See those? Those are platelets, those little things are what I, you, my parents, my doctors, the kid next door, have all been worrying over for about the past year. What's funny, though, is that the only people NOT worrying about my platelets have been my hematologists. This is what I learned today:
If I do, in fact, have ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), what that means is that for some reason, my body has covered some of my platelets with a coating that says "BAD ICKY CELL!" Seeing this, my immune system will send out antibodies to seek out and destroy the platelets, even though they have done no wrong. This is why my levels normally chill out around the 60-100 range (which as I told you before, doctors don't like but they don't get too scared about). However, if I were to get sick (say, with bronchitis or a head cold or any other kind of viral illness) my whole immune system would turn on and my platelets would be caught in the the Shock and Awe prowess of my mighty antibodies. The two times that my platelet levels were so low they worried doctors were times when I was either sick or just getting over being sick. Aha!
So Doctor Weber (who is just as nice as Doctor Carlson - what is it with hematologists being so damn nice?) took a look at my file, took a blood sample (back up to 69!) and suggested that I wait about three months and come back to see how things look. Now, seeing how I don't have insurance right now, but might at the start of September, nobody wants to diagnose me with anything. Also - the diagnosis for ITP is one of process of elimination. If I don't have ANYTHING else that could possibly explain my low platelet count, then yes - yes I do have ITP. What that would mean is that they would have to test me for about a billion other things, including HIV, Lupus, and get a bone marrow sample. Once again, due to the insurance issue, why don't we wait until I AM covered before shelling out money for tests, hmm?
But Doctor Weber said that I could come in once a month, if I wanted, just to have my blood tested and check on the platelet levels. He talked about spontaneous hemorrhaging and how I probably wasn't really in any real danger because that normally only occurs if something provokes it - like an ovarian cyst rupturing or taking too much advil (something I should keep in mind and stick to tylenol). He said that a lot of people get more worked up than they should when it comes to platelet levels, but it is always good to be aware and keep track of what those levels are. Other doctors would probably have made me take steroids, and if that didn't help, remove my spleen. If that didn't help, they would have ordered chemotherapy. However, Hematologists seem to be more relaxed and sensible about these things, realize that as long as the lows are brief and that the levels will rise, the best course of action is just to be vigilant and smart. So no knife juggling for me, but also no surgery down the road either.
In short - my platelets? Still low. My new hematologist? Very nice and easy going, much like Dr. Carlson. My outlook? Vague. *shakes the magic Meg ball again* Oh, wait, sorry - my outlook is good. Really good.