My Tips to Not Looking like a Junkie

ITP, low platelet count, low Platelets, ITP disease, immune system disease, living with itp.

Feature image from Lissy Laricchia

So, you have ITP now – Welcome.  What you might not know, is that every now and again you may find that you look a lot like a junkie.  (Unless you are a junkie and then you’ll probably find yourself pissed at me for writing this article). The distinction between Junkie and ITP patient is pretty dam small. I don’t have anything against junkies. They have always got funny stories for me and have brightened the character cast of Orange is the New Black for three great seasons now… I digress. Looking like a junkie is just another fact of ITP that doctors fail to mention.

Reasons you might look like a junkie are as follows – Track marks – Tired eyes –  Mood swings – Late nights – Nausea – Thin, Fragile Skin – Hallucinations – Liver Damage – Confusion and finally, Paranoia.  Ok, I can’t help with the paranoia.  I find, most of the time when people think everyone is out to get them, it is normally true. But for the rest of it, there is hope.

Track Marks – Which include any kind of elbow bruise.  I haven’t had a track mark in years and here’s how.  To control the bruise, you need to understand where the bruise is coming from.  It might sound obvious but the bruise doesn’t appear from the hole in the surface of your skin, it comes from the hole in your vein.  Most of us only see the tiny little hole in our elbow, and apply pressure to that.  The hole you need to be applying pressure to is under the surface of your skin, in that little vein that just got broken into.  When the blood sisters tell you to apply pressure, actually press.  After the test, don’t use your arm for a few hours.  I mean, don’t use it.  Allow a few hours for that arm to just hang it at your side, don’t pick up your purse, or carry shopping, or start making crafts, leave it still.

Skin – Two elements are working against you here.  Firstly there is the medication you are taking which is drying out your skin, leaving it thin, fragile and splotchy looking. Secondly, there is the fact that if you scratch your skin, you get a big stupid lump of dried blood on your face around red blotchy skin = Ice Addict.  Your face is all cracked up and gross – Scratch your face and suddenly you have the glazed round dome of a blood droplet drying on your check bone – you look like an ice addict – Not ideal.

Tired Eyes – Last night sleep never came to visit me.  My eyes get crazy puffy all the time, and kind of red and itchy. Apart from actually getting to sleep (which is the best technique I can recommend)  Either, you can tell people you went out really late last night, and you are a rockstar – Coldwater on the outside, warm lemon water on the inside – Easy.

Irritability – Don’t forget about confusion and mood swings.  The medication is a mood alterer but it’s not just that, there is the fact that you are on the ups and downs of having ITP.  You are embracing the disorder and getting used to having it around and then boom!  something cracks you and your shitty and annoyed you have to deal with it.

How to deal with Mood swings and irritation – The first thing you need to do is to get used to it. Fighting with your new weird brain is a huge problem.  Once you embrace the ups and downs, the little roller coaster of it all, it starts to get fun.  You might not know it yet, but you are probably in mourning for your health.

Liver Damage – Chronic medication users always run the risk of liver damage.  Be good to your liver – especially with all the other crap it has to process.  Try not to get too pissed and shit, cause otherwise, you will look a lot like a Junkie … Get it.

If you have any other ideas, please let us know below. I think we all need as much help as we can get.



by Meg

Meghan Brewster is a writer and blogger. She is an ITP patient and launched ITP&Me in 2011. She is a coffee lover and a try hard dancer. @meghan_brewster

2 thoughts on “My Tips to Not Looking like a Junkie

    Bron says:

    LOL Love the way you write Meg you made me chuckle. :-).. Back in the early years just as I was about to have my splenectomy I was in a pretty shocking way and my arms were black and blue and for some reason the needle holes would stand out even worse on a very dark bruise. I had the fortune ( or misfortune if you like) of being asked to be filmed for the tv series RPA as ITP was still pretty uncommon back then. The camera crew took me out the front for some background film and I heard 2 passers by talking to each other. I remember welling up a little as I heard one say to the other..”great another doco on a junkie just check out her arms” I then tried to laugh it off and thought..ha they have no idea. Then later on when I was sent the tape of my segment I was so shocked because in fact its exactly what I looked you said eyes, skin, track marks wired behaviour oh and what a moody b*tch I was. People are so quick to judge and have no real idea of what is going on in somebody’s life all the while you are trying to hold your sh*t together LOL. Junkie indeed..dont think I ever managed to pull off the” heroin chic” look

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