Friday, 6 December 2013

No Gold, Frankincense or Myrrh. Just Iron.

You'll have noticed there was a distinct lack of a weekly round up post last week. This is partly because I wanted to announce my competition (Have you entered yet? Go on, get on with it!) but also because I didn't really do a lot.

Last week was a difficult week for me. I felt incredibly low in terms of emotions and energy and it was a struggle to get through the week in every way. I considered all sorts of causes. Maybe I was coming down off the high I got from the Running Show over the weekend, maybe not eating enough or had a vitamin imbalance. All I knew for certain was that it knocked me for six and I just wanted to go into hiding. I tried exercising in the hope that it'd perk me up but it didn't work and I didn't feel physically able to do any running at all. I hated the thought that I was losing fitness with every day that passed; I've been getting so slowly towards my goals of increased speed and strength. People around me noticed the change, even my PT commented that I didn't seem myself.

I tried listening to my body. Mine seemed to be saying "you need ALL the sleep, a break from EVERYTHING and to eat cake". So I ate cake. I tried to convince myself that doing anything active was better than nothing and I forced myself to talk to people. I'd have loved to have called into work sick but I couldn't quite bring myself to do it so I worked from home when I could, in layers of jumpers and slouchy socks with mugs of mum's hot damson cordial and Paul Hollywood's Pies and Puds on iPlayer at lunchtime. There was one evening where I changed straight into my PJs after work, got into bed and was asleep an hour and a half later.

I'd tried to get what I call my "power up jab", a B12 injection that I was prescribed on a 3-monthly basis almost a decade ago to combat pernicious anaemia. My last blood tests showed a spike in B12 so I'd been told to leave it 6 months. It'd been 5. I was DENIED my jab and I felt like crying. The doctor decided to run some blood tests and this week I was diagnosed with actual proper severe anaemiaThe healthy range of serum ferritin lies between 20 and 80 ng/ml and the normal iron levels for women ranges from 12 to 15.5g of haemoglobin per decilitre of blood. One of my readings was 2.something in either case that's extremely low.

Rather than being surprised that I have it, I suppose I should be more surprised that it's taken this long for me to get it. I've been vegetarian since the age of 10 and being a woman and a runner also makes it more likely to occur but I've always been mindful of my diet and love things like broccoli and greens, beans and nuts which are all high in iron. It can take decades for your iron levels to fall to anaemic levels but thankfully not quite so long time to build them back up again, although we're still talking months not weeks. I'm now on iron tablets, which have their own downsides, and am hoping they make a difference to my energy levels and moods. I'll get tested again in the new year. I'm still curious as to why it's come on so quickly; my iron levels weren't commented on in my last blood tests.

I don't mean for this to be a whiny, woe-is-me post but this isn't something that's talked about very much and it's been a real relief to me to find out that others have had similar experiences. I'm finding that shouldn't feel bad because I can't do so much at the moment. This is an actual thing that happens to people, these levels of tiredness are not uncommon and I'm not being a hypochondriac. It can take a while to bounce (or crawl) back. This week I have tried to work out at a lower intensity, just to stop myself from feeling as though I'm turning into a blob. I managed a lower impact PT session with lots of strength work built in, a couple of dog walks, some yoga at home and a circuits class that took far more out of me than usual. Although I've still not run, I'm considering a 2-miler over the weekend but if I don't feel up to it, then that's just the way it is. It's a day at a time right now.

If you want to find out more about anaemia, recommended iron intake and so on, I've linked to the relevant NHS page above but this page is also very informative. If you've had anaemia, whether you're a runner, sporty, or not, I'd really love to hear your experiences so please do leave a comment below.

Thank you.

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