Getting diagnosed with Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency was cyclical for me when I hit my pre-teen years. I was too young to understand what was going on, but my mom totally missed it for a long time. All she knew was her vibrant, energetic tomboy daughter would slowly wind down to a place where energy didn’t exist. I remember having zero appetite and the thought of food making me nauseous. The first time I recall finding out I was anemic was when I was about 12. I was lying on the couch and had no energy to do anything. I didn’t realize what was going on since I was nearly to the point of lethargy.
I recall my mom coming in and telling me we were going to the health department. When we arrived, I heard her explaining the symptoms I was experiencing and asking them to check my iron levels as she was suspect. When they tested my blood, the tests confirmed that I was indeed anemic. Even though I was young, I remember my mom, who was a nurse at the time, explaining to me what anemia meant and that I would have to take iron supplements to get the iron levels back up to normal.
This would not be the only time we would go to the health department and find out my iron levels were low. We would develop a cycle of going every few months, discovering I was suffering from low iron and run another round of supplements. Eventually, we set up regular check-ups to try and stay ahead of it. And thus, my life dealing with iron deficiency began.
Second Round of Iron Deficiency
Once I reached college age, I didn’t have as much problem maintaining iron levels. Who knows why. But I dropped out of college to get married and had my first child with no issues. I got pregnant with my second child and was certain I was pregnant although I had not been to a doctor. When I was pretty sure I was coming toward the end of the first trimester, I started spotting and losing weight instead of gaining. I immediately went to the local health department where they tested my iron levels and found I was severely anemic. I was in danger of losing my son.
They put me on a nutrition program as well as supplements and I was able to get my iron levels back up to normal and had a healthy baby. I remained on natal vitamins that had iron supplements throughout my pregnancy and they monitored my iron monthly to ensure it came up as well as stayed up.
Long Term Effects of Iron Deficiency
I am presently under the care of several different doctors and have my blood levels checked annually at the bare minimum. My iron runs a bit low, but it’s not dropped below normal levels in a long time. Over time I’ve adjusted to a very well-balanced diet that consists of mostly whole, natural foods. I also try to eat iron rich foods to ensure I get enough iron in my diet. It seems as though my iron levels have stabilized and are not a threat. But there’s always this lingering what if.
When I wake up in the morning and I’m tired, I worry that my iron has plummeted and I’m going to face a no-energy day like used to occur. Fortunately, it has not reoccurred, but I have this looming fear that it will come back around and I’ll not recognize it and face fatigue again. I try to manage my fears by maintaining a healthy outlook on life, a healthy diet and frequent appointments with my doctor and pushing for getting my levels checked at least once a year.
The fear is always there. I don’t want the nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue to return. So I have to remain diligent about monitoring my blood levels and healthy lifestyle.