Survivor Spotlight - See Me
By: Traci N. Ross
See me, is a thought I constantly replayed in my mind as I sat in my doctor's office or in the hospital. Living with the pain of sickle cell is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. For many years I was in and out of the hospital for weeks at a time, due to a sickle cell crisis. I was constantly referred to as a "sickler." A word that I strongly dislike. No one wants to be referred to as a symptom of their medical condition. I am more than the sum total of the symptoms this disease/illness has brought upon my body.
I know I am not the only person living with sickle cell that has ever felt this way.
The medical community and people in general should not categorize people in this way. For years I felt ashamed and depressed because I felt I was never being heard or seen. They merely saw me as a sickler and their goal was to simply throw medicine at the sickler. Anytime I would go to the doctor, every symptom I had besides a common cold was somehow magically linked to sickle cell.
"NO! NO! NO!" I would be shouting within myself. "Please just see me. Hear me."
The experience that hurt me the most is when my original hematologist retired and I began seeing another doctor in the practice, whom many people thought was a great doctor for sickle cell patients. Well I strongly beg to differ. He came into the examination room, asked me what medications I was on, left out of the room, sent his nurse in with a stack of prescriptions and my encounter form to check out. I was so dumbfounded; I asked when was he going to examine me because he only asked about my meds not me.
After expressing my concerns and displeasure to the nurse, the doctor returned, quickly examined me and stated, "Nothing generally changes with sicklers, I figured all you wanted was your medicine."
Needless to say, I left out of that office feeling an array of emotions; angry, disappointed, helpless, hopeless and discouraged. As I began praying about the situation and speaking to family members, I vowed to never have someone in charge of my health that could not see me beyond a diagnosis.
I am a human being, a woman, a child of God, a mother, and so much more. My name is Traci N. Ross and I am a woman who happens to have been diagnosed with sickle cell disease.
I am not this disease and it will not define me...so when you enter my room,