always had the usual Folic acid, B-complex and a regular pain medication on me, and these helped a great deal
5. Eat right: It is very tempting to skip breakfast when you have a whole lot to do and are excited about starting the day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start your day right. Food gives stamina, food is medicinal. As professionals, it is very easy to get carried away with work and not make time for a break. You can nibble on snacks and fruits if this helps.
6. Avoid mental stress: Its not only physical stress that can send you into a crisis. Mental stress could also end up being the worse kind of stress for you as a working warrior. As much as possible, get your work done before the deadlines, this way you save yourself from getting stressed mentally in the bid to meet deadlines. Procrastinating will only end you up in stress. It is advisable to take on what you can handle.