ITP Can’t Stop Highschool Senior
November 13th, 2014; posted by: WeBleed Staff
“The hardest part for me is not being able to wrestle during my senior year,” John told the Elk Grove Citizen. “This was the year I wanted to go varsity and do tournaments and stuff. I can’t do any of that now and it’s very hard to accept.”
17 year-old Elk Grove High School senior, John Phillips, was excited about entering his senior year and trying out for the varsity wrestling team. Having wrestled since the sixth grade he had high hopes for the upcoming season – those hopes were dashed when he was diagnosed on his 17th birthday with Idiopathic (Immune) Thrombocytopenia Purpura, commonly referred to as ITP.
The teenager had been suffering from fatigue for weeks and had noticed the appearance of unexplained “polka dot” shaped bruises (petichiae) under his skin. The day he was taken to the hospital he was coughing up blood.
A normal platelet count is between 150,000 and 400,000 – John’s was 7,000.
John was prescribed Prednisone in the early days of his treatment but the drug carries with it a lengthy list of possible side effects (high blood pressure, headache, hives, Osteoporosis, stomach ulcers, water retention, muscle weakness, Pancreatitis, dizziness, allergic shock, Erythema, Myopathy, Convulsion, Esophageal inflammation, Hyperhidrosis, Abdominal distension, Eccymosis, poor wound healing, thin skin, etc.) that took its toll on him.
The last few months of Junior year were terrible because of the Prednisone. I was set off by the most trivial things and my stomach transformed into a bottomless pit. At home, my hunger took over. I would eat all night until I went to sleep. Then, I would wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning and not be able to go back to sleep. I didn’t have the energy to do anything besides lay around and eat. These poor habits caused me to gain 18 pounds in a month. I still have stretch marks from it and still experience bouts of Roid Rage. – says John in an excerpt from his gofundme.com page.
John now receives intraveneous gamma globulin, which is a liquid concentrate of antibodies made from the plasma of healthy blood donors. His current platelet level is still below “normal” and sits at 25,000, but that hasn’t stopped John.
He has started a support group in Northern California and partnered with Blood Source for their blood plasma campaign. The experience has also helped him to realize his future, “Prednisone influenced my decision to become a hematologist. I always wanted to be a doctor, but I wasn’t sure what field I wanted to specialize in,” John states on the site he started to help raise money for his medical bills, an educational trip to England, and funds for the Platelet Disorder Support Association.
“After my experience with ITP, I’m driven to help other people with the roller coaster ride that is this autoimmune disease and the journey to find the right treatment. A treatment that doesn’t have so many terrible side effects. I also hope to find, or aid in finding, a cure for autoimmune diseases.”
In addition, John is now taking swing dancing and guitar lessons and even though he can no longer wrestle, John now helps to manage the team.
“Now every day at practice I just sit and watch the others wrestle. But I still enjoy being a part of the team.”
For more about John and his story or to donate to John’s causes please visit: http://www.gofundme.com/eyb03g
Best of luck, John! The staff here at webleed.org are rooting for you!
Photo credit: John Phillips
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