It was May 2020...three months from my 46th birthday. I went to see my doctor, who was a family friend, to get a lipid panel done, as I had been diagnosed with high cholesterol while serving in the Navy as a Naval Flight Officer. The doctor decided to do a complete blood count as well as the lipid panel to get a better idea of my overall health and any hidden underlying conditions, since I was a relatively new patient of his.

ITP Warrior David2The next evening at around 9pm, my wife and I received a phone call from the doctor, and he was very concerned about my platelet count, which was in the 20,000 range. He asked all the preliminary questions of any bruising, bleeding, or petechiae (of which I had none) and began a more private conversation with me to rule out any potential diseases that I may have contracted through any "extracurricular" activities (of which there were none and I was a little offended by the "interrogation," but understood he was doing his due diligence by asking). Having been in the military, I had been tested previously for HIV, hepatitis strains, and other potential concerning infections...all with negative results. The doctor ordered a prescription of Prednisone and another round of blood tests to verify no recent infections of these diseases and to test for past infection of a common ITP culprit – Epstein-Barr Virus. Sure enough, past EBV infection was likely the cause of my condition. To be sure of the diagnosis, he referred me to a hematologist, who ultimately agreed.

Fast forward through three and a half years – several rounds of prednisone (most given early in my treatment protocol), a treatment of Rituxan, and many appointments with the hematologist – and life continues. My platelets have gotten as low as 10,000, but I now usually stay in the 40,000-60,000 range with no treatment. My hematologist had considered removing my spleen early in my treatment, but I convinced him to let me keep it since I didn't exhibit any bleeding, bruising, or petechiae, even when my platelets went down to 10,000. I know that could change any day and constantly keep an eye out for any of those indications, especially as I get older. I still see my hematologist every 2-3 months with CBCs at each appointment, with a CBC thrown in between appointments if there's any concern about the last platelet count.

I try to eat right and stay physically fit to ward off fatigue that often plagues those with ITP but still struggle with overwhelming exhaustion at times. My wife and I have since started our own business, a small coffee shop and soon-to-be pizzeria, and continue raising our three sons. Although I've never knowingly met anyone else with ITP, it has thrust me into a small, elite group of people with similar experiences and struggles, and I am familiar with many of their stories through the PDSA website and publications. Their stories resonate with me, and I can easily relate through shared experiences.