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. My mom also missed it for a long time. All my mom 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 years old. I was lying on the couch with no energy to do anything. I didn’t realize what was going on since I was nearly to the point of lethargy.
Afterwards, I recall my mom coming in and telling me we were going to our local health department. When we arrived, I heard her explaining the symptoms I was experiencing and asking to have my iron levels checked. My mom suspected it might be low. A blood test 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. 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 my iron levels. I am not sure how my iron deficiency resolved itself. Also, I dropped out of college to get married and had my first child with no issues. When I got pregnant with my second child, I was certain of my pregnancy without seeing 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. They found I was severely anemic, my iron deficiency had returned. I was in danger of losing my son.
The local health department 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. My healthcare team monitored my iron levels monthly to ensure it came up as well as stayed up.
Long Term Effects
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 has 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 iron deficiency is not a threat for me anymore. But there’s always a lingering what if thought at the back of my mind.
When I wake up in the morning feeling tired, I worry that my iron level is low and I’m going to face a no-energy day. Fortunately, my iron deficiency 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 and a healthy diet. I also have frequent appointments with my doctor. At least once a year, I push to check my iron levels.
The fear is of iron deficiency 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 maintaining a healthy lifestyle.