For majority of my life I have been anemic. Taking on a vegetarian diet at the early age of 12, I did not educate myself on the proper foods I needed to consume that would be healthy and beneficial for my body. My lack of education on foods I needed to eat for a vegetarian diet and what to do to take care of my body caused me to lose iron that my body needed. When I was first diagnosed, of course the doctor told me the importance of iron and its benefits to my body. I know you are probably wondering why I wanted to be a vegetarian and there are various reasons why I chose to begin a vegetarian diet, but I’ll write about that at another time. I want to write about my current experience dealing with anemia.
In my early adulthood, to better my chances of increasing my iron intake, I added vitamins, chicken and seafood back into my diet. Those food items helped add iron and ferritin, but they did not contain the excessive amount of iron I needed. Side note: ferritin is a protein in the body that contains iron and is the main form in which iron is stored in your body. The amount of ferritin found in blood reflects the amount of total iron that is available to your body. I refused to eat beef and pork, and the other dark, leafy green foods that I was eating were just not enough for my body. Not only that, once a month after the visit from my lovely friend I would continue to lose blood. I couldn’t retain the amount of blood I needed for my body to continue to get healthy.
I made an agreement with my physician to try a variety of different ways to increase my iron levels. I have tried irons pills which gave me a bad reaction, plus I hate the idea of taking pills. I ate more and more foods that have a high level of iron. But that was just not enough. It didn’t matter how many vitamins I consumed to increase my iron levels, nothing seemed to work. My physician monitored me for a year before she decided that I needed to make a major change to increase my ferritin and iron levels. I lacked both and needed to make some changes to my lifestyle quick, my anemia was getting worse. So, she referred me to a hematologist to get me together. Because again, like I mentioned before in my previous post about anxiety, you cannot do everything on your own and you have to take care of yourself first.
My exhaustion was getting worse and I couldn’t do the things I really wanted to get into like working out. When I worked out, I was exhausted before and after. Is that even a thing?! Lol. I kept thinking to myself, I am so out of shape. But I really wasn’t. No matter how much I worked out, I was always tired. But after talking with my doctor at the hematologist office, those are just a few symptoms of being anemic. Shortness of breath, craving ice (who knew) and hair loss are some other symptoms. All of those symptoms I was experiencing, but I never even thought it was because of my anemia.
So here I am, getting my first blood infusion (non-chemo) to help increase my ferritin, iron levels. It’s funny because when my physician was talking to me about “what can we do to improve this?” I told her “you will just have to pump me full of iron.” Little did I know that a blood infusion was an option (Lol!) So, to end out the year I have continued to focus on my goals on bettering myself physically, mentally and spiritually. I finished my second iron infusion and waiting to hear back if I will be needing more. I will keep you posted on this journey!
Love life and full of smiles