(WARNING: Contains graphic content, and may trigger someone with a phobia of blood)
Hi everyone, I hope you’re all well.
5 years ago my life changed.
I’ve spoken briefly about this before, but as it reaches the 5 year milestone of something that changed my life, I wanted to sit down and write about it properly, as a reflection after half a decade has passed. To raise awareness of it, to be able to get it all out, and to look back on. Writing is so therapeutic to me, and as life experiences go, this has been my biggest. It deserves acknowledgment.
5 years ago, in Spring of 2013, I was going about my life as a young woman. Going out, having fun, seeing my friends. Life was what it is for a lot of young people; easy, carefree, without trouble.
I woke up one morning with a nosebleed, and thought nothing of it. I’d had nosebleeds pretty regularly as a child, and been told by the doctors they weren’t anything to worry about.
Throughout the week, I seemed to be getting nosebleeds every day, and decided I’d go to the doctors in a few days if they persisted. I didn’t get a chance to do that.
I woke up on the morning of Bank Holiday Monday, to find that not only was my nose pouring with blood, but my mouth was severely bleeding. In horror, I looked in the mirror, to find my gums covered in black blood blisters, which were spilling out with blood. You couldn’t even see my teeth through the thick, red blood that was pouring out.
I looked down at my legs, to see that they were covered in deep purple marks, every inch of my skin, with big green and yellow bruises overlapping them. I realised I was bursting for the toilet, and ran into the bathroom to get my thoughts together. When I went to the toilet, all that came out was streams of bright red blood.
My parents rushed me to hospital, and I remember walking through A&E at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, clutching tissues with my nose and mouth, which were already seeping through with blood, dripping onto the floor. A&E was packed, as it always is on a Bank Holiday, and people were turning to look at me in horror. I looked like I had the plague, or like I’d been beaten to within an inch of my life.
I was taken immediately into a room, where blood was taken from me to test. My parents were told to prepare themselves for the fact that I might have leukemia. I remember my mum being hysterical, as you would be.
The consultant came back in and said they needed to do more blood tests; the results that had come back didn’t seem possible, and they needed to retest, which they did.
The same results came back; I didn’t have leukemia, which I am so thankful for everyday. My blood contained 0 platelets. Platelets are a component in your blood which stop bleeding by clotting and clumping. A normal person should have 150,000-400,000 per microlitre of blood. I literally had not a single platelet in my body, and so as a result, I was bleeding out of my kidneys, my nose, my mouth, and by this point, I was hemorrhaging in my eyes too, causing them to bleed in the corners.
I was immediately put on steroids, which didn’t work. I couldn’t actually name all the types of medication and injections and drips I had, as there was so many, but during those first few days in hospital, they tried everything. I was being given blood and platelet transfusions literally non stop, but it was all just coming straight back out.
I just want to quickly say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you to anyone who gives blood. It breaks my heart that I am not able to give blood due to the fact I’ve had transfusions, but honestly, people giving blood saved my life, it is the reason I’m here today. I would have died if it wasn’t for all of you, and I am grateful from the bottom of my heart. What you’re doing is so important.
I was in so much pain because I was so sore; the bleeding just from my nose was filling up 5 bins per hour with tissues during those first few days; everything was dry, cracked, and horrifically sore.
They were worried I was bleeding from the brain so I had to have a CT scan on my head to check this. There was so many precautions that had to be taken, like me being put immediately on the pill to stop me having any periods to prevent further bleeding, and only being allowed to leave my bed in a wheelchair in case I fell over and cut myself and bled.
I had an injection in my stomach after about a week in hospital, which promoted some kind of hormone growth inside me, and the next day, I had gained 1 single platelet.
They kept going with me, and then it went up to 2, then 3, then 5, and so on.
I won’t bang on about my recovery process or anything, because I am better now. I’ve been in remission for 5 years, albeit a few scares. It could come back, but we know what to do if it does.
My illness is Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura. It is an autoimmune disease. Your body mistakes your platelets as being foreign entities and dangerous and destroys them. Unfortunately for me, mine destroyed all of them at that time.
I didn’t want to write this post to get sympathy or anything like that; there are so many illnesses which are so much worse, and cause loss of life. I am grateful I had something which was treatable and that I’m still here today, even if I didn’t think I was going to be during some points.
I wanted to write this post to raise awareness of what a rare illness ITP is, and also, to really stress how precious life is. I lived in a bubble before I got ill, and I didn’t see how sacred this life we are given is. Enjoy and relish every single moment of it. Do what the hell you want to do. Laugh, have fun, tell people you love them; just live the best possible life you can for yourself because it can all be taken away in an instant. Stop caring what people think of you, eat the cake, drink the cocktail, don’t waste time with people who don’t think you’re fucking amazing. Life really is too short.
All my love BGP xx