Sharion Smith

Patient

In December 2010, when I experienced my first episode of TTP, I had just found temporary work that had potential to become permanent and was dealing with some family issues. To say I was extremely stressed at the time would have been an understatement.

Most of my coworkers were suffering from a stomach virus, which I thought I may have picked up as well. My head ached constantly and my stomach hurt to the point of taking a lot of acidophilus. I tried drinking lots of chocolate milk and scheduled an ultrasound of my abdomen. Unfortunately, my ultrasound appointment could not be scheduled before January.

On Friday, January 11, 2011, I arrived at work at 7 am as usual. I turned on my terminal and suddenly realized that I could not remember my password, which was really odd. As I sat there, I started to realize that my left arm was going numb and all I could think was “I can’t be sick or go home, I needed this job”. I stayed at work that morning until 11:00 am, trying to figure out what was wrong. Finally, I gave up and told my supervisor that I was ill and went home for the day. I ended up sleeping until Saturday afternoon.

When I awoke on Saturday, my head hurt so much I could feel it pulsating hard. I was out of water pills I had been taking and thought maybe this was the reason for the headache. I hadn't been paid yet so I asked my mother to borrow money so that I could go and get medication. She obliged and gave me her debit card. I put the card inside of my bra so I would know where it was but when I got to Walmart, I had no idea where the card was. I retraced my steps for over an hour looking for it.

To no avail, I gave up and drove to my sister's apartment, where I was staying. When I got back, I parked the car and walked up to the door and knocked but no one answered. This was really odd as my mother is homebound so I knew she had to be there. I knocked on the door on and off for two hours before I noticed I was at the wrong apartment! This really shook me up....I knew where I lived!

When I finally got home, I informed my mother that I lost her card. On a whim I felt my bra and there was the card! I really thought I was losing it at this point!

My mother and sister noticed that the left side of my face was drooping and told me I needed to go the ER. I thought they were just exaggerating as usual, so I declined and went to try to sleep it off.

When I woke up on Sunday, I knew something was terribly wrong. I felt like I was looking at myself from the outside... I know that may sound weird, but that's how it felt. My head felt like it was going to explode! I decided now I really needed to see a doctor so I drove myself to the ER. When I arrived, I told the nurses that I thought I was having a stroke. I couldn't remember my name, the date, year or anything else for that matter. They did a CT scan of my brain that showed two ischemic attacks. After a battery of tests were done and they had settled me, a Hematologist came to see me about my diagnosis. The Hematologist told me I had TTP and my platelets were 8,000. They proceeded to inserted a groin catheter for treatment and by Sunday evening, my platelets were up to 140,000. Because of my immediate response to treatment, they sent me home asking that I come back the next day (Monday) for a CV catheter.

When I got up that Monday, I just couldn't get it together. I felt like everything I was doing was in slow motion. I went to hospital with orders I had been given in my hand. I went to the lab, surgery and to the interventional radiology department and no one knew anything! I was tired, weak and angry! I decided to go find my doctor and when I did he profusely apologized for the run around I had experienced. I remained in the hospital until the end of February because my platelets would not stabilize.

After being released, my stomach continued to hurt. This lasted about a year, which made me a nervous wreck. I did not want to end up back in the hospital. Other than my stomach, none of the other symptoms presented again until April 2012.

I was driving in evening traffic and my eyes suddenly went really blurry. I thought I may have to pull over, but after a few blinks they cleared. The next day I experienced more visual anomalies that would not clear and so I headed to the ER as a precaution. Sure enough, I was experiencing a relapse. During my this hospitalization I was given the chemotherapy drug, Rituxan, and released after one week, followed by two weeks of outpatient treatments.

I've been relapse free since then! I still don't feel like myself but praying that was the last time I experience a TTP episode.

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