An unexpected turn of events…

So I’d been a bit more tired from early July but then had been particularly busy at work, both complementary and conventional.  I’d also noticed that I’d been more irritable with the kids but again put that down to tiredness.  Still, make hay while the sun shines, I was thinking – and anyway, I’ve got a couple of weeks booked off in August.

Showering on the morning of 25th July I discovered a purple pinhead rash on the inside of my left forearm.  No itch or soreness – just peculiar but not alarming as I’d spent the previous day clearing out old papers from my office, so thought I had probably got a reaction to the dust.  However, the next morning the rash had spread over both arms and legs and as I also felt tired and a bit queasy on and off throughout the morning, booked an appointment at the GP surgery for late afternoon, where they also took some blood tests.  Typically, by then I was feeling fine in myself, though the rash persisted.

Then at 9.30pm that evening came the bolt from the blue – the phone went from the out-of-hours doctor telling me that as my platelet count was extremely low – 4 instead of in the normal range of 150-400! – I needed to get myself to the hospital in the next 10 minutes!  So no fear or stress…

Once they checked me over at the hospital I was admitted and finally arrived on a ward shortly before 2am.  The combination of anxiety and exhaustion meant ‘fitful’ was not the word for the quality of sleep, though Aconite, Arnica and Arsenicum certainly helped to some extent.  Early Wednesday morning more blood was taken, by which time the count was 3.

Diagnosis – immune thrombocytopenia (the rash being idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura) – in other words I’m producing antibodies against my own platelets;

Treatment (conventional) – high-dose steroids first line (plus gut protection from a PPI) for 2-4 weeks until count returns to normal, then withdrawal;

Prognosis (conventional) – 40-50% respond to steroid treatment and never have another episode the rest of their lives; the vast majority of those not responding to steroids will respond to other treatments;

Cause (conventional) – sometimes medication, possibly viral, otherwise unknown.

The cause

Aaahhh…. the cause….

Well, I didn’t have anything else to do (except sleep but not easy in that environment), so immediately started thinking long and hard about the metaphor of the illness and why I was doing it.  According to Louise Hay (“Heal Your Body”), blood represents “joy in the body, flowing freely” and conversely blood problems represent “lack of joy”.  And, of course,  the ultimate consequence of having no platelets would mean not being able to stop bleeding.

Now we’ve all had our share of disappointments and regrets over time.  The question is, what do you do with them?  Sure, some are easily brushed off but others are harder to let go of and leave their wounds, depending on their associations. Deep sorrow will affect you deeply; exactly where depends on your area of susceptibility and its metaphor (according to holistic thought).  For me, the metaphor was attacking myself over past regrets at the marrow of my being in order to bleed my heart out, rather than accept the joy of what I have in every present moment; you know, all the basic stuff that’s actually the only truly important stuff there is, like family, love, life, etc.  Ok, I know that sounds overly melodramatic but that’s what made sense to me at the time.  Of course, it still could be “just a virus” or a reaction to H. pylori infection but after 14 years of experience as a professional homeopath, I’d rather hedge my bets, thanks.

Welcome to the present moment. Here. Now. The only moment there ever is. ~ Eckhart Tolle

So my belief is that ultimately this manifestation of symptoms is/was all down to past regrets and disappointments that I’ve wallowed in over the years and not allowed myself to move on from.  I always knew it was a waste of time doing that but still did it anyway; to have it manifested physically is obviously the only way I’m going to finally pay attention – I then have the choice of whether I want to carry on down the same destructive path or truly change things.  It’s been interesting how many people I’ve spoken to about this since have said how familiar that sounds for them, too…!

It all depends on you. You can go on sleeping forever, or you can wake up right this moment. ~ Osho

So in order to truly heal from this, and to allow the conventional treatment to have its best chance (because according to the consultant there’s always a chance I might not respond to steroids) I needed to address the probable cause with appropriate homeopathy from the outset, whilst still following the conventional treatment because, whether you agree with this or not, I have no problem running complementary and conventional treatments together (that’s why I describe them as complementary!  I know full well how suppressive steroid treatment is but would rather use all complementary knowledge at my disposal to minimise the suppressive impact of these drugs and deal with what I perceive to be the true cause whilst making sure that I maximise my chance of not bleeding to death!  Although there is no underlying philosophy for understanding health and disease in the conventional medical model (apart from germ theory), I realised many years ago that denying it has any value at all carries with it the danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and is no better than the outright rejection of homeopathy “on principle” by its detractors.).

In addition, I started self-testing and correcting with kinesiology techniques, focusing on the major priority circuit for the body each time, and initially cleared stress in the liver meridian (emotional), and thymus gland (structural) – no real surprises there.  Then on top of that, affirmations and psychological reversal to back up the homeopathy and allow my body to work with the steroids too!

After all that work, and strange looks from my fellow patients as I was doing the kinesiology, the next morning the platelet count was up to 5.

A dental connection?

No self-treatment on the Thursday and on Friday the count was down to 2.  More kinesiology followed and of particular interest was the discovery of a bone marrow imbalance that linked to the tempero-mandibular joint (TMJ).  Imbalance in the TMJ can throw almost any other aspect of the body out of balance with it.  Usually the cause is emotional stress but as I also had a dental check up on the 19th July, which included bilateral jaw x-rays, I really wonder if this was a significant additional factor.  Medically there is said to be less radiation from dental x-rays than a day in the sun but, as most complementary therapists will tell you, anything radiological can interfere with the normal communication systems in the body and change your normal response.

So after clearing the TMJ imbalance myself, on Saturday the count was up to 6.  (Two doses of a medium potency radiation combination, 12 hours apart, were subsequently taken over the weekend to deal with the possible radiation factor.)

Following that, I just kept an eye on things but no further corrections or remedies were required (according to my self-testing), although by the beginning of the following week sleep deprivation was becoming my main concern due to all the activity on the ward at nights!

Home

On the Tuesday, one week after admission, I was discharged from hospital with the platelet count finally up to 10!  Three days after discharge the count was 58 (the benefits of home-cooking, decent sleep and being back with family!!), at which level I was allowed to drive again, and at the time of writing has now reached the dizzy heights of 266!  The high-dose steroids continue for a while longer before gradual withdrawal to minimise the risk of relapse.

Fortunately, throughout all this experience I’ve not been as ill as an extremely low platelet count would suggest.  If it wasn’t for the rash, some corking bruises where blood’s been taken, the record of the platelet count itself and that fact I’ve got a prescription to take every day with its own particular set of side-effects, the potential severity of the diagnosis has felt bizarrely at odds with how I’ve actually been in myself.

The next chapter of this story will be the withdrawal of the steroids, where I’ll find out just how effective the various interventions have been in dealing with the true cause of this!  No doubt there will be more work to do; but this is just the beginning of a new journey and the end of an old one.

Begin at once to live and count each separate day as a separate life. ~ Seneca

Support

I cannot finish without expressing how greatly touched and appreciative I’ve been with the messages of goodwill and support I’ve received from all those I’ve spoken to since the start of this whole experience. As I believe is the case with most people, you like to think that what you do for others, whether through work or not, makes a positive difference to their lives but there is always the tendency towards a certain degree of self-doubt. However, the good wishes I have received have been truly uplifting, so thanks to all for these.

Other lessons

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.”  How apt the title of that book is.  This was my first time spent as a hospital in-patient in my life and whilst I was pretty scared of being in that environment, and having a whole host of other possible investigations, diagnoses and treatments going round my head (I was getting a few concerned looks whenever my blood pressure was taken for the first few days), there was nothing else I could do.  Puts other fears into perspective…

Several others I met in hospital also knew that their illnesses had deeper meanings behind them.  For example. the elderly man in the bed opposite with the heart problem and emphysema, who said that his symptoms were all down to losing his wife 6 months before.  And the chap a few years older than me in the next bed, whose constant headaches were under investigation, was convinced that his stressful job had caused his symptoms.

The excellence of all the staff I encountered in my brief stay.  Regardless of your view of the nature of the treatment practised in the hospital environment, the concern and dedication of the staff working in that modality is usually beyond question (yes, there are exceptions but none that I met during my stay).

Food as fuel vs food as nutrition.  Hospital food should be about promoting healing, surely….??  (But then how else do you cater for around 700 people three times a day, 7 days a week?)

Thanks to Zen Moments for all inspirational quotes.

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6 comments on “An unexpected turn of events…”

  1. Frank Reply

    Thank you for this recount of your experience, I have been looking for similar accounts because I have currently been told I have ITP and am on Dexmethasine tablets for a few days. They have already started working. My platelets went from 17 to 43 after 1 day. Hopefully no relapse. Again , thank you for sharing your experience. It gave me peace of mind

    • chris Reply

      Hi Frank. I’m glad you found this helpful. And impressed to hear you’ve had such a rapid response to the steroids!

      In the interests of full disclosure, I have had two relapses following the initial episode. The first was in November 2014, following an extremely stressful month at work. This resolved well with prednisolone only and I subsequently changed my work arrangements thereafter, having been somewhat blasé about the original episode being a ‘one-off’!

      The second was in July 2016, though this didn’t feel like a ‘true’ relapse: first, because it happened within a week of starting a herbal tincture (I believe it was the inclusion of ceanothus that caused it, since this has an affinity for the spleen); and second, because I felt really well despite the low platelet count. Again, this resolved well with prednisolone and I made the decision then that I was going to make sure this was my last relapse, since I’d had more intense steroid side effects that time, which I have no desire to experience again.

      And that has proven to be the case so far. Since that last episode I’ve improved my diet (cutting out wheat, dairy and sugar as far as possible), get 7-8 hours of sleep each night (and make sure I ‘catch up’ if I have a late night), have regular (monthly/ bimonthly) complementary therapy sessions to clear various stresses, and pay proper attention to how I’m feeling and act accordingly. I’m aware I could do better with taking more exercise but I’m already over a year past the predicted relapse date given by the haematologist and feeling well, despite the self-inflicted stress of moving house just before Christmas!

      I’m increasingly convinced that stress plays perhaps the biggest part in this kind of illness, so look after yourself and keep well. Best wishes, Chris

  2. Sharla Reply

    Thanks for the article Chris!
    I’m hunting down any information i can about complementary therapies to heal my ITP before we have to resort to splenectomy.
    What therapies have been useful to you for clearing stress and emotions kept inside?
    Any other information you may be able to offer would be very much welcomed too!
    I’ve been off dairy, wheat and sugar for about a month.

    • chris Reply

      Hi Sharla

      I am so sorry – I have only just seen your question/ comment on my ITP post as I’ve not logged into my site for a couple of months.

      I hope all is going ok with you. Have you gone ahead with splenectomy in the meantime?

      To be honest, I think anything you find therapeutic or have a resonance with is worth pursuing – reflexology would be a good option, for example. As for what I’ve tried, I went through a stage of having a monthly massage for over a year once everything settled down after my last relapse, which was really good. But as an ongoing therapy, I see a kinesiologist of my own every couple of months, which often picks up emotional stuff. But with the kinesiologist we work holistically, so for me a tincture of the herb Salvia miltiorrhiza has been particularly useful. I’ve also used Luteolin over many months and am now on Reishi mushroom extract to help keep the immune system balanced.

      From a self-help point of view, I have found the app Calm very helpful. Their website is https://www.calm.com/. This kind of app is probably the most accessible of the things I’ve tried but you may prefer an alternative app such as Headspace.

      I’ve also used brainwave entrainment via ‘Innapeace’ from Brainwave Research UK (https://start.innapeace.com/the_ip_experience_register). Brainwave entrainment uses sound to put the brain into a relaxed meditative state and I find it particularly useful to help me quickly relax at the end of the day (I often put earbuds in on going to bed as it helped me to sleep). Unfortunately it’s not exactly cheap to follow their program (there are 64 steps in total using progressively deeper entrainment) but I’ve found it good just doing the first 2 stages (16 steps) over a 3 year period. I considered it helpful enough to become an affiliate of theirs, and if you’re interested the cheapest rates they do are $497 for a full stage (8 steps) or $77 per month for 8 months. (If you take a look and decide you want to give it a go, please consider using the links https://InnaPeace.com/ip200/chrish or https://InnaPeace.com/ip1925/chrish respectively.)

      The perhaps better known main alternative for brainwave entrainment is Holosync (https://www.centerpointe.com/) but is more expensive and each stage is an hour long compared to 30 minutes with InnaPeace. It’s also less flexible, since headphones are always needed for Holosync, whereas an InnaPeace track can be played in the background over open speakers, which is why I switched to InnaPeace after trying Holosync.

      And then the final online help I’ve dipped in and out of is the Soulvana app (https://www.soulvana.com/), for which there is also an app. Some of their stuff can be a bit more ‘challenging’, depending on your beliefs and live experience, but if you go with it you may find it complements the approach of Calm, which is the way I approach it.

      I think that’s basically it for what I’ve tried so far but I did learn a very useful lesson last summer. I noticed I was starting to develop purpuric spots on my feet and legs (lower legs especially). Obviously I knew I was starting to crash again, and thought that if I could catch it at an early stage I might be able to take prednisolone for a shorter period than previously. I had my blood taken to find my platelet count was 43 but as I couldn’t get an appointment with the consultant there and then, he told me that I would be ok without any treatment and to return in 5 days for another test and appointment with him. I then spent the next 5 days paying attention to my body, making sure I was strictly GF, taking the herbal tincture every day and allowing myself to have a nap whenever I felt tired. When I returned for my appointment, my platelet count was 66! In 5 days! So finally I feel that I have some degree of control over the condition and I’ve gone the longest period I’ve ever had between relapses (despite the prediction from a previous haematologist that I should have expected to relapse a year ago).

      Anyway, I hope all that is useful to you in some way. Once again, I am so sorry I didn’t see your message in December. I’m going to go back and try and work out why it didn’t appear in my emails as well.

      With very best wishes

      Chris

  3. lu Reply

    I have the opposite problem. very high platelets, What would louise hay say about that do you think?

    • chris Reply

      That’s a tricky one. I think you have to look at what she says in ‘Heal Your Body’ about blood problems. In that she says “Lack of joy. Lack of circulation of ideas.” There’s nothing specific about platelets though, although under clotting, she says “Closing down the flow of joy.” But you may get your own insight into what this means for you if you consider what was happening in your life before your symptoms started; that could be anything from the previous 6 months to several years but see what resonates for you. Hope that helps you.

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