I’ve been dealing with sickle cell anemia since I was two-years-old when I was officially diagnosed with the disorder. Though I was born a chubby baby, my diagnosis caused me to lose weight and learn how to walk again. I’m now 6’1 at 155lbs, definitely not a big person at all.

Even though I was living with a disorder that has been described by some as a ticking timebomb for internal attacks, I never really got sick. At least not from my disorder.

However, it all started back in high school, during my freshman year, I had my gallbladder removed.

After graduating from high school, I was accepted to attend Florida A&M University. I was only at FAMU for a month when sickle cell decided that it wanted to interrupt my life. I got really sick and had to move back home to Sanford, Florida.

Because of sickle cell, it took me six and a half years to graduate from college, but I’m a proud graduate of the University of Central Florida, despite it.

I was in a constant battle with sickle cell from 2001 to 2011. Ten years of my life, dealing with something that was completely out of my control, with no idea how to get it under control. It was like torture.

Fortunately, I decided to move to Atlanta for a better quality of life. Little did I know, the move would basically save my life.

I transferred the job that I had at the time to Atlanta in October 2011. After I arrived, I was sick every two to three months, no different from being back home in Florida.

Eventually, I discovered Grady Hospital’s Sickle Cell Center, a clinic that provides 24-hour care to people diagnosed with sickle cell anemia.

I remember right around my 33rd birthday, my dad came to visit to see how I was going in my new home city. During his visit, I got sick and decided to go to Grady for a checkup.

All they did was increase my dosage of hydroxyurea pills from two to three; the same pill that I took back in Flordia.

They were supposed to decrease the amounts of attacks caused by sickle cell in half, but I never saw a difference. However, this time I went 20 months without being admitted to a hospital. I still had a couple of visits to the emergency room, but nothing that made so serious to make me become a resident at my local hospital.

While I know that Grady hospital has helped make my life better, I also give thanks to prayer because it definitely works, and changes things.

Up until June 2018, I went 23 months without being hospitalized.

Last year, was one the worse years I’ve had dealing with sickle cell. I had two attacks and was hospitalized the week after my 38th birthday.

Even with my girlfriend Tiffany standing by my side the whole time, I thought I was going to die. I confided in her that I didn’t want to die this way. I didn’t want my obituary to say that I let sickle cell anemia defeat me and take my life.

Both of the attacks left me laid up in the hospital for 14 days, which was abnormal for me. I’ve never been hospitalized for that long. I was scared and never want to experience that sort of fear or pain ever again.

Now, I’m in a better place with my healthcare, and more importantly, I’m happy. As a sickle cell anemia patient, I can honestly say that I’m in the best place for my disorder and I have better healthcare.

Atlanta has been a big blessing for me and I’m happy it was in God’s plan to get me here.

Atlanta has allowed me to become a writer and get my associate’s degree in journalism. In 2014 I started acting, and have been featured on plenty of televisions programs and movies as background talent or an extra.

Last year, I started my website called the AJ3 Report and I’m now celebrating 18 months of being online.

I’m experiencing things in life that I never thought I would be doing. And I’m the healthiest that I’ve ever been. Life is so good now, and I never take for granted that my life expectancy isn’t as long as most people’s.

I know that I’m not going anywhere for a while because I still have a lot to accomplish on this Earth.

The Bible promises us three scores plus 10, which equals 70 years. I’m expecting to be here 70 years or longer. I still have to get married, have an Abner IV hopefully, see more of the world, build my brand up and live the life God promised to me.

I just one of many people suffering from a health condition who wishes they were normal and didn’t have to worry about missing, work, school, trips, and other things that life has to offer. But, I know that I can’t take anything for granted, and I hope that everyone else, whether or not you sometimes suffer like I do or worse, doesn’t take anything for granted either.

Once we leave, we can’t take anything with us, so enjoy what you have for the time that you have it. I know I’m enjoying my life to the fullest, are you?

(Photo: Courtesy of Abner Jackson III)

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