How it all began...

What a journey the last 10 years have been! My name is Laura and I was diagnosed with severe aplastic aneamia in November 2007 when I was 21. Aplastic anaemia is a disease in which the bone marrow does not make enough red and white blood cells as well as platelets for the body. The world was mine for the taking. I had met a boy and started a Fine Arts degree at university only 8 weeks prior. 

When I became ill everything happened so fast: I suffered with a throat condition called quincy, then chronic abdominal pains and swelling as well as fatigue and outrageous bruising. I then was taken into hospital because I no longer had the energy to support my own body and was slipping in and out of consciousness.

The diagnosis

My haemoglobin levels were at a dangerous 2 and my platelets had fallen below this number. I remember the doctors crowding around me not knowing what was happening and hearing one of them say to another that "if they were to operate she could die".

To put it simply, I had no blood in my body and practically all of my platelets were fast depleting with nothing to help clot the blood. In the meantime my abdomen was still expanding and the only option was to operate and find out what was happening. Many hours and eight units of blood later my operation was a success! They had discovered a ruptured ovarian cyst that was causing internal bleeding and through this they realised that something else was happening... I was first told that they thought I had leaukemia. Ouch! Numerous tests later and there it was, the missing jigsaw piece: 

You have aplastic aneamia

I thought naively that I was going to be sent away with a prescription for iron tablets. I didn't know what 'aplastic' even meant, but I knew about 'anaemia'. How very wrong I was!

My treatment journey

The years have passed and I have undergone two treatments  of ATG (rabbit) and ATG (horse) - infusions of horse or rabbit-derived antibodies against human T cells... Sounds confusing, I know! These treatments were used to jump start my bone marrow, if you will, and given intravenously over four days - each bag lasting 18-21 hours. A little like a  bio-based chemotherapy.

I have fought through side effects like serum sickness, had my body completely refilled with blood transfusions to reduce problems with being very tired and short of breath, had platelet transfusions to reduce the risk of life-threatening bleeding, a million and one hospital appointments with a few check here and there to say the least, and a decade of immunosuppressive therapy yet I'm still me!

I certainly do feel like part of the furniture sometimes at the hospital and of course there are days when I still struggle but I'll never do any of it without a smile across my face.

I have aplastic anaemia, but I am not aplastic anaemia

My life now

It's important for me to say that despite it all I have still managed to live a normal life: I work, do the shopping, look after a home and a family because yes, I have also had the pleasure of becoming a mother, TWICE, to two beautifully courageous, funny, outstandingly loving boys. My eldest is 3 years old and my youngest is only 9 months.

My heart belongs to these tiny men and I'm incredibly grateful every day for them being here with me and their unbelievably selfless father Mike.

My fight continues as recent blood counts have dipped which are taking me in the direction of having a bone marrow transplant of which my haematologist has already secured two potential donors for this to happen.

This is going to be a scary journey but my head stays focused and my heart believes that staying positive and allowing the universe to recapture and recreate me will take me far on this journey to recovery.

Thank you for listening to my story and thank you for your support.