Stories: Jamie’s sickle cell condition made her retreat from everyday living, but thanks to your support she embraces her life with joy

(Note: This story comes courtesy of Vanessa Steele with Diggs-Kraus Adult Sickle Cell Center. Names and images are changed to protect privacy.)

Nineteen-year-old Jamie was referred to a United Way network partner agency for treatment of her ongoing Sickle Cell Anemia diagnosis. The agency provides outpatient medical services for adults with sickle cell disease including IV therapy and blood transfusions.

At first, Jamie was hesitant to make the trips without her mother, who had acted as the “principal informant” in getting Jamie the help she needed.

“Jamie had lived with her mother and grandmother in a semi-rural part of the state and was home-schooled since second grade. Her relative isolation had probably contributed to her limited social and interpersonal skills,” said an agency counselor connected to the case. Jamie showed struggles with communications and had no marketable job skills or training – primarily because she had trouble with the recurring symptoms of sickle cell disease.

“Jamie demonstrated a strong preference for multiple pain medications,” the counselor said. “Her fears were exacerbated by high anxieties, frequent clinic and hospital admissions, and noncompliance with clinic recommendations.”

With help from a program at the agency, Jamie started to see gradual success. Skeptical at first, Jamie nonetheless began to exercise faith in the treatment, and in herself. Soon she was able to switch narcotic medications for non-narcotic recommendations from her counselor as treatment for her condition. Over time, her health began to show noticeable improvements and her disposition also improved.

“Jamie became more spontaneous and engaging with staff, and even served as a role model for other sickle cell patients, warning them of the hazards and addictive properties of too much narcotic medication,” the counselor said.

Jamie surprised the staff when she told them that because of her treatments, she had become more hopeful, had even started dating. She was shedding her “cocoon” approach to life and wanted to embrace her young adulthood with joy.

Thanks to your support of United Way’s network of care, many people like Jamie are better able to face health struggles with more happiness and confidence.

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