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I haven’t had a pain free day in seven years. Since June 2019 it’s been especially rough. I’ve spent more time in the hospital than at my own home. Every week I’m suffering from a sickle cell pain crisis that sends me to the emergency room. And although I inherited this genetic disorder from both of my parents, it is my stepmom that I rely on when I am sick.

When I’m in the hospital, I am alone due to this current coronavirus pandemic. The hardest part is being away from my son Tristan. He’s only three years old, so my stepmom helps him operate the iPad I bought for him so we can talk and see each other every day. But my heart still warms and breaks at the same time when we have to settle for hugs and kisses through an electronic device instead of experiencing it in person.