It started with my neck pain. Which led to an MRI, which led to being told I have degenerative disc disease and arthritis because I’m an old, young woman. The MRI also led to a physical and additional blood work at my GP, which led to a referral to a specialist. A specialist called a hematologist, also known as an oncologist.
No one wants to go to an oncologist, but the office I went to was nice – the people, the setting – and I kept reminding myself I was there because he’s a BLOOD doctor, not a CANCER doctor. More blood draws, more tests.
Along the way, I felt a little weak, tired if I worked out, tired if I didn’t work out (both of which I blamed on the activity or lack of it) and was regularly turned away from donating blood for low hemoglobin, the last attempt showing the lowest levels I’ve ever had.
Then finally last week, a nice call from the nice PA I was set to meet with that afternoon to tell me he could save me an hour and a copay because all the blood work showed was that my iron was low, which is what the guess was at each step along the way and that I needed to take a supplement, probably stop donating blood to build back up my iron, hemoglobin and red blood cells and come back in six months to retest my levels. Thank him on many levels.
I also learned that iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency, and in discussing my 90% vegetarian diet with my doctors, they believed that had something to do with it and said eventually that diet might give me anemia (the whole time it’s just been that my iron is low but not anemic levels at this point), but if it was my preference, there really is nothing wrong with keeping it up and just supplementing my diet.
He told me to take the iron supplement with food to avoid an upset stomach, but not dairy and with a chewable Vitamin C, which helps the absorption, but not with Calcium, which blocks the absorption. And thus began my cannonball into the world of supplements. I researched the what, the when and finally ended up with this schedule:
In the morning I now take a Vit D + Calcium, the two are paired in one pill because Calcium helps the absorption of the D, and I take a B-Multi. Both help with energy, so that’s why I take them in the morning.
At lunch, I take my iron tablet and a chewable C.
After dinner/before bed, I take my multi because in the past this one has made me nauseous, so I figure taking it before bed allows me to sleep through it, and I take my flaxseed oil so my multi is not lonely (obviously).
And I keep them all in my AARP-approved daily pill organizer. See? OLD, young woman. And actually each day is too small for all six, so I started leaving Sunday empty to put a few Cs in there.
Now that the vitamins I’ve taken off and on for a while have a purpose and a schedule, for some reason it’s easier to take them. So far I haven’t had any adverse effects from the iron pills (you know the ones…these supplements don’t have the best rep) and I hope that it starts to work so my energy levels go up and my blood starts pumping through my running legs again so they don’t feel so dead and slow!