For the last year or so, I’ve been having trouble taking a normal deep breath and feeling the urge to deep yawn. It’s off an on and sometimes worse than others. When I first noticed it, I went to the doctor for a full physical and fasting blood draw. At the time, I was running outside and the doctor contributed my running as “exercise induced asthma.” Which I didn’t accept because I felt there was just more to it. My blood work came back great for everything except my iron was low. You see, this wasn’t the first time I had been told that and when the doctor didn’t seemed too concerned, neither was I. That all changed a few days ago.
A week ago today, I woke up with a slight headache. This headache lingered all through the week and Ibuprofen would only mask it for a little while. I thought about picking up something different but never did, just continued on with the day-to-day plans. Thursday evening we had plans to eat dinner with one of our friends for his birthday. Other than the headache, I had felt fine and was looking forward to eating out after we had eaten most of our meals at home during the week. On the way to dinner I started to feel nauseated. I just thought that the headache and the fact I was hungry was the cause of it but that quickly changed. We ordered dinner and I had finished two glasses of water before it got to the table. This was unusual for me.
By the time the food was delivered, I was shaky, my head was pounding, I felt light-headed, and I just wanted to go to sleep. The smell of the food made my nausea worse and the way my body felt honest to goodness, scared me. I felt at any moment I was going to black out and the scariest part was that I didn’t know why I was feeling this way. We ended up boxing up our food and leaving. I felt so terrible because after all, we were there to celebrate our friend’s birthday and here I am feeling so strange and having to leave.
When I walked in the house, I had the urge to soak in the tub because I was freezing. I took my temperature and thankfully wasn’t running a fever. Still though, no idea why I was feeling what I was feeling or how to fix it. Since I thought hunger was a cause, I made myself eat half of a sandwich and then I went to bed. Friday morning, the headache is still there but I was relieved to not be feeling shaky, vertigo, etc. I signed on to work and ate breakfast. The headache started to get worse and I thought it might be the computer screen so I turned the brightness down on the monitor and my phone. Next thing I knew, it was close to lunch time and all of those scary feelings came back. At this point, I was still trying to tell myself it was a migraine but you know how sometimes you just know, or have a gut feeling, that there is more to something? That’s how I was Friday and I asked Kasey to take me to the doctor.
I am so thankful for that. Remember how my test a year ago reminded me that my iron was low? Well, turns out I was experiencing all of those symptoms because of a severe iron deficiency. I was first told I had low iron when I was in the hospital to give birth to my now, 10 year old daughter. I just had no idea the severity of it or that I needed treatment. The doctor said that from looking at my nails, he can tell I’ve been deficient for a long time and he’d be willing to bet since I began my first menstrual cycle. Um, hello.. that’s been 20 years ago. Who knew that for the last 20 years, I should have been taking iron supplements to treat my anemia? My grandmother had reminded me how severe anemia is and the fact it runs in my family but I always let it kinda go in one ear and out the other. You see, I am not a fan of medicine, supplements, nothing. So the thought of having to voluntarily take something that no doctor had said I needed, wasn’t high on my priority list. That sure has changed now.
This time the doctor believes our recent time at the lake and coming off my last menstrual cycle sent me over the edge. Sometimes I think God has to bring us to our lowest to kinda make us stop and take care of ourselves. I am always on the go and doing for others and very rarely put myself first. Not now, I have learned how valuable it is to slow down, say no, and let go. Rest is essential, especially since the duty of getting ready for the day wears me completely out. Now, I just know why. Just because someone asks me to do something, I shouldn’t feel obligated to do so. Especially when sometimes my body just isn’t up for it no matter how much I want it to be. Letting go, I simply cannot do it all no matter how much I want to or try to. It’s been a wake up call for sure and now we’re in the process of trying to correct what the last 20 or so years has done. Oh, and you remember how last year I was told I had exercise induced asthma and that’s what was causing my breathing issues? Turns out, those are also related to my anemia. Anemia prevents oxygen from getting to the brain properly which then tricks my lungs into feeling the need for a breath.
I’m having to eat more red meat than I care to but it’s necessary, take a daily iron supplement, keep my nausea prescription and headache prescription close by, and rest. I literally have spent the entire weekend on the couch watching movies. Kasey and I rented The Shack, Lego Batman, The Accountant, and Hacksaw Ridge. All of which, I loved! We have also spent time watching Netflix. It’s been really nice just resting but I have to admit, I feel guilty. It’s not my typical normal and it’s going to take some time getting used to not always being on the go. The doctor said if the additional symptoms were still around in a week then I needed to go back in for additional blood work to see if there is an underlying issue. My great-grandfather was anemic and died of leukemia. This is something I don’t take lightly and am going to be doing my part.
Since beginning my new normal, I am proud to say I haven’t woken up with a headache for two days in a row. Small improvement but it means so much! To everyone who has known what’s been going on and who has been extra prayer warriors, thank you. The calls, texts, and surprise deliveries have meant so much.
My hope by sharing all of this is to bring awareness to how serious anemia can be and how important action is needed before it gets to the severe deficiency point that I experienced which could have turned into something even worse. I also hope that if anyone out there is also anemic, you know you aren’t alone. It’s a hidden disease, but one that shouldn’t go untreated. I appreciate all of you who have taken time to read this and who are in my corner. It’s going to be a journey but I am in good hands and surrounded by lots of love!