The Spelling Bee

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At 9 years old, I thought I would never have to wrap my head around any words more challenging than the one that caused me to come in second place at the county’s spelling bee. Of course, I was a fourth-grader, not a psychic, and just one year later I stumbled upon the words that put those now amateur spelling bee ones to shame: idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. Forget spelling—my family and I could hardly process them as they tumbled out of my doctor’s mouth and hung in the cold hospital room air.

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP, is a bleeding disorder in which the immune system destroys platelets, confusing them for antigens. This makes those afflicted with it, such as myself, more prone to excessive bleeding, bruising, and internal hemorrhaging. There was a certain irony about my own body making me sick in an erroneous attempt at keeping me healthy.

The first year was definitely the hardest. Although I did not know exactly what ITP was or how long it would persist, I still had to modify my lifestyle to accommodate it. This meant that while my entire fifth grade class was on the long awaited end-of-year field trip to Universal, I stayed home, safely within the confines of the bubble I now was restricted to,...

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