Ali Gaspar (A-Star) is a British rap and grime artist and a new dad. He is also living with sickle cell anemia disease, a genetic and unpredictable multi-system disorder that can lead to health issues, including bone, joint and chest pain, organ damage, stroke, leg ulcers, and infections.
“My body has never been normal; it has never been like anyone else’s ... I have to constantly just get on with things,” Gaspar told Lucy Pasha-Robinson, host of the podcast Chronic by HuffPost.
As a result of this disease, Gaspar has had countless blood transfusions. He also missed a lot of school growing up, was branded “lazy” by a phys-ed teacher who didn’t understand his condition, and had a hip replacement at the age of 25.
Among his key pieces of advice, Gaspar recommended being diligent about finding the right partner: Since his condition is hereditary, for example, he wanted to minimize the chances of passing it onto his children, by disclosing his condition and asking partners about their family’s medical history.
He also emphasized the importance of taking care of your mental, spiritual and physical well-being, in order to be present and active as a parent as much as possible. And he said communicating well with your parenting partner ― if you have one ― is key, so you can make adjustments to your childcare schedule, when your chronic illness is flaring up.
The new dad also shared that it’s crucial to accept and ask for support from others. “My wife and I are not superman and superwoman, especially with my condition,” he said. “There’s nothing shameful about asking for help.”
Lastly, he recommended finding a professional to talk with, as you navigate your condition. “My physical health can affect my mental health, so it’s an important outlet to be able to express how I’m feeling,” he explained.
Also on HuffPost: Which foods are linked to chronic illness.