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The Unseen Fight

Sickle Cell Disease is a life-threatening blood disorder. It is the most common genetic disorder in the world. Sickle Cell disease affects about 100,000 people in the United States and 20 million people worldwide.

Sickle Cell Disease is a life-threatening blood disorder. It is the most common genetic disorder in the world. Sickle Cell disease affects about 100,000 people in the United States and 20 million people worldwide.

Sickle Cell is normal in my everyday life. I was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia at the age of three months. I also have a younger brother who also suffers from this disease as well. I’ve been dealing with this disease all of my life and have been told plenty of times that I wouldn’t make it. The event I’ll be writing about is by far the worst thing I’ve ever gone through and I’ve also learned much while overcoming this event.

Sickle Cell affects the whole body because it is a disease that affects the blood. The most common side effects are pain, fatigue, and anemia. Due to these side effects, I had an enlarged spleen because my spleen thought that my sickle-shaped blood cells were a sign of an infection. On July 23rd, 2018, I was admitted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and scheduled for surgery on July 24th,2018, and was anticipating going home on July 25th. So much for making plans because what came next we never expected.

Now it is surgery day. My surgery was supposed to be at nine a.m. It was then pushed back to one p.m. My parents were told that my surgery would be two to three hours long. My parents became a little worried after hour four because they didn’t hear from the surgeons so they started thinking the worst. Eventually, the surgeons came out and talked to my parents and told them that I had some complications with the surgery.

The first issue with the surgery was that the general anesthesia that I was put under

wasn’t strong enough to the point that I woke up during the procedure, not only did I wake up I also started having an asthma attack. So now I had to get a breathing treatment and have to be re-sedated, all while my incisions in my abdomen were still open. The surgery ended up lasting 8 hours, The surgeons stated my spleen was the size of an adult male so it was a lot larger than they expected it to be.

After surgery I was fine. I was moving around on my own and even ate a bit. Fast-forward to around 11 pm I was in the most excruciating pain I had ever felt in my life. Next thing I knew I was being rushed into the ICU. The doctors stated that I had an ileus (a huge air bubble caused by anesthesia) that was the size of a football covering my abdomen and part of my lungs. I could barely breathe and now I was having a Sickle Cell pain crisis in my lungs. I was put on oxygen and was getting worse by the minute. I was alert but not speaking because everything was hurting too badly. While in the ICU the doctors were hopeless telling my parents they weren’t sure if I’d get any better, They started talking about putting in a chest tube. All of a sudden I started vomiting my bowel so now the doctors are confused. They scheduled me for an MRI later that day which would show pictures of my stomach. During the MRI they saw that my pancreas was leaking fluids, so I was then rushed into an emergency surgery to get a stent placed. After the surgery, I was placed on a Nasogastric tube which was a tube that went through my nose and was sucking all the gas out of my abdomen. I then ended up having to have another surgery within the same week because the first stent didn’t work so I had to get another one placed. I was in the ICU for a total of ten days sitting staring and not talking. My parents and siblings were by my side every day I was in the hospital. They were really scared because it was not normal for me not to talk. I was no longer in critical care after those ten days but still very sick, I made it back to the normal floor and was there for a couple more weeks. I missed the first week of my freshman year at a new school, but I finally got out of the hospital after a total of thirty-four long days.

After a week of recovering I attempted to go to school a couple of times and was unable to stay the whole day because the pain was unbearable and I was still vomiting everything I would try to put on my stomach. I had lost a lot of weight and became insecure because of how little I was in height and weight. I couldn’t eat so I was just losing weight by the day. I had a follow-up appointment with the surgeon because I wasn’t getting any better. I was now becoming depressed because I didn’t feel normal anymore. The surgeon didn’t have too many answers for me until her team did another study on my abdomen and they saw that I had something going on with my bowel. The surgeon came into my room and told me that I’d need to head over to the main hospital to have emergency surgery again because she sewed a piece of my bowel into the incision under my stomach. Here we are on surgery number four in less than thirty days. I had the surgery and was in the hospital for maybe a week and was out for a week before I had to go back to have surgery number five. I was in the hospital for five days for final surgery. The end of August and the beginning of September came and I started to feel like my usual self. It's something that I still couldn't do but I was feeling better. I was going to school and doing great at this point. I still had some challenges with walking long distances but I eventually overcame it.

I learned a lot dealing with this, one of the biggest lessons I learned was God has the final say. I say that because if it wasn’t for God I wouldn’t be here today I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I’ve grown to show the world that I am bigger than Sickle Cell will ever be and I will beat this disease. I’ve also learned how to have patience; Everything isn't going to happen overnight. You have to wait patiently to get better and heal. My healing process took a little longer but I am here because I had patience. Patience, God’s prayer, and the power of family are the things that kept me going during that difficult time in my life. This event has shaped me to never give up and never settle when people tell you, you can’t do something.

This event shaped me to carry out all of my dreams. It also gave me the drive to always give 110%. This surgery, the complications, and Sickle Cell made me want to become the change that is needed in the healthcare system. This is what motivates me to become Dr. Taryn Walker.

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