March 21st, 2010

Blood Disorders and all that gooey nonsense…

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 I’d never had ‘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.

SUN_HelpArt

The headaches were becoming so frequent, I went to the doctor (this time insisting it wasn’t sinus-related, as past sinus medications had proven fruitless). At first, she started prescribing migraine meds. But I really didn’t want meds; I really wanted to figure out the cause of this. After an Oscar-worthy pregnant pause, the doctor asked if I wouldn’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-you’d-think bone marrow biopsy), it was concluded that I had a rare blood disease called “Essential Thrombocythemia.” Basically, that’s a fancy medical term for “my bone marrow produces so many platelets , they can clump up like bad cake mix.”

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 I’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: “Let’s see you turn THIS into something amusing!”

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 “orphan disease” because it’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 that’s just me — chalk it up to personal significance).

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the series. And really, I’m not that freaked out. Frankly, I’m too busy to worry.

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