What She Said: I Think Of My Body As A Clunky Old Car

August 11, 2021

Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here. This is Zikoko’s What She Said.

The subject of this week’s What She Said is a woman who was born with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). She talks about the first time she had a crisis, losing her sister to the disease, not allowing it stop her from enjoying her life, and how breakdowns are a regular part of her life. 

What’s your earliest memory of your childhood?

I was a talkative kid and quite troublesome. My earliest memory is hiding behind a sofa one evening to avoid my mum, who was trying to convince me to go to bed.

Another memory is of a crisis I had.


It was a cool night, around 1 a.m., and I woke up with a sharp pain in both my knees. 

Often, my crises start around joints, but the pain was unexpected and excruciating. It was so excruciating that I was rushed to a hospital emergency unit. I was bedridden for about six days and heavily medicated. I’ve never had a crisis as bad as that one since.

But you’ve had others?

Yes. I’ve had regular crises for as long as I can remember.

As I’ve grown, it’s become easier to manage and avoid crises, but I used to have one a day or four a week consistently for the majority of my earlier years.

How did your parents take it?

My family learnt about SCD the hard way and went through various hospital visits with my sister. So when I was born and later diagnosed, they were more prepared.

I grew up taking daily prescription medication, avoiding excessive sports and drinking a minimum of two litres of water a day.

Unfortunately, my sister died in 2013. 

I’m so sorry.  

It’s okay. My family understands only the basics. This made it hard for my siblings to understand crises earlier in life, but thankfully,  my stepmother and legal guardian was a nurse; and she was always available during a crisis.

The first time I learnt about SCD in school, the biology teacher taught us that people with SCD can’t live past 20. It’s bullshit. I did the majority of my education on SCD by myself, with no help from my doctor or family members.

What about outside school? Where was the first place you heard about it?

I was young, maybe 7 or 8. I found out I had SCD by overhearing an early morning conversation between my stepmother and brother outside my room, the morning after I had had a crisis in the night.

They didn’t tell you before? 



I don’t know. I doubt I would have had any use for the information. I’m glad I didn’t find out any later than I did, but I don’t wish I knew earlier.

So, what’s life like for you with SCD? 

I think of my body like a clunky old car. Since almost anything can trigger a crisis, I try my best to drink more than enough water, maintain a medium body temperature and avoid extreme stress.

It’s very touch and go, hence the comparison with an old car. I’m managing my body and despite how much I try, it breaks down often and I end up in the workshop.

What about the future? What does a future with SDC look like for you? 

I used to despise thinking about this. I’ve been suicidal after crises, but this life na one.

I plan to travel, explore my many talents, taste many foods and work on my career goals. 

In the short term, I intend to purchase equipment for a personal gym soon. I’m working towards a toned body ideal that I once believed was unattainable for me because I believed I couldn’t exercise.

I intend to live to the fullest, and see where that takes me.

What about a family. Any plans for that? 

Maybe. If I choose not to marry and/or have kids, it will be for reasons outside SCD.

If I ever marry, I will not have biological children unless I do so in a country where medicine is advanced enough to avoid passing the sickle cell trait.

Do you think having SDC changed you in any way? 

Yes, actually. It’s helped me be more empathetic towards people with chronic illnesses.

Alongside other things, having SCD has helped shape the way I live. I’m here for all the goodness, all the enjoyment.

I did not choose SCD, so why should I let it stop me from enjoying my life?

For more stories like this, check out our #WhatSheSaid and for more women like content, click here

Zikoko Donation Banner

Help Zikoko keep making the content you love

More than ever, people are turning to Zikoko for stories that matter and content they love. But still, we, like many media organisations, are feeling the financial heat of these times. If you find us valuable, please make a contribution to help keep Zikoko zikoko-ing.

Thank you for your support.

We are also cool with Crypto.

Donation Close
Zikoko Logo

Complete Your Commitment

Donation confirm

Your Contribution is confirmed! Amount

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

August 24, 2020

As we get older, living with our family becomes increasingly tricky. From the minor disagreements to the curfew to the privacy invasion, most people tend to move out as quickly as they can but very few speak about how it affects their mental health. I spoke to a lady who started having panic attacks after […]

September 4, 2021

If at least 5 out of these 10 songs don’t make you feel like the powerful, badass queen that you are, then only God can help you. 1. “Bloody Samaritan” by Ayra Starr Incase you didn’t know, you’re a ticking dynamite ready to explode, baby. 2. “Brown Skin Girl” by Beyonce ft. Wizkid Your skin […]


Now on Zikoko

May 21, 2022

The subject of today’s Sex Life is a 27-year-old man who masturbated for the first time when he was 22. He talks about the transition from saving himself for marriage to just enjoying sex, and why he never considered masturbation till he started having sex.

Recommended Quizzes

April 1, 2020

Everyone has a Nigerian bank that matches their personality. You could either be as likeable as GTB, as efficient as Access or as mature as First Bank. Either way, all you have to do is take this quiz and we’ll let you know with almost 100% certainty. So, go ahead:

April 3, 2020

While the rest of the world loves to treat our continent like a country, there are actually 54 African countries. So, in a bid to test your knowledge (and educate you), we’ve created a quiz to see how many of their capitals you can correctly name. Go ahead:

March 24, 2020

While we know that a lot of the best Nigerian artists deservedly have fans across generations, that won’t stop us from attempting to guess how old you are based on your taste in Nigerian music. So, take this quiz to see if we got it right:

More from Her

May 11, 2022

Today’s subject on #Zikokowhatshesaid is @fehinlean, a 30-year-old Nigerian woman. She talks about her childhood love for motorcycles, why she waited until she was 28 to ride one and handling the stares when people realise she isn’t a man, on her biking trips across the country.

May 7, 2022

“I have gone from believing in the possibility that God exists to questioning the reality of that chance.”

In this essay, Mariam talks about her journey with religion over the years and what influences her lack of faith.

Read here:


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.