Monday, July 6, 2009

It's all about the Iron

Don't you know that you need iron to be an Ironman? Yeah, apparently so. And my doctors didn't think to check it.

The last I saw my Cardiologist, he wanted to prescribe beta blockers to bring my heart rate down. Before I left him, I asked him if a low iron count could possibly be the reason why I'm having all these issues with my heart rate as well as shortness of breath, fatigue, blurred vision and chest discomfort. He didn't give me an answer but ordered a blood test "just to be sure" I wasn't anemic. Results came in last week and the doctor's assistant told me to go back to my Primary Care Physician because my iron was low. I knew my iron level was low; it was no surprise since lately I have continually been rejected from giving blood due to a low hemoglobin count.

So back to my Primary Care Doctor I went. "Why are you here?" they ask. They hadn't received the blood test results yet and I hadn't seen it myself either. I waited in the examining room (it's beginning to have a familiar feel). There was a soft knock at the door and my primary doctor walks in the room...still no results yet. I tell her the story that the accompanied doctor from her office had sent me to the cardiologist and an eye doctor where I then have had a multitude of tests done. Blah, blah, blah. She then went to check to see if the fax came in.
Soft knock at the door and she walks in again holding the fax. "Hmmmm. Well, I'm glad you are here" as she shakes her head..."your hemoglobin count is low but not too bad; however, your iron is really low." She shows me the results: Hemoglobin count 11.1 (should be between 11.7 and15.5 ); Iron count is 19 (should be between 40- 175 ) Iron saturation is 4% (should be between 15%- 50) and RDW or red cell distribution width is 20.4 %(should be between 11.0-15.0%). At my surprise, she starts apologizing for her colleague who had sent me to the Cardiologist and the eye doctor. She explains that that doctor (who is now no longer with her practice) should have ordered the blood tests from the get go. I say "Soooo...all my symptoms could be attributed to low iron?" She replys..."It has EVERYTHING to do with it, you're anemic!".

Oh my gosh. A simple blood test would have pointed me in the right direction, instead I now owe lots of money for tests I didn't need. The funny thing is, in the back of my mind I had a feeling that my iron was a primary culprit for my symptoms. I looked at the doctor and said "Hey, well the good news is that I know that I have healthy athletic heart!" She shakes her head again and apologizes another time. "Well, after all that I hate to tell you this but I have to have you get a colonoscopy".
She then prescribed 975 mg of iron a day (I have to work up to that amount). There are three reasons why I might have low iron: (1) not enough iron intake (2) losing blood, e.g. ulcers or via the colon (thus the colonoscopy) or (3) it could be a hereditary condition (I won't go into this one right now--but is is certainly a possibility since my Dad has low iron and a bit anemic). Lastly, she advised me to exercise to the extent of what I could handle.

So another round of tests to come. I got to say, that honestly, I'm relieved....I feel as if I'm back on track and will hopefully figure out my medical mystery.
*Anemia develops when there are not enough healthy red blood cells in the body. This condition can be detected when there is a below-normal level of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is the iron-rich protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. If you have anemia, your body doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood.


WADDLER26.2 said...

Hope your feeling better.


I'm VERY surprised the first doctor didn't order blood tests first thing. That's the first thing all my doctors do. Good to know your current doctor is on the ball. As for the colonoscopy, I should have had my first one 3 years ago (at 50)--still haven't gotten it done. It is on the list, though! Good luck!