I was diagnosed with ITP in February 2018 at the age of 15 after a simple checkup for anemia because of heavy periods. At 11:00 PM on the evening after my blood test, we received a call saying that I needed to go to the hospital immediately because I might have ITP. I’d never heard of the condition before, but considering I was called so urgently after-hours, it terrified me.
On January 31, 2018, my count was 12,000, and on February 1, it was 8,000. I was not hospitalized, and I did not receive any treatment.
Before my diagnosis, I was a gymnast and a figure skater, but I had to give up both sports because of the risk of bleeding. I also wasn’t allowed to play sports during gym class, and a lot of my classmates didn’t understand why because I didn’t “look sick.”
Unfortunately, my diagnosis came exactly one week before I was due to go on a ski trip abroad, and I was told that not only could I not ski, but I also couldn’t fly because I could have a nosebleed on the plane and not be able to control the bleeding. I remember feeling so frustrated and jealous that I wasn’t able to go, while all of my classmates were having the time of their lives. It really affected my mental health.
Now, exactly four years after my diagnosis, I am still struggling with symptoms. I was in remission between 2019 and 2021 with my platelets hovering at around 150,000 (normal, but a low normal), but my platelet count dropped again after each of my COVID-19 vaccines. I struggle with heavy periods, spontaneous bruising, and extreme fatigue because of my ITP.
Since my diagnosis, I’ve had a lot of anxiety around flying in an airplane, because I was told that it could be risky. I make sure to have my platelets checked before I fly, but it’s exhausting. I’m hoping to become a cabin crew, but I’m not sure if I’ll pass the medical exam due to my platelets.