It was easy to say that I would get screened for Sickle Cell Trait, until I actually scheduled the appointment only to find myself contemplating the cancellation of that appointment. This was the case when I started interning for Tova Community Health Sickle Cell Specialty Center. More concerned for the results than the hemoglobin electrophoresis required to screen my blood, I found myself reluctant to schedule the appointment. However, if I remained ignorant of my own status, I couldn’t advocate for others or express to the community the importance of having self-awareness. Prior to the appointment, I contacted Delaware Newborn Screening to learn if I had already been tested for Sickle Cell Trait considering the administration of this test began in the early 90’s. Unfortunately, no record could confirm this test had been conducted as I was born when the program first originated.
Following the receipt of news that a blood sample had not been collected, the apprehension began to increase. I questioned whether the result was truly necessary information and if I had lived for so long without knowing my status, what was the point of discovering such information now. Dr. Anderson proceeded to explain that as someone who is very active in the gym, it is pertinent to be aware of my status as over-exertion combined with dehydration could trigger an acute crisis (episode of excruciating pain). After acquiring this information, I finally scheduled the appointment, which was quite painless. The phlebotomist drew a sample of my blood to be sent to the lab for a hemoglobin electrophoresis, which evaluates the different types of hemoglobin in the blood. The test had been conducted and the waiting period commenced. The waiting game was probably the worst part of the entire process because during this time I deliberated all of the “what if” scenarios. A few prolonged days passed and the results arrived providing a sigh of relief.
Once I received my results, I felt more self-aware and more empowered that I had chosen to be in control of my health. I had chosen to live a healthier lifestyle and live free from fear of the unknown. During this experience I learned that when it comes to my health surprises can be avoidable. In order to prevent an occurrence, I must remain scrupulously conscious of my health and should anything arise, immediately take action.
Paris Davis, Tova Scholars Intern