17 Year Old Living with ITP

I am  a 17-year-old girl living with ITP.  I was diagnosed with this when I was in sixth grade.  I started to notice bruises all over my legs, but at the time I was taking Tae Kwon Do, so I linked it to that.  I finally ended up going to the doctor when my legs were covered in petechiae.  My pediatrician sent me to a hematologist and they had diagnosed me with ITP a few weeks later.

I didn't really understand what the disease was all about back then, all I knew was that I was upset about quitting the sports I had been playing.

 I was in and out of the hospital getting treatments all of middle school.  I tried to hide it from my friends in school because I was worried they would make fun of me.  They all started to notice something was different when I would get petechiae all over my neck, and bruises all over my body.  My platelet count was and still always is between 12,000 and 17,000.  The first treatment I received was when my platelet levels had dropped to 3,000.  I started with the corticosteroids, but then was soon switched to IVIg because of awful side effects from the steroids.

Freshman year of high school was when I realized how life threatening this disease can be.  It was the night of my birthday and my stomach started to cramp up.  All of my friends told me to blow it off, but I had never felt cramps like this before.  I thought that maybe I was just overthinking it, and figured it would go away by the morning, so we all just went to sleep without a worry.  The next morning I could barely even straighten myself because of these intense pains.  My mom took me to Immediate Care and they told us I had pulled a muscle in my abdomen.

I went to school the next day and within an hour of school starting I was sent straight to the hospital.  They drew my blood and found out that I was anemic, but they did not know where I was bleeding from.  They rushed me to get an ultrasound and soon found out that I had three ovarian cysts that had ruptured and were bleeding into my stomach.  They rushed me to the Intensive Care Unit, and told my parents that I was extremely unstable at that point.  This is where I had realized that this stomach cramp was a serious matter.  They could not do emergency surgery like they needed to because my platelet levels were at their normal low range, which is 17,000.  I had packed platelets, blood, and an IVIG all being pumped into me through three IVs that night.

The next morning I was rushed into emergency surgery, and they removed two liters of blood from my stomach.  The surgery took three and a half hours to perform.  I was on oxygen for a while after my surgery because I was no longer able to breathe well on my own. I was stuck in the Intensive Care Unit for a few weeks, and missed roughly a month of school.  The amount of school work I had when I returned to school was insane, but the most frustrating part of it all was the people asking what had happened to me.  Not a lot of people knew that I had this disease, but I ended up opening up and explaining what had happened and what disease I have.

Since this event I have not been through another life-threatening situation.  I get my blood checked almost every week, and go in for an IVIg treatment at Children’s Hospital frequently.  Living with this disease everyday can be difficult, since my platelet levels are always extremely low.  I have learned to make the best out of it because there is nothing I can do to change it.  I am hopeful that one day there will be a cure for this disease and the struggle to live with ITP will diminish.

- Cassidy G.


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