ITP Warrior - Jeana

You’ve likely heard the metaphor, “the glass is half empty/full.” How full is your glass? If you’re looking on the brighter side of life, it’s always half full. But what about those who have no choice but to have a glass that is consistently half empty? This is how I look at my bleeding disorder, immune thrombocytopenia (ITP).

When did I get ITP? I will never forget it … I was 13 years old and just about to blossom. My future was bright, and my ambitions were even brighter. I told myself I could be anything I wanted to be and so I was striving to do so. I was aiming to be everything that I ever dreamed of.

At the age of 13, I won “Young Authors,” was writing frequent articles as the lad on the school newspaper, a leader of my school’s student body, star track athlete with an outstanding long jump and an amazing five-and-a-half-minute mile, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, and a straight-A student, running for graduation court and valedictorian of my graduating class.

I was the little girl who strove to break glass ceilings. Except my glass was half empty. My platelets were “half full” and they were quickly depleting. Every ounce of energy that I put out only made me sicker. But I didn’t know this yet. I had no idea that the malaise that I felt, the bone pain that was nagging me and bruises that would visit me, was in fact a platelet disorder that was soon to threaten my life.

One day, after an awesome track meet, I went home feeling as if a blanket of deep malaise covered me. I fell into bed, didn’t eat and didn’t wake up for what seemed like days… and when I did wake the fatigue was so extreme that I could barely recognize the world around me. I hopped into the shower hoping that clearing the prior day’s energy from me would help me to feel better. After showering, I noticed a rash and bruises on my legs, arms, buttocks, and eyelids. Only the rash was in fact superficial bleeding seeping into the skin. “How could the rash be inside of my skin?” I remember thinking. I knew this could not be good and was likely something that needed immediate attention. I headed to the doctor.

After returning home, the phone rang with an urgency. It felt as if the universe was screaming with intense energy for me to answer the intense ringing noise. I picked up the call and was informed that I needed to get to the emergency room as soon as possible. Should I not head out right away, they would be sending out an ambulance to come pick me up. Their persistence continued, and they said I needed to be admitted into the ICU immediately. They exclaimed I exhibited signs of a platelet disorder that required immediate medical attention.

Upon arriving to the ICU, I found out that I had only 4,000 platelets. Our bodies need 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood. At 4,000 platelets, I learned my body was bleeding internally and my brain was bleeding. There was talk of leukemia, a spleen removal, and the priest was called in … from there everything got foggy. I don’t remember much else, but the weeks passed by and I endured what was ultimately a really boring hospital stay. One thing was for sure – I was a really lucky, tremendously gifted little girl.

Without blood donations, bone marrow transplants and biopsies, spinal taps, intravenous therapies (IVIG, IgG), and many other gifts from God, the universe, and beautiful souls, lives like mine cannot be saved.

It is my mission to shine my brightness with extravagant energy aiming to help others in their life by spreading energy, positivity, clarity, confidence, and blessings. It’s an ever-present wish that I have to leave my legacy as that of an energy that sets out to inspire the lives of people.

Thank you for reading my story. May you be blessed always.

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