I could have used this helpful advice a few years ago. Instead, I ignored all the warning signs. As a result I was diagnosed with an incurable blood disorder, called or “essential thrombocythemia” or essential thrombocytosis. You are probably wondering what is essential thrombocythemia, which is precisely what I asked my hematologist in January 2009 when she read off the results of my bone marrow biopsy.
Primary thrombocythemia is when the bone marrow is making too many platelets without a known cause. Platelets are essential for blood clotting.
When we think of undergoing a stress test, we typically associate it with a cardiac stress test. This is when you either pedal a stationary bicycle or walk on a treadmill for a number of minutes to measure your heart rate, how your body responds to the increased activity.
But how does your body respond to such things as losing your job, missing a deadline or other pressures at work, constant exposure to a hostile work or home environment, not having enough money to pay your mortgage or feed your children, disobedient children. These are only a few examples of potential stressful conditions.
Helpguide.org defines stress as: Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. When you sense danger – whether it’s real or imagined – the body's defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction, or the stress response. The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you.
When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life – giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you'd rather be watching TV.
This is what happened to me. Beyond a certain point, I would say, two years of constant stress, my body’s stress response went into overdrive which caused my bone marrow to produce blood platelets at an enormous rate.
The first signs of the condition became apparent after I was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer in March 2007. Months after I’d discontinued therapy treatment for the stomach ulcer I was still experiencing pain in my upper abdomen. My gastroenterologist ordered a complete blood count (CBC) to rule out any possibilities of other severe stomach diseases. Within a year, my platelet count had risen nearly 4 times beyond the normal range. The normal platelet count value is anywhere between 150,000 - 400,000 platelets per microliter (mcL), unfortunately mine had elevated to 1.2 million.
WOW, is exactly what I said. I was a walking time bomb. I was told I’d avoided not having a stroke or heart attack because of my age and fit physical condition. I considered myself lucky. I was so busy fighting my case with the Navy in hopes to remain on active duty when I should’ve been paying more attention to the warning signs of stress.
I have to take low dosage aspirin and low dosage chemo-therapy medication (1000 mg pills per day) for the rest of my life as an aggressive approach to lower my blood platelets which are currently at 600,000 microliter (still well above the normal range). Every 3 months I have to have my blood drawn and my CBC monitored and I also have to avoid exposing myself to potential stressful conditions.
STRESS, if gone untreated is a silent killer. Don’t be like me, pay attention to the warning signs.
You can Google http://helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm to learn more about how to manage stress.
Here are a few helpful hints:
Learn to manage stress: Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems.
Learn how to relax: Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response. When practiced regularly, these activities lead to a reduction in your everyday stress levels and a boost in your feelings of joy and serenity
Learn quick stress relief: Everybody has the power to reduce the impact of stress as it’s happening in that moment. With practice, you can learn to spot stressors and stay in control when the pressure builds.