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Low Platelet Count - My Blood Stopped Clotting.

Updated on March 26, 2015

My Blood Stopped Clotting.

My doctor said that I had a low platelet count due to ITP.
My doctor said that I had a low platelet count due to ITP. | Source

Pin Point Hemmorages On Skin

Thrombocytopenia is the sign of relatively low platelets in the blood.
Thrombocytopenia is the sign of relatively low platelets in the blood. | Source

Bruising - another ITP symptom

Bruising appear on skin
Bruising appear on skin | Source

My Gums Were Bleeding

ITP causes the gums to bleed, even when you brush as normal .
ITP causes the gums to bleed, even when you brush as normal . | Source

I Felt Bumps On The Inside Of My Mouth Too.

I was hemorrhaging into my skin everywhere, even in my mouth.
I was hemorrhaging into my skin everywhere, even in my mouth. | Source

My symptoms

It was a Friday morning, I was applying skin cream after my usual shower, when I noticed these tiny red spots on my arm. They looked like pin pricks, they didn't feel bumpy, and looked, sort of, like an upside down rash. They didn't itch or pain either.

I was puzzled, but only for a couple of minutes, I remember thinking that the itching might come later.

I also felt as if something was not right, I had felt as if I was missing a point. Plus I felt like I had no energy. and thought that I needed to get an extra sleep-in to solve the sluggish feeling, but I had a 6 and a 7 year old to take care of, so no chance of that happening!

I also noticed the bluish bruise-like mark on my left outer thigh, but since it didn't hurt, I puzzled over when I could've come by it. I used to bruise easily back then, so that wasn't unusual either.

My gums bled again that morning when I brushed my teeth, that has been happening for a while too. Once again I reminded myself to make a dental appointment, although I wasn't due for a dental visit, I thought that maybe it was gingivitis. Also, bumps kept appearing and disappearing on the walls of my mouth, but since they didn't hurt it didn't bother me.

On that Sunday morning, whilst I was brushing my teeth, the symptoms became more prevalent. My gums never stopped bleeding and they felt swollen. I did become alarmed when I kept spitting up all that blood. My doctor's office was closed on Sundays and since there was no pain, I waited until Monday to go see my family doctor.

Take it from me, doctors do not like when you do not pay attention to your body's warning signs the way I ignored mine! Two minutes into the appointment, she stopped and started dialing, she was calling for an ambulance!

She sent me to the Emergency right then!

She allowed me to make phone calls from her office to make arrangements for my kids to be picked up from school, I had to wait on the ambulance anyway.

Blood samples

Vials of human blood samples.
Vials of human blood samples. | Source

X-ray image of spleen

An X and an arrow marks the position of the spleen in the chest cavity
An X and an arrow marks the position of the spleen in the chest cavity | Source

The Tests

At the ER, I was wheeled to a bed, helped into it, the rails went up and I was told to remain there. Blood samples were taken there, even registration was done with me, in bed!

After registration, I was wheeled to X-ray and back.

I asked the attendant, who had wheeled me to X-ray, about the precautions and he informed me that I could bleed to death if I slipped and fell, so I heeded their caution and called a nurse whenever I needed to go to the bathroom.

I was in a bit of a daze or shock, (couldn't decide which I was feeling at that time), and trepidation was slowly setting in.

Later on in the day, a young Hematology specialist came to ask questions about my sex life. I got intensely annoyed when he repeatedly asked me if I am sure that my husband was my only sexual partner.

I glared at him after he's asked for the fourth or fifth time. I knew what he was driving at. Something is seriously wrong and it was my fault!

But, apparently, some of my symptoms are the same for certain sexually transmitted diseases, and he wanted to ascertain whether that was the problem or not.

Bone Marrow Biopsy

needle getting sample of bone marrow
needle getting sample of bone marrow | Source

Platelets in Blood Plasma Comparison

Platelet rich human blood plasma in the left vial. Plasma with a low platelet count in the right vial.
Platelet rich human blood plasma in the left vial. Plasma with a low platelet count in the right vial. | Source

Bone Marrow Biopsy

After the initial flurry of activities that was triggered by my arrival in the E.R earlier that day, I was advised to get some rest, and, apart from the nurse who was checking up on me periodically, I was left in peace to worry and ponder the previous 3 days.

My husband visited, and I explained the events that led up to me being in the hospital. While we were talking, an elderly gentleman came and introduced himself to us and stated that my blood platelet count was low and asked me if he could do a bone marrow biopsy.

He explained that is was necessary to rule out leukemia, although, from talking to me he said that he didn't think that I do have that. He then obtained the sample and thanked me.

Before he left he admitted me to the hospital for a transfusion platelets and observation and said that he'll discuss my results in the morning.

The Bone Marrow Biopsy was done by inserting a special needle into my breast bone all the way to the hollow part of the bone where the soft tissue (called marrow) is found. My doctor then obtained a small amount of the soft bone tissue, with the needle to get it analyzed for any signs of abnormalities.

This was done after sanitizing and numbing the area and then covering it up after getting the sample. My doctor had said that I might feel a pinch but I didn't feel anything. I wasn't feeling much by that time

Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura

There are fewer platelets in the blood of a patient with I. T. P
There are fewer platelets in the blood of a patient with I. T. P | Source

My Platelets Were Being Destroyed In My Spleen

Splenomegaly is an enlargement of the spleen.
Splenomegaly is an enlargement of the spleen. | Source

My Doctor's Plan Of Action.

I was discharged with a with new prescription orders to fill.
I was discharged with a with new prescription orders to fill. | Source

No Slip And Fall.

I should not walk on icy or other slippery surface.
I should not walk on icy or other slippery surface. | Source

Diagnosis and Treating the Problem

I woke up early the next morning, or so I thought, my doctor was sitting there waiting when I turned to get out of bed and I guess no one woke me up, on his request.

The results of all the tests revealed that I had developed a condition called Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura or I. T. P for short. It is a blood disorder where one's blood can bleed out causing death, if left untreated.

This happens when there are too few platelets ( the clotting agent) in the blood. In my case, my blood platelets are being stored and destroyed in my spleen.

The spleen usually only store one third of the body's platelets.

For reasons unknown my spleen started storing most of my blood platelets and this had caused it become enlarged. As a result, there were a very small number of platelets in my bloodstream.

The count was 4,000 platelets to one micro litre of blood! A normal person's blood platelet count is 150,000 to 450,000 per micro litre of blood.

Why it happened?

Since I didn't get a cold or any of the other viral illnesses that usually trigger it, that question remained unanswered.

My doctor laid out his plan for my treatment and over the next 4 days I was given my new medications intravenously and my progress was closely monitored for signs of improvement. Which became evident towards the end of that week, I didn't see my doctor's smile before so I knew there was improvement.

He said that my blood platelet count was back up, said that it was probably the bed rest that helped immensely. The results were good enough for me to go home, which I did, with some precautionary advice -

  1. I should not walk on icy or slippery surface.
  2. I should avoid or be extremely careful with sharp objects.
  3. Do not bump into things.
  4. Get as much rest as I can (this seems to help stop the bleeding).
  5. Do not do any weightlifting (he had prescribed corticosteroids).
  6. If my period becomes too heavy go to the emergency.
  7. Fill the prescriptions right away.

Blood cells with platelet

Red blood cell (left), platelet (center),white blood cell (right).
Red blood cell (left), platelet (center),white blood cell (right). | Source

A New Medication

Gamma Globulins
Gamma Globulins | Source

Intrauterine Device

Hormonal IUD
Hormonal IUD | Source

ITP Bruise On My Arm

Bruises on my arm
Bruises on my arm | Source

Recurrence

Our family decided to get together at my house for our Christmas dinner that year, they brought all the festive necessities. A decision that was supposed to save me the hassle of getting out of the house, so naturally as usual, I panicked and started cleaning! Miss Spic an' Span!

Yeah, self preservation was not one of my redeeming qualities back then.

It should have been!

I insisted on staying up to help with the clean up too and after Boxing Day the bleeding started again.

I didn't hesitate I called my family doctor right away and describe what happened. Again I had to go to the ER, this time I was admitted, tested and placed in a room until my doctor came to see me the next day.

He explained my blood test results and placed me on a new treatment plan added to the one in place.

I felt like I had let him down.

Plus, I had to stay in the hospital all through the New Year's celebration, alone.

The new medication had to be taken at the hospital every two weeks and he would monitor it's effects through blood tests and appointments every week.

Although the results were favourable, it was not what was acceptable. In March of the year 2000 my period came and it was heavy which I was told to expect so I tended to it accordingly.

That was until I realized that it wasn't stopping!

My doctor had gone on March break and was due to return in a couple of days so I waited. This time she measured my blood loss by how many boxes of pads I had used (10 - 13 per day)and how many days my period had gone on for (10 days).

My husband came and took me to the ER this time, we registered and was told to wait, I was so weak that I fell asleep. I woke up in time to change pads, the last one I had with me, so I went to ask why I didn't see the doctor as yet.

Turned out the ER nurses didn't believe me when I told her who my doctor was so she slid my registration to the bottom of the pile. Once I realized that and raised a ruckus they contacted my doctor, he was so angry!

Apparently my family doctor had alerted him to the situation since 4pm, it was then 10pm when they let him know that I was in the ER. They told him that I didn't say that I was his patient, I did tell her! Also, it was on my registration form!

Anyway, he ordered a full blood transfusion and at 3am a couple of gynecologist came to see me about my intrauterine device contraception as probable cause for my extreme menstruation.

A visit to my gynecologist a couple of days later confirmed that it was not in place. The conjecture was that, together with my illness at the time, my IUD was the cause of the extremely excessive menstruation and that it was to be removed to prevent it from happening again.

But since it was not there anymore my conjecture is that it was probably pushed out by the heavy menstrual flow which in turn caused a tear that lead to my nearly bleeding to death in the ER.

Laparoscopic Splenectomy

Laparoscopic Splenectomy port position
Laparoscopic Splenectomy port position | Source

Surgery

Nine months after the whole ordeal began, I underwent a Laparoscopic Splenectomy. My next visit to my hematology "hero" revealed that my platelet count was back up to normal.

Cause for celebration? Oh yeah!!

It has been more than 10 years and I am still happy that I allowed my spleen to be separated from my body. Of course I do have to be exceptionally careful not to compromise what is left of my immune system.

I have included some information below. This is from my research, it helped me to understand what the doctors were saying, which organs were involved and what they were going to do next about my situation at that time.

I hope it helps those you to understand this hub and its all of its contents

Comparison - Normal and ITP Blood Platelet Count

My blood platelet count was 4000 to one micro litre of blood.
My blood platelet count was 4000 to one micro litre of blood. | Source

Our Body's Immune System

Our immune system is the part of our body that recognizes anything that's foreign and try to get rid of it. And it does this through an amazing network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to defend us from invading viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins and microbes.

We have physical barriers such as our skin, the corneas of our eyes and the membrane lining.

We also have various organs that secretes sweat, tears and mucus which contains enzymes that destroys bacteria. And we have the lymph organs, one of which is the Spleen.

The Organs of The Immune System.

The organs of the immune system are positioned throughout our body.
The organs of the immune system are positioned throughout our body. | Source

Our Spleen.

The spleen, as you can see in the picture above, it is located in the upper left area of the abdomen. It is soft in texture, purple in color and it is shaped like a small catcher's mitt. It is about the size of a person's fist and it's primary role is to act as a filter.

The spleen is made up of 2 different types of tissue:-

  1. The white pulp, which is part of the infection fighting or immune system.
  2. The red pulp, which filters the blood to remove unwanted materials.

Blood flows through the spleen, and as it does, "quality control" is performed . The red pulp is able to detect and filter out any old, worn, malformed and damaged red blood cells, while the healthy blood cells just pass through and onto circulation. And the white pulp in produces antibodies that serves as the Spleen's immune function by detecting and fighting off toxic bacteria and viruses that enter our body.

It also, stores up to about one cup of blood in case of trauma.

A Cross Section Of The Spleen.

Cross section of the Spleen. You can see the red and white pulp along with the the arteries and veins.
Cross section of the Spleen. You can see the red and white pulp along with the the arteries and veins. | Source

The components of blood and their importance

Components of blood

Centrifugal separation of Blood
Centrifugal separation of Blood | Source

Components Of Blood

Source

The Blood

Blood is one of the connective tissues in the body, it is the only liquid tissue and it connects every part of our body. There are four components that makes up the blood, they are :-

  1. Red blood cells. Latin name Erythrocytes.
  2. White blood cells.Latin name Leukocytes.
  3. Platelets. Latin name Thrombocytes
  4. Plasma. This is the pale yellow liquid component of blood.

Some of the functions of the blood are :-

  1. To carry oxygen and nutrients to all the cells in the body.
  2. Take carbon dioxide and wastes from the tissues to the lungs and kidneys to be removed from the body.
  3. To regulate body temperature by removing heat from active areas such as the armpits.
  4. To prevent fluid loss when blood vessels are damaged.
  5. To protect the body from attacking microorganisms that cause disease .

I am focusing on the platelet component of the blood.

A Blood Platelet

Platelets are small tissues that are present in the blood and are necessary for blood clotting and fighting infection.
Platelets are small tissues that are present in the blood and are necessary for blood clotting and fighting infection. | Source

Blood Platelets

Platelets are not blood cells, they are small cell fragments and they are irregularly shaped. They help with blood clotting, when we get injured they gather at the site of the injury by sticking to the lining of the injured blood vessel to form a barrier to allow blood coagulation. This would form a fibrin clot to cover the wound to prevent blood from flowing out. Fibrin also form the ground support for new tissue growth, to start the healing process.

Below, is a video about Platelets, I found it to be very a lighthearted and informative way to draw attention to a very deep and complicated medical topic. You will see that it is not lacking in accuracy. It is a series of three cartoons, all about platelets in the blood. Hope you have fun watching it.

This video is owned by www.procidis.com

Once upon a time... Life - The tiny platelets (1 of 3)

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      16 months ago

      Wow I have been experiencing bleeding gums and it hurts too. I don't think its because I brush my teeth hard. Perhaps it could be a cavity, but I hope not. My gums have been bleeding for two weeks now, but I have a dentist appointment soon anyways.

    • skperdon profile image
      Author

      skperdon 16 months ago from Canada

      Thank for your comment N. I do hope you get well soon and that you visit your doctor soon if the bleeding gums don't stop after your visit to the dentist.

      Get well soon!

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