The Peach Martini

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Anemia – What I’m Learning, Part 1

I posted yesterday morning about my recent experience with Venofer iron infusions. Today I’ll tell you a bit about how I arrived at that juncture.

I began seeing an internist in February for some lingering ‘female issues’ I’ve been having for a few months – very heavy cycles and bleeding between cycles. I was also experiencing a lot of pain in my lower abdomen, lower back, and pelvic region. In addition to ordering an ultrasound to check things out, she also ordered some blood tests to check all my levels. My doctor also asked that I take some progesterone to try and get the bleeding toned down a bit between cycles. I was to take this 10 days off, 10 days on until I heard otherwise.

The ultrasound came back showing I have a cyst on each ovary (5cm on the left, 3.5cm on the right which also appeared to have some blood inside it); the progesterone seemed to slow things down a bit, and I definitely felt a bit more energy and overall mood improvement. But because of the blood in the cyst, my doctor ordered some additional blood work to see what was up. I had previously been diagnosed with von Willebrands Factor –  though it was a seemingly mild case. She wanted to test my levels again to see if they were still indicating a deficiency, or if that was a fluke. She ordered a complete blood count (CBC), Iron Panel, and PT/INR (clotting) panel. She also referred me to a GYN who ordered a thyroid test.

Per the lab results:

Iron: 12 (41-182)

TIBC: 387 (300-450)

Iron % Saturation: 3 (20-55)

My CBC also came back with low counts for the following:

Hemoglobin: 9.2 (12.0-15.0) (This is the iron-containing oxygen-transport metalloprotein (protein containing metal ion cofactor) in the red blood cells)

Hematocrit: 32.5 (33.2-41.1) (This is the volume percentage (%) of red blood cells in blood.)

MCV: 71.3 (79.3-94.8) (“mean cell volume” (MCV), is a measure of the average red blood cell volume)

MCH: 20.2 (26.8-33.2) (“mean cell hemoglobin” (MCH), is the average mass of hemoglobin per red blood cell in a sample of blood)

MCHC: 28.3 (33.5-37.0) (“mean cell hemoglobin” (MCH), is the average mass of hemoglobin per red blood cell in a sample of blood)

TSH & T4 (thyroid tests)came back in the normal ranges.

The nurse read the results over the phone, but went through them so fast I requested to have copies available. She also mentioned the iron infusion that was ordered for me, but provided very little information on the process. I was very frustrated that I wasn’t given a lot of information about what to expect, how to prep, any restrictions, etc. I didn’t even know how long it will take, or how much time I’ll be away from work! (Thank goodness for a very flexible supervisor!)

Left to my own devices, I researched on my own, which always has drawbacks. All I seemed to find was negative experiences with iron infusions – the bad side effects or allergic reactions that people had. I could find very little in the way of positive news! This is mostly the reason I’d like to share my story with you – in the hopes it may help someone else!

In my next post, I’ll outline many of the common symptoms of anemia, and share with you how I felt before I found there was a reason for it, including the weirdest, most embarrassing symptom I’ve ever known…

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