Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Well, I knew something was wrong. I just presumed it was my thyroid. I was really tired (but figured it was because I had worked so hard at finishing my first screenplay in a month). I was still losing some hair (but less of it, and still had plenty more). I was out of breath before I was tired (something I noticed especially while playing soccer). And I was chewing ice. I think it was when I went through a whole bag of ice in four days that I thought, hmm...

So I had my blood tested. Needed to do it for the thyroid anyway.

Turns out, I am anemic. Again. Like I was four years ago. Except even worse than back then. Since this snuck up on me gradually, however, the change in energy hasn't been as stark - and it's been lingering, I think, and just slowly getting worse. My hemoglobin is at 8.0. Normal range is 12.0 to 16.0. Apparently anything lower than 8.0 is considered severely anemic. (Some say that anything lower than 9.0 is severe.) Four years ago, when everyone was so worried, my hemoglobin was 9.2. So this is worse.

I'm so happy. Not happy to be sick (or thrilled about the months it will take to fix the anemia), but happy that there's a reason I've been tired, out of breath, losing hair, chewing ice... And I'm happy because I know I will feel better soon, and will be greatly improved in a couple months. My lower energy is not just because I'm 48. It is because I need to take better care of my red blood cells.

And then I think - how in the world did I write a screenplay in a month when I was severely anemic? How productive might I become if I had more oxygen in my blood? (That's the biggest thing with anemia - you have no oxygen.) And then I realize - I'm nuts. I've done this all my life (overridden my body's efforts to communicate). I thought I'd gotten better at listening to my body. But my blood test results are written proof that I'm just as capable as I always was of ignoring my body's signals. Does it mean I'm willful? Or that I just have strong stamina? Is it my body that works around the illness, or my mind? If I lived in someone else's body, would I have collapsed by now, regardless of my personal tenacity? If the answer is yes - then how do I monitor whether I'm healthy or sick, if I can't hear my body's SOS?

These are questions I have to consider. In the meantime, I'm taking the supplements that the doctor gave me and they aren't making me too horribly sick yet (I learned four years ago that most iron supplements just make me sick to my stomach - but apparently these supplements are designed for digestion)... And I'm hoping for the best. And I'm grateful this is fixable. What a gift - that I can fix this.


Jeanie said...

Beth - my hemoglobin was 7.2 last week. Funny, that I was doing a lot of the same thought process as you. Not losing my hair, though, but losing my appetite, and always breathless, and can't do the stairs. I don't know HOW you managed to play soccer. I'd be flat on my face. Mine isn't related to iron - my iron is very normal. Hey - there might be a club - the Bloodless Wonders, or something.

Anonymous said...

my hemoglobin was 5.2 when i visited my doctor. in may it was 3.8. so i know how tired u get. i didnt know it effects the heart. ur heart has to pump faster to get blood through the body. i still do everything when my blood is low i think ur body gets use to it. i have had three blood tranfusions. always about 4 to 5 pints of blood so be very careful and keep a check on your blood count.