Author Zetta Sylvia Baillou-Poitier recalls the challenges she and her family faced caring for two children diagnosed with Sickle-Cell Disease (SCD) in her memoir, Facing Two Sickles.
Baillou-Poitier and her husband learned they carried the “sickle-cell trait” in prenatal testing. SCD was confirmed when their daughter, Vashti, was six months old. Because the red blood cells in individuals with this disorder are “C” or sickle shaped and unable to carry the necessary amount of oxygen to the body, Vashti experienced severe pain requiring hospitalization and swelling of the fingers and toes, among other common symptoms of SCD.
Baillou’s-Poitier’s second child, Vance, was similarly afflicted and had “about 20 blood transfusions by the time he was 11 years old.” Both children experienced many hospitalizations with what the author describes as “really crazy pain” (known as pain crises).
Baillou-Poitier and her husband relied on family and their steadfast Christian faith as they worked and cared for their children with “love, love, and more love.” Both children completed high school and attended college, but Vashti died of complications of SCD at age 21. “It was all God’s plan to draw me closer to him,” the author notes.
Baillou-Poitier tells her story in a conversational and vulnerable style, expressing her emotions and fears in a relatable manner; her pain is palpable. Throughout, she offers advice; for example, “know your lifetime partner’s family medical history” and “Trust God.”
At a slim 110 pages, the narrative seems slight; more details of the author’s life as she managed her children’s illnesses would make for a fuller offering. A lesser issue is that chapters begin with a sentence written in capital letters with no spacing between words, a style difficult to decipher.
This plainly written memoir lacks the artistic flair that would draw in general readers. But those who hold the author’s religious beliefs and are caring for children with SCD will appreciate the solace and comfort that comes from shared experiences.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.