Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm Alive!

They say even good news can cause stress.  When I looked at the calendar this morning and saw the date, I understood why I've had a twitchy eye.
Three years ago today on January 19, I was told by an emergency room doctor that I should say goodbye to my family because I was dying.
My blood tests confirmed that I had ITP for the second time in my life.  The only way to save my life was with a blood platelet transfusion.  Unfortunately that morning a match for my blood type could not be found in their database for the entire state of California. With ITP I was dying. Without a blood platelet transfusion I would certainly die.
A healthy platelet count is approximately 200,000.  When it gets to 50,000, it is considered life threatening. At 10,ooo, your chances of survival are extremely slim. In fact you are not considered to be able to survive.  When I arrived at the ER, my blood tests showed my count was a mere 1,000. One thousand.
After the doctor left me, I immediately called my mother and explained what my situation was and asked her to get me a priest right away so I could receive the last rites. I also asked her to to call everyone and have them call everyone they knew to pray for me because it was going to take a miracle for me to stay alive. Very soon I was on prayer lists with churches, relatives and friends of friends.
Next I asked R to trade places with my son in my room so I could speak with him.  Do you know how hard it is to tell your child, even an adult child that you've been told you are going to die. It felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest!  I had a talk with Jimmy and made some requests with him on his life after I was gone. When I was done he told me to shut up!  LOL! He basically said I wasn't going to die and that he wouldn't hear me say it.  I told him that I didn't want to  and that I was praying for a miracle and I believe in miracles but just in case things needed to be said and taken care of.  What broke my heart the most was the thought of being away from my son. I still get teary eyed thinking about that time.
I received a call from my mom saying she had a hard time finding a priest. Some were on vacation, some had the day off, others were booked but she did call several churches and finally one priest was on his way. After I received this sacrament and was absolved of all my sins (oh yeah, I believe in that) I started to feel at peace. Afterwards the doctor came in and said they found a platelet match for my blood type! But it was in San Diego. A minimum two hour drive without traffic to where I was located.  And this was a Friday morning at 8AM. The traffic would be horrendous! Still he requested they drive it up in an ambulance to our hospital. Now all we had to to was pray that I'd still be alive when the San Diego platelets arrived.  Yup, that's all!
As I sat in an ER bed waiting in a hospital gown, I noticed all the spots on my arms and legs. Spots are the only symptom you have when you get ITP.  It doesn't hurt at all. There is no sick feeling, no fever, only tiny little red spots which are indication that you are bleeding under your skin. ITP is when your blood platelets count is so low that your blood can no longer clot. You can bleed to death either by a cut or internally. So when you see these spots all over, you are in fact bleeding internally.
When my mother arrives at the hospital, she and my son tell me they saw an ambulance in parking lot and wonder if it is my platelets. A short time after the ER doctor comes in and confirms it. They made the drive in 2 hours on a Friday morning in traffic! That in itself was a miracle.  The hospital checks me into a regular room and hooks up me up to the platelets.  It looks like a large plastic bag of apple sauce going into me. I was also given Prednisone and antibiotics. During my hospital stay, I had to have blood test every two hours to keep an eye on my platelet count.  Pretty soon the blood techs (i forget their true name) or as I called them, the vampires, nicknamed me spiderwoman because the only place they could get blood out of me was on the inside of one of my wrists.
My body started doing what it was supposed to do and my platelets multiplied on their own.  After a sufficient amount of time I was released to finish recovering at home.  At my next hematologist appointment he told me hardly anyone survives ITP one time and No One survives it twice like I did! He said I was a miracle. He still thinks he should check my count every six months and I'm grateful for his precaution. I happen to enjoy my life but I didn't come out of this trauma unscathed.  I ended up with a severe panic disorder, some OCD, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I can no longer drive freeways and just about a year ago started driving again on streets.  Gone are the day where I didn't worry about the little things or things I couldn't change.  I am more neurotic than I've ever been but....I'm alive.  *eye twitch*


  1. um, this is scary to say the least. but look what you've survived. dude. this is a great story! you're ALIVE!

  2. Thank you Becky! I appreciate your comment. :-)