Stronger! Slimmer! More Energetic–Despite ITP

Daryl went from 305-lb couch potato to 200-lb marathon runner—in just one year! Read his story.

You could call Daryl Abrams a gym rat. He’s there, after all, five days a week. Spinning classes. Boot camp cardio (think: plenty of pull-ups and push-ups). Treadmill and weights. But he’s an outdoor guy, too, so you’re just as likely to spot him spiking a volleyball on the beach near his Manhattan Beach, CA, home, taking an 8-mile jog along the water or walking with wife, Shawna, and their two dogs, Ringo and Marshmallow.

“It started with a spot”
Hard to believe, 14 years ago one red dot blossomed into a constellation of spots over his shoulders that sent him to the emergency room. It turned into the first of seven hospitalizations with ITP, and sent him down a common treatment path. Prednisone. IVIg. Splenectomy. A cancer therapy. And a new medication that increases platelets. Plus, various combos of the above.

After years of trial and error, Daryl is now on maintenance therapy to keep his platelet counts at a safe level. That means stopping by his doctor’s office for a CBC (complete blood count test) every 10 to 14 days. Being vigilant is a must for him, because when his platelets drop, they drop fast—often plummeting from 400,000 to 1,000 in 24 hours—and without warning. He also scans his body after his shower for “bruises or red dots”...and over the past couple years he’s made a major change.

“I fine-tuned my life”
Back in 2011, Daryl weighed in at 305 lbs. Ironically, it wasn’t until he noted how fit Ringo and Marshmallow became after eating the wholesome pet food he and Shawna sell (partyanimalpetfood.com) that Daryl resolved to fine-tune his own diet. Those oversized meals of pizza, penne vodka or cheeseburgers? Gone! Those endless rounds of beer and chips? They’re gone, too! “I pay attention to what goes in my mouth now.” 

“My doctor is like family”
He also became an exercise fiend with a lofty goal—to run a marathon. Daryl credits his doctor for helping him realize it: “In training, I visited her weekly to check my platelets. She’s like a family member,” Daryl explains. “We’re honest and straightforward with each other. There’s nothing I hold back from telling her. To a large extent, my life is in her hands.”

And the dividends? Better energy than ever, greater self-confidence and happiness with how his clothes fit, he answers. And, no small benefit—a sense of control over his ITP, despite its unpredictability. “I live a normal life,” says Daryl. “I don’t think twice about anything I do.”

Published October 2013

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