Pumpin’ Iron

Pumpin’ Iron

As far as my health goes, there are always questions and rarely answers. I was officially diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia in November 2016, a condition that my lab results had been reflecting for a couple years. This was actually a welcomed diagnosis which explained a few of my debilitating symptoms.

According to Mayo Clinic, Iron deficiency anemia is a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells which carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.

The fatigue, headaches, dizziness, troubling swallowing, nausea, dark circles under my eyes, chest pain, and echoing in my ears has been plaguing me for as long as I can remember. A tricky part of battling more than one diagnosis is to decipher which symptoms are coming from which diagnosis.

I started on oral iron supplements (hoping that it would help alleviate some symptoms) and after some very uncomfortable nausea and constipation with no positive results, my GI had suggested intravenous iron as another course of treatment. I was originally scheduled to have two infusions at our local hospital one week apart from the other. I was also scheduled for a colonoscopy to check for any internal bleeding that could have been causing the low hemoglobin and iron. They saw some inflammation and decided to take a couple of biopsies that thankfully came back negative for celiac and microscopic colitis.

My first experience getting my infusion was a little rough. The nurses in the outpatient infusion center were WONDERFUL! I was truly blessed to be in their care. They kindly explained what would happen at each step. They would check blood pressure, start the IV, the iron I received would be given over the course of 15 minutes, and they would keep me for 30-45 minutes to monitor blood pressure and any possible side effects. Altogether, the process in total took about 60 minutes.

I was warned that when the iron is being administered it can feel cold for some people. As it turns out, it feels cold for me so a warm blanket does the trick to keep me comfortable. The spot where the IV is inserted can also cause different sensations. In my experience there is less irritation and burning at the site if the IV is started in my arm rather than my hand.

After my first infusion I had a really intense reaction which landed me in the emergency room with a severe migraine. Currently I am typically fatigued following the infusions and have some minor flu-like aches and pains along with a dull headache that I can manage with medication.

Although my hematologist is unsure of the origin of my iron loss, we are continuing to treat and monitor closely. Symptoms come and go and vary in severity as levels rise and fall, but the dark circles under my eyes are slowly fading with each treatment and the use of some good concealer does the trick!

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