As part of a routine physical I went in for a blood test myself this week. My results are back, too. It turns out I’m severely anemic. A normal hemoglobin count for women is 12-15. Mine is currently 8.9, and that’s with taking iron once a week.
I was first diagnosed with anemia three years ago. My hemoglobin then had fallen to 8.5, and I fainted in the kitchen while standing at the counter stirring my 5 AM coffee. I woke up in a pool of blood with my face cut and my glasses smashed, and had to crawl through the apartment to our bedroom to wake up DH so he could take me to the hospital. (I was amused to learn later that both our children heard the crash of my fall and both thought sleepily, “Whatever it is, Mom will take care of it,” and went back to sleep.) I had a black fringe of seven stitches in my chin for a week and was on iron supplements for the next few months.
So it’s good that we caught it this time before I fainted and fell out of the hayloft. Though we’ll check for more dire possibilities, I believe this recurring problem is merely a result of ongoing perimenopause. I’m back on iron and Vitamin C and we’ll test again in a couple of weeks.
Anemia causes fatigue. Unfortunately I don’t tend to pay much attention to vague symptoms like feeling tired. Generally God has to do something like throw me to the ground and split open my face before I notice health details. However two weeks ago D saw me and said, scowling, “What’s the matter with you! You look like an f-ing ghost!” and my friend Joanne, a nurse, stopped me in the school dining room and rolled down my lower eyelid. “Are you getting your blood checked soon?”
My friend Alison is also a nurse, and when I told her about my test results she pointed out that my levels were about the same as a post-chemo patient. She thought this might explain why I “sometimes feel so overwhelmed.”
This interested me.
“Al says chronic exhaustion from anemia might be why I feel emotional and overwhelmed so often,” I reported to DH.
“Hmmm,” said DH.
“But the problem is, I’ve never noticed myself being any steadier or calmer when my iron is fine — have you?”
“Not really,” he admitted.
It will be good to get my iron back on track, but I think I’m stuck with my personality.
I am reminded of last spring, when my elderly friend Allen returned to work for me after a year away. I wanted to take him for a ride in my truck to show him the finished back acres. He opened the truck’s passenger door and a shower of tools and clutter fell out at his feet. I apologized profusely but Allen just lifted an eyebrow.
“Nothin’s changed around here, I see.”