Advocate for yourself

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I watched the last few drops from the rust-colored liquid move out of the bag and into the IV tube. All at once, I felt gratitude, excitement, relief, and fear.

On Tuesday, I sat for 4-hours at the hospital receiving an iron infusion as I was diagnosed officially on Monday with anemia. The normal FE range for a women my age is 37-145 mg/DL. Mine was 19.

I was fortunate that there was a cancellation so I got right in. I was hopeful I’d get in before Ted and I head on our honeymoon to Italy. Time was on my side, because by the time we leave, the iron infusion should be fully integrated into my own blood stream. Until then, I will experience light headedness, headaches, and occasional heart palpitations.

I had no idea I was anemic. I had tested low in October, and my doctor put me on OTC iron every other day. My body wasn’t absorbing it. It can be a side effect for gastric sleeve or gastric bypass patients. Why didn’t my PCP order a follow up iron test? I’m not sure but I wish she had. But, she is churning through patients, as most PCP do, so this is where I get on my soap box and say, “No one will advocate for you but you.” Granted, family may help or friends may want to support you, but no one can tell how you are feeling internally but you. Listen to your body.

When my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer, she was listening to her body, which was telling her something wasn’t right. Sadly as with many Ovarian Cancer patients, the signals come too late. She encouraged me to learn from her experience and so I am.

I went for a sleep study, convinced my fatigue was caused by sleep apnea. I stayed over at the hospital, did my thing, and alas, when the results came back, my sleep apnea was close to normal levels. I asked the nurse practitioner, “Then, what is causing my fatigue and brain fog?” I take pride on my attention to detail and it was off. My nearly photograph memory wasn’t snapping those visual cues the same way.

She ordered the follow up iron test, and alas, that was the culprit. No matter how much iron I took, it wasn’t going to absorb at a normal rate.

I’ve been exhausted for years. I’ve been dragging myself around from point A to B and barely taking anything in. I was caring for mom, then dad, then the kids, and I wasn’t keeping up with my own health. If I am not strong, then I’m not good to anyone.

Mom taught us a lesson. And now I am doing the same. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.


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