March 21st, 2010
by Terri Libenson
Back in October, I had reached my last straw. See, for about 6 months I had been getting severe migraines on and off. Which was strange, considering Iâ€™d never had â€˜em before. They were pretty debilitating, causing nausea and occasional blinding auras. Needless to say, it was getting hard to work and take care of the kiddos. Half of the time I was on the couch, fighting the need to upchuck my lunch.
The headaches were becoming so frequent, I went to the doctor (this time insisting it wasnâ€™t sinus-related, as past sinus medications had proven fruitless). At first, she started prescribing migraine meds. But I really didnâ€™t want meds; I really wanted to figure out the cause of this. After an Oscar-worthy pregnant pause, the doctor asked if I wouldnâ€™t mind taking a blood test to rule out anemia or low iron. I agreed and promptly went to the lab to donate my red stuff.
To cut to the chase, after more tests (including an uncomfortable-but-not-as-bad-as-youâ€™d-think bone marrow biopsy), it was concluded that I had a rare blood disease called â€œEssential Thrombocythemia.â€ Basically, thatâ€™s a fancy medical term for â€œmy bone marrow produces so many platelets , they can clump up like bad cake mix.â€
It was, of course, both a relief and a shock. A relief because the doctor prescribed baby aspirin to prevent blood clots, and this essentially (no pun intended) cured the migraines. A shock because at any time, my platelet count could increase and Iâ€™d have to go on special chemo-type meds. Also, this disease can mutate into one of three other more dire and unsavory related blood diseases.
But I choose to look on the bright side: it makes for some compelling cartoon material. Like a sneering, cosmic challenge: â€œLetâ€™s see you turn THIS into something amusing!â€
So I did.
Well, I hope so anyway. If anything, it was another cathartic event for the author.
And on that note, this series compels me to post a link to two foundations: the MPD Foundation and the MDS Foundation. E.T. is a called an â€œorphan diseaseâ€ because itâ€™s so rare and therefore kind of falls under the radar for funding/research. And the three other myelodysplastic (blood) disorders certainly deserve funding as well, considering one or two of them come with limited life expectancy.
So if you can and are willing to help out the future of one slightly freaked-out cartoonist, please do so by making a contribution. Or at least by reading the fascinating case studies (hmm, maybe thatâ€™s just me — chalk it up to personal significance).
In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the series. And really, Iâ€™m not that freaked out. Frankly, Iâ€™m too busy to worry.
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