Nosebleeds, petechiae and the fear of never bearing children: now a distant memory.
I was diagnosed with ITP when I was 16 years old. I kept getting nose bleeds that would last for hours and bruising all over. I remember seeing red dots cover my skin, not knowing that it was petechiae. I finally went to the doctor when I had a nosebleed that lasted so long, I passed out. When I got to the doctor’s, they did what I remember them calling a “bleed time test” to time how long it took for three small pricks on my arm to stop bleeding. They went through at least 50 sheets of filters absorbing the droplets of blood as minutes passed and passed.
The longer I sat there, the more doctors and nurses would come by and check on me, and the more the staff began to whisper outside the exam room door. I remember my mother getting more and more nervous as she flipped through a magazine. I know now, looking back, that she wasn’t reading a single page. She was trying to appear calm for my sake, but she must have been so scared.
Finally, they sent me to another room and the doctor came in. He started by saying that I have symptoms of a serious problem with my blood. His exact words were, “We don’t think it’s leukemia, but we need to find out immediately what is wrong.” He then went on to explain blood platelets, which neither my mother nor I had ever heard of. He explained that normal counts were above 250,000 and my lab showed that I had 11,000. He said, “I cannot believe you are not in a coma right now.”