September is sickle cell awareness month. It’s like a 3rd New Year celebration for me. January 1st being the actual new year and then my birthday being another and nine months later in September, for sickle cell awareness month. It is a time to renew and reflect on my overall quality of life. Having Sickle Cell is difficult and requires a lot of selfcare to stay healthy. Actually, it’s more of a fight to manage my chronic pain disease. Sickle cell is a chronic blood disorder that affects over one hundred thousand Americans. Each day more than one thousand babies are born with this hereditary illness, with more than one million sufferers across the globe.
Sickle cell is one of the most common rare blood disorders, yet western medicine and healthcare research are only finally, yet slowly making efforts and strides to discover treatments and a possible cure for sickle cell. Being diagnosed as a baby, I grew up never knowing what it was really like to be pain free. At a very young age I understood the importance of pain management. As an adult it was a new struggle to manage my pain crises on my own and I ended up in the hospital constantly. Once I became my own healthcare advocate, I was more aware about the kinds of things I needed to put into my system to relieve the stress I was putting on my body.
Due to the pandemic, this year all of the usually wonderful events that occur for Sickle Cell Awareness Month, have been cancelled. This is the time we take to share our stories and educate the public about ways to support the Sickle Cell community. So, I am using September 2020 to jumpstart a self-care routine that fits my lifestyle. This is more of a vision board for the way I want to live my life every day. Of course, there will be weeks that I might miss a yoga routine or skip my nightly tea, but I strive every day to do as much as I can for my physical and mental well-being.
We live in a technology filled society. We get our news from social media and can check our heart rate with our smart watch. So, it is par for the course that my Amazon Alexa device wakes me up every morning with an inspiring song of my choosing. I love Sia’s song “Opportunity”. It gets me motivated, open and available to seize the day. I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, so waking up to something loud and too upbeat would just have me frowning for the rest of the day. Alexa follows that song up with a Christian favorite, “No Weapon” by the gospel great Fred Hammond. Knowing that all things are possible with God by my side, gives me comfort and the reminder that no weapon formed against me shall prosper gives me the confidence and extra push of faith I need to make big decisions and take even bigger chances.
As I mentioned before, I am not a morning person, I prefer not to even speak or hear any noise before 9am. I enjoy the silence of the morning. I use that time to make a cup of ginger with lemon tea and sit on my back patio and enjoy the lake view. I admit, I am not the best at meditation, but most of the time I just sit talk to God and just showing appreciation for the little things and expressing what is on my heart. That helps to clear my mind and put me in a positive mood.
I tend to do better when I eat a light breakfast, but traditional breakfast does not have the nutritional value that my body needs. Cereal, pancakes, or toast just do not cut it as healthy choices. It might be delicious, but sugar and starch can do a number on your system. Causing inflammation, bloating, and making you to feel sluggish. Foods that build up the blood are very important for fighting fatigue. Juicing and meal prep are great ways to combat hunger, control weight and keep your body in overall health. I like to spend my Sundays preparing various organic, leafy greens-centered meals for the week. And juicing has become a new form of relaxation for me. There is something calming about shoving whole vegetables and fruits into a juicer, listening to the whir of the machine, and watching the bright colors of vitamin C, beta carotene and b-12 liquified into a delicious drink. After that, I can take on whatever comes my way. Whether it be video conference meetings, phone calls, answering emails and writing deadlines, I have the energy to accomplish the days’ goals.
I find that these are great remedies for managing my chronic pain. Along with home remedies like sassafras tea, which in moderation, can support a healthy circulation.
These days, self-care and is more important than ever before. Eating right and keeping a clear mind has never been more pertinent.
Find new ways to be encouraged every day to create your own personal healthy lifestyle vision and continue to work on it one day at a time.
Juliet Romeo BIO:
Juliet Romeo is a writer and director from Brooklyn, New York with strong ties to South Florida. Her script, Unclean garnered the 48 Hour Film Festival Audience award and aired on a Halloween edition of PBS’ Art Loft. She directed her first short film, The Promotion, the following year. Her first documentary J.U.L.E.S is a personal journey of her struggles with the chronic disease sickle cell anemia. It was chosen by PBS for the Film Maker series. It won the NSU Symposium Best Documentary and has been a special selection at The Urban Film Festival, Allen Maldonado’s Everybody Digital Black History Film Festival and the 2019 American Black Film Festival. She is continuing the documentary as a feature titled Sickle 2 Circle to build awareness and resources for those living with sickle cell. Juliet also teaches a documentary and screenwriting workshop for teenagers. When she is not writing, she is creating content for her blog and podcast Collectively Jules.