For many people in the UK, the easing of lockdown restrictions have provided a sense of normality. Britons are now permitted to see friends and family, go to restaurants and relax in their local pubs. However, this is not the reality for a number of individuals suffering with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). This life-threatening disease affects approximately 15,000 people in the UK, and many are overcome with scepticism as they make changes to their shielding journey nearly five months after lockdown restrictions were imposed.
Ara Erinle found out she was suffering with sickle cell four years ago. At the age of 15, Ara was not sure what SCD actually entailed and was determined to continue enjoying her adolescence. A few years later, aged 17, she suffered her first sickle cell ‘crisis’. The majority of sickle cell sufferers will experience regular episodes of long-lasting chronic pain.
“I can’t even begin to explain the pain. There are only a few words that I could use to describe it, but those don’t even encapsulate how painful it is,” says Ara. Since that day, Ara has had a ‘crisis’ episode every month. Following the advice of her doctor, Ara had been shielding prior to the official government announcement. After months at home, the reopening of shops and restaurants has not dissuaded her from shielding.