Scary Health Stuff: A Personal Update

Health struggles can really get you down. Here’s what I’ve been going through lately, and how I’m trying to handle it. This is a post for friends and family wondering what it is exactly that I am going through. 

I have a condition called Iron Deficiency Anemia

Basically, I have super low Iron.

See my body goes through three years worth of iron every six months.

I have IDA because my body, for whatever reason, decided to stop absorbing iron through food or vitamins a few years ago. (Still trying to figure out why it stopped– no answer yet).

Now, every six months I have to get iron infused straight into my bloodstream through an IV. Thankfully, I’m not squeamish around needles, so I don’t really mind the treatment so much. It’s just really expensive, especially having to get it twice a year. (Each treatment is given in three rounds of infusions that I go to the hospital for once a week.)

So what is the big deal?

Anemia can really suck. For one thing, the symptoms are awful.

Symptoms may include fatigue, skin pallor, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, dizziness, a fast heartbeat, loss of appetite, and depression. And they are constant! It isn’t like a cold where it is like that for a few days of misery then gone. No, that is your life. That is what you feel like all the time.

For me the depression hits hard, I lose my appetite and have to force myself to eat, I get super tired, and have little motivation to do anything. When my iron gets really low the oxygen levels in my blood drop as well. This causes my heart to beat faster to pump more blood to carry more oxygen. Since I also have two pre-existing heart conditions, this can be serious.

It took a long time to figure out what was wrong with me. I felt like I was dying, and couldn’t figure out why. I am also a “rub some dirt in it” kind of person, so I just want to be able to power through anything and suck at taking time to rest and just take care of myself.

For a long time, I just kept going to work and trying to act like everything was normal. Meanwhile, I was running myself into the ground… bad Brandy! I can’t lie, I still do this…

Now, we have figured out that I have IDA, but we haven’t figured out why my body has stopped absorbing iron, OR why my body is going through it about 5-6x faster than the normal person.

This is the scary part.

See your body uses one unit of iron a day.

A woman menstruating still only uses 1.5 units. Not that much more than the norm.

My body is averaging 5.5-6 units a day.

Since that iron is more than likely not being “used” by my body so quickly, it is more likely being “lost”. Iron is usually only lost through blood loss. Since I am not losing blood anywhere we can see (coughing, nose bleeds, etc) it is possible I am bleeding somewhere internally. We don’t know that for sure without more tests or MRIs. So we have some more work to do.

So…

Hopefully, we will figure out answers to those two most important questions:

Why am I not absorbing iron through food anymore?

Where is it going?

I created this post because a lot of people ask how I am, but this is something that is a little difficult to explain in casual passing conversation. It is a little disconcerting, as well as stressful financially (lots of bills, all the time).

So whether you’re a friend, family, or a reader wondering why it is taking me so long to get my book out there, know I am hanging in there. I am pushing on through and trying to teach myself how to rest every once in a while.

I’m not freaking out. I don’t think that would help the situation. It’s more of a sigh, and move forward kind of mentality at the moment.

If anyone knows of a specialist in Iron loss, please share.

I am also applying for grants and assistance with medical bills. If you have any experience with that sort of thing, I would love to hear that as well! This is all new territory for me, and I am just taking it one day, one task at a time.

Burdens are always a little lighter when you share them, so thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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