ITP does not discrimate when it strikes its next victim. It affects the young and old, rich and poor all over the world. Dealing with this blood disorder is no easy task. The fear and frustration of not knowing where the roller coaster will take us next can be daunting.

This blog is for ITPers to express thoughts, feelings and lessons learned during their ride. Send your post to We want to hear from you.

Friday, July 6, 2012

ITP and My New Life

My name is Linda Eschen. I am a wife and mother of four: Chris 22, Sean 16, Tony 13, Jessalyn 11.  I work full time as the librarian at a K-8 charter school in California.  My two youngest, Tony 8th grade and Jessalyn 6th grade go to the same school. 

My ITP story goes quite similar to many others, I started having bruises and nose bleeds, but what actually got me in was when the knuckle on my ring finger turned black…. I thought it was going to fall off…..  My doctor, who I had not seen in years, looked at me and said….. “Have you ever heard of ITP?”  I asked him what it was and he said it was low platelets…..  Well, I HAVE heard that before…… this brings me back to 1998 when Tony was born…

Tony had to be induced, because my body was not happy and Tony was not growing inside as he should. My doctor induced my labor a month early….. Tony came with quite a large amount of bleeding… after staying overnight in labor and delivery being watched very closely, my bleeding finally got under control.  My gynecologist came in and told me that I have low platelets, this was something I was born with, but I looked too good to receive a transfusion and he felt the stress of pregnancy had caused this problem (ITP is common in pregnancy)…..   I forgot all about that as I enjoyed my third son. 

I proceeded to have another pregnancy, did not hear anything about platelets and went about my merry way enjoying my GIRL!!!

So, let’s get back to the doctor visit and ITP…… My doctor sends me to the lab, this being Friday, I asked when I would hear from him, he said “Monday”.  Saturday morning, 7:00a.m. I get a call from my doctor telling me that I have very low platelets (4 thousand) when the normal range is 150 thousand to 400 thousand….  He tells me that I am going to be admitted and that I needed to get there as soon as possible….   When I arrive, my doctor is waiting and starts checking me to see if I am bleeding into my brain.  He tells me that I am going to be receiving a transfusion of IVIG (Intravenous immunoglobulin) and platelets.  And I got my first introduction to steroids….  After receiving my first IV steroids my blood pressure started to rise…. It continued to go up….  During my two day stay, my nurses would freak at how high my blood pressure was, but the doctors knew that the steroids had caused it to go sky high.

Over the next week, I met with my new hematologist at the cancer clinic…. Talk about scary!!!  My numbers which got up to 100 thousand came down in spite of the 60 mg oral steroids.  My hematologist told me he will be doing a week long IVIG where I come to the clinic each day for 6-8 hour transfusions…..  When this was not successful, I came in for a bone marrow biopsy and my hematologist said we were going to wean me off the steroids which were not working.  I was going to be getting four treatments of Rituxan (a cancer medication). 

Rituxan…… my body did not like this medication.  My numbers continue to go between 14 thousand and 28 thousand…  I became very tired and had no appetite.  My hematologist told me that he felt I need to go with the splenectomy because my body was not reacting to stimulus.  By the time I went in for my third transfusion, I was down to 10 thousand and my hematologist said enough!!!

I had my spleen removed, April 3rd this year, my numbers went up and stayed in the normal range.  I am feeling very, very good.  But through all those months, my blood pressure continued to be VERY high.

June 15th, I went to see my General doctor because of my concern with my high blood pressure.  He prescribed blood pressure medication.  I took my very first dose and two hours later, I woke up with the worst chest pains imaginable.  I rushed to the emergency room --- yes….. I was having a HEART ATTACK!!!!

Within 20 minutes of arriving to the emergency room, I was on a procedure table receiving an angioplasty and stent.  What was found was a blood clot that completely blocked my main artery to my heart.  I ask,  “Is this connected to my ITP?”   Well, I am learning that yes, it was connected… 

So, now I am currently recovering from a crazy year of diagnosis of ITP, splenectomy and now heart attack at 51 years of age…. But, through this all, I am going to just grow healthier, smarter and stronger!!!


  1. I hope I have better luck with Rituxan than you did. I know it can take up to 8 weeks to know if it working, so I wait.

    With our little group we will be smarter & stronger!

  2. you bet you are

  3. Hap, it is already looking like your experience with Rituxan is very positive. I am very excited to see how high those Hap happy platelets get!