I probably realised that my iron levels were not as high as an adults should be when I went to give blood and they turned me away…several times. When I think about it the signs were all there.
I was a tiny child right up until I was 17 when I went into the 6th form and had a growth spurt. They used to weigh and measure us termly at my Secondary school and I vividly remember the first time because it seemed odd. I was 4ft 7 and weighed 4st 7 so that’s why it’s stuck in my memory. I was 5ft 4 at 16 and 5ft 8 by 18. I’m not sure what I weighed, but was a size 10. My mum was a bit concerned because by the 6th form I’d still not started my periods. Now, I’ve read somewhere that puberty for girls doesn’t actually kick in until the girl is 8st, so that could’ve been it and then even when I did start periods I’d go 6-7 weeks and then they’d be a day and a half and that’d be it. No bother. I do remember standing up a few times and fainting dead away, but didn’t do much about it.
When I went on the pill, I still had very irregular periods, but rather less than more, eh?
Over the years, during pregnancy and when trying to give blood I’ve been referred to the Doctor and given iron pills. They’re awful! Just make you good and bunged up!
When I had my son by Caesarean section they gave me a blood transfusion before they’d let me come home, my iron was so low.
On what I thought was a side issue, my stomach has also been my weakest spot. Nothing dreadful, but if I had an illness it seemed to go straight to my stomach. I’ve never really worried because there wasn’t really a big problem and I didn’t really want to bother my Doctor.
That all changed last August. I got hit with Norovirus and spent a month between the sofa and the loo. I couldn’t eat, or walk around the corner, I was so unwell. It took 2 lots of very strong antibiotics before I began to feel any better, and then my husband had his 2nd Cardiac Arrest, so I just muddled through. Christmas I succumbed to illness again and didn’t see anyone except my immediate family because I was too weak. Again antibiotics were prescribed. When it was bad again in February I went back to the Doctors and he started to get me tested to see what could be wrong with me. Blood tests, pooh tests, checking for cancer markers. He couldn’t understand why my iron levels were through the floor when I haven’t had a period in 10 years. We went back over my history and he though he had an idea. I was prescribed iron and B12 and sent for an Endoscopy…yuck! I didn’t like that at all! All they found was a hiatus hernia. But while I was there they asked why I wasn’t having a Colonoscopy too and booked me in for the next week. The procedure for that isn’t that dreadful, but the medication they give you beforehand to “clear you out” is not nice at all. Again, they didn’t find anything horrid. My Doctor decided that I needed an MRI next, so back I went. More goop, but because they were checking my intestines I got to go in feet first and on my tummy, so it wasn’t as worrying as I’d thought it might be. The journey home on the bus was -erm- interesting…the goop made me need to go to the loo and I hadn’t considered that! While we were waiting for the results my Doctor said he’d send me for a Pelvic Ultrasound to double check there was nothing there that could cause my iron levels to be low. Now I wasn’t really worried about the procedure because obviously I’ve had smear tests, but I did feel a bit sorry for the young man who had to do it. He was being supervised by a lady and for goodness sake, they must have to do some to tick the boxes in their training! I was given a modesty towel and he kept his eyes firmly on the screen in front of him! Anyway, all was well from that test.
Whilst now waiting to see my Doctor I’ve had the results from my MRI which says that I have Crohns. To be honest, that’s what my Doc said he thought it might be right at the offset, and that I’ve probably had it my whole adult life and it flares during times of stress. When I’ve looked it all up its clicked into place. I shall probably have to take iron and B12 for my whole life, but that’s fine. Actually my Doctor told me about some Iron Water that was found in a mine in Wales. I thought he was pulling my leg, but it’s really good. I have a sachet in juice in the morning (Vitamin C helps iron absorption) and doesn’t make you constipated!
My Doctor has been bloody marvellous throughout. I’ve not had to wait that long for any of my procedures either. I love the NHS.