Sickle cell patients find it very tough to get jobs in general as I have been told. They say this is prevalent in private organisations especially because the patients must take time off to go to the hospital regularly or take time off work sick quite often.
As a nation who has the highest number of people suffering from sickle cell, I believe employers could do well to employ people who can work well but perhaps have a health condition. This is so important as I consider that having those who maybe have one sickness or the other will help us to know more about various illnesses around us, like sickle cell.
I started working for a worldwide media company at the age of 22 and I was there for 23 years. I left because I wanted to go and spread my wings. Since leaving the company I have been working in another sector for seven years now. I was already working for this other company before I left my main job.
When I was working for the media company, of course I was sick and had hospital appointments but, more than anything, I worked as hard as or even harder than my ‘able bodied’ colleagues. The reason is because I know that with sickle cell, I could fall ill any day and at any time. So, I didn’t have the luxury to say, ‘I’ll do this tomorrow’ because guess what, by that night, I could be having a crisis. So, whenever I am well, if I have work to do, I do it to the best of my ability and go over and beyond what I am supposed to do. Whenever I had a hospital appointment then, I would either come in early on the day or make up my hours, later that week.
I heard that other people with sickle cell get discriminated against, especially when working for private employers. I am not saying all private employers discriminate but some do. If they find out that their employee is taking time off a lot because he or she is being sick, they let the person go.
If there is a round of redundancy coming up, the managers will make sure the ‘sick’ person is let go. Such an employer should instead find a way to help the person with a health condition. For example, maybe reducing their hours will help as it is nice to work with other people who are ‘not like us’. Or a person with a health condition could be put on a less stressful duty at work for a while, if unwell or is recovering from an illness.
I also know other people with sickle cell who are getting on with their lives, working as doctors, lawyers, business men and women, engineers etc. As I have always said, sickle cell affects people very differently and can either be something that you are able to live your life to the fullest and have a fulfilled life or it is a burden because it brings you down every other day.
As someone who has sickle cell, I can honestly tell anyone who is in the position to hire, that people with a health condition or the other are more compassionate than others. They understand pain, rejection and hurt. They don’t take anything for granted and are usually grateful for what they have, especially work.
You know that I usually end my column with foods that are good for people with sickle cell, I like to encourage you, if you suffer from the disorder to eat more watermelons. As you know, its water content is high and this is good for us because we need to be hydrated. It also includes vitamins and nutrients that are good for us: vitamin C(21 per cent of the RDI),vitamin A (18 per cent of the RDI), potassium( five per cent of the RDI) magnesium: four per cent of the RDI; vitamins B1, B5 and B6 (three per cent of the RDI) and it is also filled with antioxidants and amino acids.
If you would like to send me an email, send it to – firstname.lastname@example.org and do check out my blog on www.howtolivewithsicklecell.co.uk
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