Real Life: How One Woman Thrives—Despite ITP

By Michelle Ponte

By her own account, Lib E. is living her best year yet. In the past six months, the 54-year-old glass artist from Pamplin, VA, has explored China, learned how to ride a bicycle and married a “wonderful man.” Much of it is thanks to a new treatment that helps her body’s bone marrow produce more platelets. The result? Her platelet counts are holding steady at 50,000 and higher.

The road’s been a long one for Lib, who experienced symptoms long before she was diagnosed in 1987 at age 30. “Early in my first marriage I had a nosebleed that lasted 3½ hours.” Things didn’t get much better after learning she had ITP. There was no Internet and no community of ITP sufferers, “so I felt pretty alone.” And a succession of treatments, including a splenectomy, “had no impact on my count.” Her platelet counts dropped to well below 10,000, "making the simplest things a problem,” says Lib. “When I was doing secretarial work, the worst job was loading paper into a copy machine because of the paper cuts.”

Yet the self-described “hard head” refused to let ITP control her life. “I took the attitude that I'm going to live my life as close to normal as I can,” says Lib.

Then, in 2007, came a wake-up call: “I had what I believed was a sinus headache, which lasted several weeks.” It turned out to be a brain hemorrhage. “I realized it could stroke you out … and that shook me up.”

She found a doctor closer to home, which eventually led to the treatment that’s changed her life: “My husband lets me chop vegetables again,” and these days she’s even skiing. It’s proof, says, Lib, that “I may have ITP, but ITP doesn’t have me.”

Published July 2011

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