1. Having immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) means that your blood doesn’t clot as it should due to a low number of thrombocytes (platelets).
2. The condition is also sometimes called idiopathic or autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura. You know it as ITP.
3. Platelets, which are made in the blood marrow, stick together. This is what lets your blood clot whenever you get bruises or cuts.
4. With ITP, low platelets can make it difficult for you to stop bleeding when you get hurt.
5. Severe bleeding is a real complication of ITP.
6. People might ask you how you “got” ITP. You tell them that it’s an autoimmune condition with unknown causes.
7. People might ask you what an autoimmune disease is. You tell them how autoimmune diseases cause your body to attack its own tissues (in this case, your blood platelets).
8. No, ITP is not contagious. Autoimmune diseases are sometimes genetic, but you may not always get the same type of autoimmune condition as your family members.
9. ITP also makes purpura appear on your skin. A lot.
10. Purpura is a fancy way of saying “bruises.”
11. Sometimes ITP also causes reddish-purplish dotted rashes called petechiae.
12. Lumps of clotted blood under your skin are called hematomas.
13. Your hematologist is one of your closest allies. This type of doctor specializes in blood disorders.
14. You tell your loved ones to get you emergency medical help if you have an injury that won’t stop bleeding.
15. Your gums tend to bleed excessively when you go to the dentist for a cleaning.
16. You might be afraid to sneeze out of fear of starting yet another nosebleed.
17. Menstrual periods can be quite heavy if you’re a woman with ITP.
18. It’s a myth that women with ITP can’t have babies. However, you may be at risk of bleeding when you give birth.
19. Aside from bleeding, you’re extremely fatigued when your blood platelets are low.
20. You’ve lost track of the times people have offered you ibuprofen or aspirin for a headache. These are off-limits because they can make you bleed more.
21. You’re accustomed to the occasional corticosteroids and immunoglobin meds.
22. You may or may not have your spleen anymore. Sometimes people with ITP need to have their spleen removed because it can make antibodies that further destroy your platelets.
23. You sometimes get strange looks for the extra padding on your elbows and knees while riding your bike. You figure better safe than sorry!
24. Your friends may not realize you can’t play football, baseball, and other high-intensity contact sports. You always have a backup plan on hand. (Race around the block, anyone?)
25. Walking is your activity of choice, but you also like swimming, hiking, and yoga. You’re down for anything that’s low-impact.
26. You’re used to being the designated driver. Drinking alcohol simply isn’t worth the risk.
27. Traveling can be more stressful than it is relaxing. Aside from ensuring you have your meds, ID bracelet, and doctor’s notes, you also have a stockpile of compression wraps just in case you get hurt.
28. ITP can be chronic, lasting over a lifetime. But you can experience remission once you achieve and maintain a healthy platelet count.
29. Women are up to three times more likely to have chronic forms of ITP.
30. Bleeding in the brain is also a real fear, though you tell your loved ones that the risk is low.