Oscar, 20, was born with Sickle Cell Disease, a condition that affects red blood cells (sickle cell anemia) and blockage of blood flow causing pain. The pain is often so severe; patients suffer painful bouts known as sickle cell crisis and often require hospitalization.
For Oscar, pain has been a part of life since he was a little boy. He recalls how everyday childhood activities were overshadowed by his condition.
“I missed school constantly, was not able to do much physical activity, and missed out on my friends’ birthday parties. I would always have to take classwork and homework to the hospital to avoid falling seriously behind,” he said.
Although Oscar endured bouts of pain and frequent hospitalization, he learned how to cope with his condition and manage his pain. “With sickle cell, you have to do all that you possibly can to stay as healthy,” he said.
Here are Oscar’s tips for SCD patients on how to manage pain:
- First, ensure you have a support system or someone to come to. Oscar credits his amazing support system, which includes his parents, close friends and doctors. "It is always helpful to have a support system and to have people listen to when you need it."
- Another important step is to take prescribed medications correctly and on time.
- Oscar says distractions played an important role in keeping him comfortable and entertained, especially during hospitalization. "Kids need something to distract themselves when they are in pain or going through a crisis. A distractor keeps your attention somewhat away from the pain. Even if it is just a little relief, it is still something," he said.
- Oscar’s newest pain management mechanism, focusing on his college studies and future goals. He is studying to become a meteorologist and also plans to travel the world. "My future goals keep me focused. They are my motivation to stay healthy and push forward," said Oscar.
“I hope that we will soon have a safe and reliable cure for Sickle Cell Disease, so that everyone with this condition can life how they want and have good health. In the meantime, I hope these tips help other kids going through similar circumstances,” said Oscar.