When you are a Sickle cell person, there are several skills and adaptation techniques that you learn. It is such skills/acquisitions that help in situations where the difficulties seem insurmountable. And two of these skills are the ability to do or engage in proper and diligent introspection and a very acute attention to detail.
Introspection involves looking inward, listening inward, or observing inward, one’s bodily mechanisms or functions. Introspective assessment of yourself is very helpful. It allows you to know if you are going to have a crisis or if you are going to collapse at a public gathering. It allows you to know if you should take a rain check from that fun party or if you should disembark from that school tour.
An effectively honed skill of introspection will tell you when to stop drinking with friends and start heading home, when to leave that pool and get yourself wrapped up, when you should allow for a warm water bath (even though you are late for work), when you should stay away from outdoor activities, when you should focus on the important stuff and when you should just prepare to fight a crisis that is inevitable (because some are).
With the right introspective perspective a student has less difficulty in knowing when to say no to continuous study group discussions, when to forfeit certain lectures for his or her own safety (because you will) and when to walk away from school projects that will cause your health in very distressing ways.
With the right introspection, a partner knows that not all social events should be attended, that not all invitations should be honored, and that saying no sometime tells more of your love for the people you turn down. (because some will feel the worse guilt should your crisis be as a result of an activity that they cajoled you into doing). Introspection is vital to us, and every person with this condition should find better ways of honing his or her skill at it.
Attention to detail is closely linked with introspection. It is the identification or knowledge of minute details that people will ordinarily gloss over. Attention to detail is so important to a Sickle cell person. Combined with introspection (since the two are most often inseparable), attention to details tell you that your sitting position in a particular car could have been the cause of your back ache, that your over-exposure to a fan or AC at work, office or a lecture hall could have been the reason for your brewing body discomfort, that a drug you took could have spark off that reaction, that a food you took or that drink you sampled at the party was the cause of your problem.
Attention to details will tell you more than your spouse or partner can, could verify things for you more than your doctor will and could save you the severe pains of a crisis.
With an effectively honed attention to details, the student sees linkages or relationships between concepts that others might not, the worker sees correlations between projects and their impacts that colleagues might not, and many others.
Armed with introspection and attention to detail, a Sickle cell person can make projections with, sometimes, surgical precision; can interact with various concepts and ideas that are difficult; manage people with less difficulty but with efficient productivity from them, and lead with less strenuous challenges.
I can elaborate on the non-negotiable importance of these two skills, but I’ll end here. I hope someday you read about it in our expansive book on the condition.
But take these skills seriously and hone or sharpen your efficiency at them. They make people say that Sickle cell persons are brilliant and smart. It’s no magic. It’s rather introspection and attention to detail.
Torgbui Sipho Michael is a person with sickle cell disease. He writes, on different subjects across different scope, and shares his time reading, volunteering at Maranatha Community School and offer teaching lessons to many students.
He is also a public speaker, motivational speaker and sickle cell advocate. He has written an over 250-page book on the condition of sickle cell disease, awaiting publication.
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