As second semester of my sophomore year of college started, I started to feel…weird. I started noticing bruises on my arms and at the same time every night, I became unbearably tired. It felt as if someone were flipping my “off” switch for the night, and I couldn’t get into bed fast enough.
By Friday, after a week of these weird symptoms, I went to the campus Health Center, and the doctor wanted to send a blood sample to the lab. My veins were so difficult to find that the nurse barely got enough to fill the vial. The results were expected by Tuesday.
That same Friday night, my roommate, one of our other friends, and I got in around 10:00 from a mall trip. There was a voicemail waiting for me from the Health Center nurse telling me that I needed to get to the local hospital ER immediately because my platelets were dangerously low. I called her back to get more details and the only thing she told me, again, was to get to the ER fast.
Who does a 20-year old girl call when she’s told by a health professional to get to the hospital late on a Friday night for a mysterious reason? Obviously, her boyfriend of over a year.
He came to pick me up, and my roommate and our friend came with us. On the way, I saw that he was visibly agitated. I asked him what was wrong and he told me he hates hospitals and probably wouldn’t come in with me. I remember actually asking him if he would come in the hospital with me if I was having a baby and his answer was, “I don’t know.” First this mystery illness and now solo childbirth? Super.
The three of us girls entered the ER and my boyfriend did not. My roommate would periodically go outside to check on him while I was waiting, and she told me he was pacing back and forth, sweating, and behaving very nervously. Deemed utterly useless by my roommate, she sent him back to campus with our other girlfriend. My boyfriend unequivocally made the wrong choice.
My diagnosis? A rare blood disorder called ITP.
In the months following that night, I was treated effectively with ungodly amounts of Prednisone–25, 50, 75 milligrams a day for weeks at a time. The steroid got my spleen behaving properly, but as a side effect, I gained 50 pounds in 3 months.
My boyfriend wanted increasingly less to do with me, because I no longer fit the mold of the thin, long-haired girlfriend he needed. He told me I “wasn’t as attractive as I used to be,” and when I got my haircut short, he told me that I “wasn’t even trying.”
The thin, long-haired girlfriend he needed, however, was a senior at the high school where he was doing his student teaching that very same semester.