Monday, October 24, 2011

Anemia

Subtitle: Yay I have a new excuse for everything!

I got my blood work back from my primary care provider and I'm way anemic. Turns out all those times I've been turned away by the Red Cross for 'low hemoglobin' I've actually had really low hemoglobin. Really low. I have a value of 8 g/dL, when the normal band for women is at least 11, preferably up around 12. The Red Cross requires 12 to accept your blood. A little bit of paranoid googling will tell you that folks with persistent low hemoglobin for other reasons (scary cancers mostly) will get transfusions when they get to 8 g/dL.

Uh.

My MCH, MCHC, RBC and MCV were also all low... some just right below the normal band, some quite a bit below. My PCP said this all means that I most likely have low iron stores, meaning my body is no longer able to make enough red blood cells. In young women, the most common cause (my Dr. said) is heavy periods. Well, I'm on a 4 periods a year oral contraceptive, so I am not only having light periods, I'm only having them 4 times a year. That is not the cause.

According to Medline, the most common causes of iron deficiency anemia are (source):
  • You lose more blood cells and iron than your body can replace
  • Your body does not do a good job of absorbing iron
  • Your body is able to absorb iron, but you are not eating enough foods with iron in them
  • Your body needs more iron than normal (such as if you are pregnant or breastfeeding)
Bullet 1 is not me. Bullet 2 might be, Bullet 3 is most likely not me, and bullet 4 is definitely not.

More info, same source:

Iron loss can be due to bleeding. Common causes of bleeding are:
The body may not absorb enough iron in the diet due to:
You may not get enough iron in the diet if:
  • You are a strict vegetarian (yes, BUT I'm mindful of what I eat......)
  • You are an older adult and do not eat a full diet (I'm older than I was yesterday, but no one could say I don't eat a full diet!)
I'm seeing a hematologist a week from today, and she will draw blood yet again and do some extra testing to get a better picture about what exactly is going on. One of the most likely possibilities I've toyed with is Celiac, because you can be asymptomatic for Celiac, but goodness I hope that's not the case. I heart gluten so very much.

I mentioned I'm using this as an excuse for everything from now on, because I'm an opportunist like that. From my totally web-based research, I feel I'm justified in blaming my crappy running on the anemia, because fatigue, especially when excercising, is basically guaranteed. Other symptoms include: feeling grumpy (BINGO!), headaches (eh), and lightheadedness on standing (yep). I am choosing to also blame the following on anemia:
-super cold hands and feet
-laziness
-desire to spend the day tucked in flannel sheets instead of going to work
-desire to walk up hills instead of running them
-letting Nick do yard work while I sit on the couch.

My physician said I'm ok to run the marathon, but just to be careful and don't push myself too hard.. I'm not going to damage myself further by running, but I'm not exactly 100% healthy. She said I could dose myself heavily with iron this week and maybe get a little boost, but mostly I'm stuck with how I am. Crappy performance, ahoy!

But really... I'm hoping I can cross that finish line and be proud of what I've accomplished.

6 days.

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