So this Christmas holiday has proved to be more eventful than we expected. Christmas Eve my dad noticed a localized rash spot on his upper leg that turned into a huge rash down both legs and feet mid Christmas day. Being that it was a holiday weekend he couldn't get in to see his doctor until yesterday, Tuesday. He's been totally healthy for weeks and even ran 4 miles on the treadmill Monday night after work before heading to bed thinking nothing of his red spots.
Tuesday morning he went in to have his doctor look at the unusual rash on his legs and his doctor recognized it right away as something characteristic of ITP a short abbreviation for a crazy long medical term (Immune thrombocytopenic purpura). His doc had him go in for blood work which showed my dad had an extremely low platelet count. I've learned a lot in the past 48 hours about blood and platelets, for those medical people reading this you know more than I do about parts and functions of the blood.
Nutshell 101 on blood you have white cells, red cells, plasma and platelets. The platelets in our blood are the part that helps with blood clotting. If you have no platelets you can bleed out from an external wound (i.e. cut) or bleed internally and die. Another bit on platelets that I have learned 150,000-350,000 is a normal healthy platelet count. My dad's count yesterday morning was below 2,000! Any platelet count below 10,000 is considered a medical emergency and is critical. If he had not gone in to the doctor that day he likely would have died in his sleep last night never knowing there was a problem other than a rash that was spreading and bruises that started showing up on his body.
In the mix of events yesterday, it seems like a whirlwind, my dad had a TON of blood work done that is still be tested to rule out options but the hospital had two units of platelets brought in from Anchorage to infuse into his blood stream. One unit of platelets is 50,000 platelets so he had 100,000 platelets infused last night around 8:30 p.m. to up his count. All the while the ER doctor and our uncle who is a surgeon said he was not to leave the hospital to even check something in the car b/c a simple slip on the ice or gentle bump on the head could cause a cerebral hemorrhage that would kill him. What??
We are still taking in the seriousness of the situation and have many unanswered questions that Lord willing will be revealed in the days to come as more testing and blood work are done. I've also read up a bit on ITP below I've attached a quick online summary I found:
Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is a bleeding disorder in which the immune system destroys platelets, which are necessary for normal blood clotting. Persons with the disease have too few platelets in the blood. ITP is sometimes called immune thrombocytopenic purpura. ITP occurs when certain immune system cells produce antibodies against platelets. Platelets help your blood clot by clumping together to plug small holes in damaged blood vessels. The antibodies attach to the platelets. The spleen destroys the platelets that carry the antibodies.
In children, the disease sometimes follows a viral infection. In adults, it is more often a chronic (long-term) disease and can occur after a viral infection, with use of certain drugs, during pregnancy, or as part of an immune disorder.
Right now doctors are ruling out options. When my dad went in this morning for new blood work up (after his infusion last night) his count was back down to 5,000. We were discouraged to say the least to see that in less than 12 hours after his infusion of 200,000 platelets he was back down to 5,000 so quickly. The nurses working with him were also surprised but the doctor said to have him go home and come in tomorrow (Thursday) for another infusion of platelets.
What we DO know right now, my dad is confined to the house 24/7 other than going to the hospital for blood work and testing. His immune system is very weak b/c of the steroids he is on to guard his liver and to try and help stop the immune system from killing off all his platelets. He can't be around people b/c of his weakened immune system and b/c of the bruising (internal bleeding) factor. A simple stub of his toe could be life threatening. He was also told to not even walk on the treadmill b/c the impact on his joints could cause swelling and bleeding. My dad is as his doctor put it "an egg shell" right now that can easily be broken. We don't know what is causing this, it could be his spleen or even leukemia. He will have a bone marrow biopsy next week Tuesday to rule cancer in or out.
Ways you can pray . . . more than anything right now I think I can safely speak for all the Eller family we covet your prayers. Praise the LORD for the doctor visit and initial diagnosis on Tuesday! Without it we would likely not have our dad with us today. Pray for REST for my dad the steroids keep him awake, he slept a total of 3 hours last night and was awake most of the day today. Pray for PEACE OF MIND for all of us in the family our minds are still spinning from all the information. Pray for WISDOM for the doctors and a clear diagnosis by next week so we can move forward with more substantial treatment. Pray for PEACE for my dad to be able to lay low, very low and not get crazy cabin fever being "locked in at home." He is so used to be the contact pastor at WBC and go to guy he's not sure how to be a patient. :) Even last night at the hospital as he was waiting to get his infusion he heard a lady down the hall in the hospital moaning in pain and he got up to help her down to the ER making sure she was going to be okay. He can't help but help other people, he is hard wired for it. :)
As I look back over the past two days I think again about how precious life is. We truly don't know how long we have or how long our loved ones have. My dad shared with us last night at the hospital that God has been impressing a verse on his heart the past 2-3 months. It's the verse that says, "You don't know what a day may bring forth." He felt God preparing his heart months ago for something that was coming our way but he didn't know if it would be one of his kids, his wife or himself. When everything started to unfold yesterday he said it didn't come as a total surprise he felt God gently preparing his heart for this news awhile back.
Life is precious and we hope for a couple more decades with my dad around but none of us knows how long we have. Oh Lord may we live our fullest each day for Your glory that when we see You face to face in all Your glory You may say, "Well done good and faithful servant."