I was flabbergasted when, in December 2013, I was diagnosed with essential thrombocythaemia. I had thought that I was perfectly healthy – in fact I had visited my doctor for the first time in four years with symptoms totally unrelated to essential thrombocythaemia. The doctor treated me and also decided that, as I was in my early 60s, a routine health check was in order.
A couple of days before the check I noticed a large unexplained bruise on the back of my knee. When the doctor saw this he sent me to the lymphoma and leukaemia clinic which ran blood tests showing I was producing too many platelets and that there had been a mutation in the JAK 2 gene. An ultrasound showed that I also had an enlarged spleen. I now take daily hydroxycarbamide and aspirin to keep the platelet levels down and prevent blood clots. Every four months I have a blood test to check that my platelet production is at a normal level. Other than that, this blood disorder has made no impact on my life at all. Of course it was a shock to find that I had a disorder I had never even heard of, but the treatment is effective, I am suffering no side effects from the medication, and the NHS are caring for me very well indeed.