Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sobering - Background Information (Part 1)

In September of 2007 I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), which is a blood disorder in which your immune system attacks and destroys the platelets in your body. Platelets are necessary for clotting, so symptoms of ITP include bruising easily or bruises without obvious cause or injury, bleeding of the mouth and gums, nosebleeds, petechial skin rashes (red or purple dots), and in severe cases internal bleeding and bleeding in the brain. A normal platelet count is 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microlitre of blood. It is not known what causes ITP, hence the word "idiopathic". Although a suspected reoccurring virus might be the culprit in my case. My platelet count was 3000 and the ER doctor who admitted me said that I could have easily bled to death from something as simple as a scrape from falling down or a paper cut. I was admitted because they wanted to do an infusion of platelets, intravenous immunoglobulin treatments, and make sure I wasn't bleeding internally. I was hospitalized for 4 days and upon release I was on 150 mgs of Prednisone (steroid) and referred to my primary care doctor for follow-up care and monitoring. I had to get blood work done weekly at first and then eventually monthly while they slowly reduced my Prednisone by 10 mg a month. The entire process took over a year before I was finally off of Prednisone and all my care was handled by my primary doctor.

In March of 2011 I experienced a relapse and started developing the petechial skin rash and one morning I woke up with unexplained bruises all over my stomach. I immediately freaked out. We're talking major panic attack that involved getting sick. I tried to call my sister Brenda several times and couldn't get through. Then I heard a knock on the door and when I opened it she was there. She could tell by the look on my face that something was wrong. When I showed her the bruises she told me I needed to call my doctor immediately. I called my primary care doctor who saw me later that day and he ordered several lab tests that I had done at an outside lab facility. My sister Brenda drove me to both appointments and then drove me home and stayed with me a few hours before going home. Later that evening he called me to inform me that my platelet count was 9000 and that he was referring me to the same Hematologist that managed my care while I was in the hospital. His reasoning was that he thought I would be better served by an expert in the field because his knowledge of treatment was limited and he wanted to make sure there were no complications with my care. He also told me that if I were his daughter then he'd definitely insist that I saw a specialist. Well, that's comforting... He told me that I should call his office in the morning and they would contact the Hematologist and make sure all the labs were sent to him and then his office would contact me to schedule an appointment. Sounded simple enough. I was terrified, but I had been through this before so I had some idea of what to expect. Or at least that's what I thought...

To be continued...

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