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Receiving A Diagnosis: Iron-Deficiency Anemia

I use the term "diagnosis" loosely in this case because I truly believe that in my case, this will be something that I can reverse with the correct changes made to my life.

I wasn't sure that I would discuss this on Mommy's Block Party, but because I've been struggling for so long with symptoms that seemingly had no explanation, I decided my story may be beneficial for someone else to read. Maybe if I had read a story similar to mine a year or even two years ago, something may have clicked.

Having bariatric surgery over five years ago changed my life for the better in so many ways. However, as many know, it is near impossible to receive the proper nutrients required to keep all of my levels where they need to be, all the time. 

With that being said, I've tried to consume fruits, veggies, protein shakes and multi-vitamins regularly to ensure my health and wellness remain intact.

Somewhere in the last couple of years, things began to change. Whether it be the fact that I haven't monitored my nutrition as closely as I should have, or simply the fact that I did not see my bariatric surgeon for long-term checkups, my body began to take a nosedive.

For the last year, and longer, I've experienced an array of symptoms:

Shortness of breath
Tightness in chest
Racing heart (hearing my heartbeat in my ears throughout the day and uncomfortable panic at night)
Extreme fatigue
Loss of zest
Abdominal Pain (still unsure if related)

If any of these symptoms sound like you, please remember this MAY NOT mean you are anemic. The fact that I had bariatric surgery and cannot absorb nutrients properly anymore is a very direct reason for my anemia and this is just my experience. Just wanted to include that little disclaimer! 

These symptoms have landed me at the doctor more than once. I've had EKG's, labs, CT scans and have spent more money than I care to try and calculate. 

One well-intentioned doctor told me I had anxiety and prescribed an antihistamine (as in - the benedryl family) medication that I took one dose of and realized it was not for me. That was the first and last medication I was willing to try. I had a gut feeling this was something more. I began to wonder if I was exhibiting signs of pre-menopause. I underwent a total hysterotomy 7 years ago, leaving my ovaries in tact. Because of this, it's unlikely I would be going through this change so soon but I was grasping at straws. 

For the most part, I kept most of my symptoms to myself. My husband has been my rock this past year and truly is the most amazing man! He has helped and encouraged me every single day. It's difficult to experience debilitating symptoms and be a mom to two young boys. It has been and will always be my goal to make my family a priority in my life. I have tried my best to compensate and be the fun, energetic, adventurous mom that I've always been and hope my kiddos would be none the wiser.

However, over the last few months, my symptoms intensified and I realized, I could no longer maintain the charade. I went to my doctor for the umpteenth time and new labs were ordered. Labs that had never been previously ordered: ferritin and hemoglobin.

I will not go into specifics about my labs, because that's personal and individual, but I will tell you that my levels were dangerously low. How long had they been this low? Probably, far too long. I try not to think about that because it is upsetting to me for various reasons. Should I have gotten my iron checked before this, due to being a bariatric patient? Yes. I absolutely should have and I failed myself for not knowing that. Knowledge is power and now that I have it- I am RUNNING with it. 

My doctor has given me the green light to begin daily iron supplements and will recheck my labs in 8 weeks. I know this will be a slow and steady walk toward the finish line and while that is hard to swallow, even a slow step is movement. I will also begin a strict dietary change consisting of eliminating dairy, most gluten and increasing foods rich in iron every single day. 

Will all of my symptoms improve? I truly do not know. Do I still worry there may be something else going on? Yes, I do. It almost seems too simple after a long journey of dead ends. However, I've joined a couple of very helpful support groups on facebook, reached out to a couple of friends who have walked this path and have now opened myself up so that I can lean on friends and family for support. 

I have felt for so long that I may be letting someone down, somewhere.  Not having the energy or power within my body to simply be ME has taken a toll on my mental health. If you're experiencing that too, it's going to be ok! I've realized more than ever, the more open I become, the more support I receive. You do not have to walk through your storms alone. 

Thanks for reading about my journey and while it is surely just beginning, I hope to post again in two months, sharing about the dramatic change that has taken place with my health! I hope you'll come along with me and share in my story. 



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