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Floored By Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)

A Life Changing Event That Changed My Attitude To Self Care

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished 2 years ago Updated 4 months ago 6 min read
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ITP Image from Pathpedia.com

In the mid eighties, I was living in Leyland and working in Bradford and driving to and from work every day, 140 mile round trip.

On my daily drive to Bradford from Leyland I almost always saw accidents. Car write-offs, ambulances, police cars and more. I was working long days, getting tired, and thinking one day that was going to be me so I needed something to actually keep me awake. I found a tablet that can still be bought today called Pro Plus, and effectively that's pure caffeine,so I was popping these to keep me awake, to make sure that I would actually last the journey to Bradford and from Bradford and then be able to put in a working day as well.

But then one day I started to feel very run down. It happened over a couple of days and I noticed some small bruises on my hands , arms , feet and legs, nothing to worry about I thought. Then I started getting blood blisters in my throat and tongue and knew there was obviously something wrong , but at this time it was like ” no I need to work I need to provide for my family, I need to keep on going and it'll be ok I'll be able to deal with it it will be fine”.

Then one Saturday night I went to the loo for a wee and it was just shockingly red. It was bright and it was blood, and the thing is in these situations we always find an excuse and my excuse was “Have been drinking Ribena?”. I managed to talk some sense into myself and said “no that's not right that's blood”.

Not sure if I drove myself or my wife at the time, drove me, went to the hospital and told them what happened, showed them what had happened and they took me in immediately. I didn't get home that night , or for the next month.

My first thoughts were “Is it leukemia, Is it AIDS, Is it what?”.

I was very very frightened about it.

The doctors told me they didn't know what it was. I was hemorrhaging in blood and they weren't sure what was causing it. It was like hemophilia so they took me in and put me on an isolation ward.

My first thoughts of this was if they can't tell you what it is and they don't know, it made me very very scared. My worry was at the time my daughters Juliet and Kirsty were 4 and 2 and I was thinking I'm not going to see them grow up. I'm usually very very positive but it's like I didn't know what was happening and nobody seemed to know what was happening, which was very disconcerting.

Eventually I got some people in and they said my spleen was producing something that was destroying the, I think, white blood cells. (I might be wrong on this because am going off memory ) and essentially it was the clotting agent in the blood that was being destroyed.

They eventually told me it was Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a blood disorder characterized by a decrease in the number of platelets in the blood. Platelets are cells in the blood that help stop bleeding. A decrease in platelets can cause easy bruising, bleeding gums, and internal bleeding.

Incidentally it is Global ITP Awareness Week which you can find out about here.

It turned out that at that time, it was mid-80s , there was only possibly one or two other cases in the world

I was told they weren't sure what they were going to do it in fact at the time I wasn't getting much out of anybody you don't like that I was glad that something had been diagnosed .

I had my own room in the hospital, an isolation isolation room because they didn't know what was happening.

I was actually being well looked after by the NHS and my family and friends came in to see me.

My brother-in-law Peter’s father was like a head surgeon at Preston Royal Infirmary at the time and I said

“Peter can you ask your dad to actually get somebody to come in and tell me what's happening “

Within about an hour I had three top guys coming to me, apologetic, and then trying to explain to me what they were going to do, what was going to happen and things just started moving.

They told me that they might have to remove my spleen and they wanted to take some bone marrow from my sternum so I literally had a surgeon with a hammer hammering into my chest pure Dracula scene, to get this bone marrow from my sternum. That hurt but they took it and then they said they were going to try a complete blood transfusion in the hope that that would actually sort me out.

By this time I had got over the worry about not getting through this. My daughter's were coming to see me, and friends and family and things were moving along a bit. I was allowed to actually walk out and this is the time that a couple of the nurses recommended that drinking Guinness was recommended, they said it's full of iron will do you good . So that's where I got my love of Guinness from. I never really liked beer or lager, but did learn to love porter , though I stopped drinking when I became diabetic.

Another funny , well maybe not funny, side effect was we do not realise that when we eat and other things we damage ourselves.

Eating that is a prime example, you damage your throat , it cuts you , but our body repairs itself.

Now my body was not repairing, so I was eating things and obviously it was then bleeding into me which then when I went to the toilet there was more blood coming out.

A funny side effect was that obviously when you shave you cut yourself, So I wasl shaving and cutting myself and it wasn't stopping bleeding (it did eventually) but we decided that the only way to actually continue on was to grow a beard , so my daughters Juliet and Kirsty’s dad had a beard for the first time.

Anyway the upshot of this was blood transfusion worked and I was cured of it, although told I could not give blood, but it's odd that it's caused by something like ‘flu and then a month later you get ITP.

Since then every day I check for minor bruising because I know it could come back and just after the millennium I had a really really bad cold and then 4 weeks later thel bruises reappeared. It didn't help that I just fallen into diabetes as well at the time so that was not good

I went into work and said I've got ITP. I'm going to be off for 2 weeks and gave them information about what it was and then got myself to the RVI in Newcastle and explained what the situation was.

They were unsure because ITP is very uncommon and so I explained what had happened and ended up being in the RVI for about two weeks. This time treatment was with steroids , but again I came through it and that was absolutely brilliant work by the NHS getting me through this.

So although this is for a coming-of-age Vocal competition, it was a life-changing event.

I suppose one of the big things was that it forced me to look after myself, to care for myself and if things are going wrong get myself to the doctor.

It has not reoccurred since then apart from one instance where I did go to the toilet and peed blood .

I went straight to the hospital but it was just a one off.

After that just one incident I've been free of ITP. It really was a traumatic event and I've been lucky to be in the UK ,lucky to have the NHS, and lucky to have so many supportive friends and family. You know who you are.

I am now a grandad, very very proud of my daughter and son-in-law and my beautiful granddaughter Alexis Leia and her lovely cat loving aunt.

When I got ITP at one point I thought that I wouldn't see Juliet and Kirsty grow up

So that is my story of a life changing coming of age, which I have entered in the Vocal Coming of Age Challenge.

Maybe the perfect song title sentiment is “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. I intend to do a lot more. I love you all.

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About the Creator

Mike Singleton - Mikeydred

Weaver of Tales, Poems, Music & Love

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  • Babs Iversonabout a year ago

    Awesome and amazing story!!! Thank you for sharing!!! Left some love!!!

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