Sickle Cell Disease is no excuse! I went to the university of Michigan for my electives! The head of the neurosurgery department is a woman who has never walked! She is in a wheel chair! She has spina bifida…
Strong words from a colleague, one I respect a lot. She is helping me with preparations for my end of surgery rotation exams, which by the way, are just next week. She couldn’t quite understand why I seemed so unconcerned about my upcoming exams. Considering, I’ve missed a lot of school due to ill health and I still am, due to ‘aggressive physiotherapy’ totally messing up my schedule.
I’m broken. The drive is lost. A lot has happened in the past, but nothing has ever gotten to me so much. I am even surprised at myself. Everyone says, let go of this already, but I just can’t. Sickle cell has never been, and is still not an excuse for me. I am the kind of person who goes all out. Gives a-hundred-and-ten-percent when I am healthy, just so, if I happen to be unwell, I don’t bother about missing school and such. That’s me!
In recent times however, there has been a change. The genesis? End of medicine rotation exams. Yeah! That was one terrible time for me. Of the 12 week medicine rotation, you could say, I was only fully present for 4 weeks. My body started acting up. I knew I was unwell, just couldn’t put a finger on it. Frustrating, that’s what it was. Started seeing my doctors. Diagnosis? Relapse of pneumonia, right through exacerbation of bronchitis secondary to asthma to rib infarcts. Everything and anything.
Every diagnosis came with a new set of drugs. Went through the normal antimalarial, analgesics, antibiotics (from co-amoxiclav to levofloxacin), steroids( both prednisolone and symbicort pump and oh, I don’t even have asthma, did all the tests to prove that). Did xrays, lab tests, everything, I was still sick and in the end, my body just gave up. We had had enough.
One Friday, while doing what I usually do, stay on the wards after-hours to clerk patients, the ‘doctor’ became the patient. Excruciating back pain and there, I had my very own bed with my patients on my floor. Monday morning, my colleagues, consultants, literally my whole class knew I was on admission (I wasn’t amused). Was there for about a week in excruciating pain, and for the first time pethidine was not touching my pain.
Exams were approaching, and I needed to be out of there already. The pain meds were not working, my lab results looked good, there was no point keeping me there, so I was out. Exams in two weeks with an excruciating pain in my right shoulder (I am right handed), we resorted to an intra-articular steroid injection. Worked like magic. My joy was however short-lived.
Few days later, what do you know? Hip pain. Worst ever. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’ll say, we need a bigger scale.No kidding! Good thing, I did pharmacology, I know how to work my meds (no am not a drug addict, I take drugs because I need them). 100mg diclofenac was not touching my pain, and I wasn’t about to get re-admitted in under a week of discharge especially so, with exams staring me in the face.
So, I was limping around school. those were hard times. Now, we know it was the avascular necrosis of the femoral head. I did not know then. I would have probably ‘made reservations for a bed’ in the emergency room. Being the driven student that I am/was I went to the wards in my worst pain ever to examine patients and be the doctor. Though I more than anyone needed doctors at that time.
Then the day of the exam came…