Tag Archives: anaemia

Anaemia update

Last Christmas I realized I was feeling ropey and had been feeling extra rubbish for quite some time.  I was dizzy, constantly.  I could be sitting watching TV and all of a sudden the room would lurch to the left and back again, and there were days when every time I moved my head the world tilted on its axis.  I could sleep for 8 hours straight which is unheard of for me and two hours later need to go back to sleep (I’ve never slept during the day no matter how ill I’ve ever been not least because ME has given me horrific insomnia).  My brain was so fuzzy I literally couldn’t form cohesive thoughts and I had exhaustion so profound some days I couldn’t get off the couch.

Of course, all of these are symptoms of my pre-existing conditions but this felt totally different to my normal rubbish-ness and I knew I wasn’t having an M.E. relapse or a mast cell or EDS flare.  No, something else was going on and I instinctively knew it was related to my iron levels particularly as when I had my period I was absolutely poleaxed.

As outlined in my first post on Anaemia back in February I have several risk factors for iron deficiency and, coupled with my peri-menopause and worsening endometriosis, I knew I needed to get my ferritin levels checked.  They unsurprisingly came back at 17 which according to the lab results was right on the bottom rung of ‘normal’ (17-291), though realistically in order to feel well you should have a ferritin level of at least 50 and preferably above 90.  My vitamin D was also considered sub-clinically low, ie outside the normal range.  My GP dismissed anaemia though because my red blood count was fine and basically just fobbed me off, however she wasn’t the one feeling so crap she couldn’t function so I started on some over-the-counter supplements.

My mast cells seem to hate tablets of all descriptions, so my options are limited to liquids and syrups which are few and far between.  In addition, many of the liquid iron preparations such as Floradix contained all sorts of ingredients I didn’t want or need such as apples (to which I’m mildly truly allergic), spinach, nettles and CoQ10.  So I opted for the ‘Get More Vitamin D mango & passionfruit‘ drink and ‘Spatone‘ natural iron water both of which I could have delivered with my groceries from Tesco.

I have about 200ml of the Vitamin D drink each day, which tastes OK but not brilliant, and gives me 80% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D.  According to my GP, the lab won’t re-test Vitamin D for 12 months so I’ve no idea whether or not my levels have improved after nearly 10 months of supplementation.

Spatone is a sachet of naturally iron rich water which I take mixed in pear juice (the vitamin C aids absorption of the iron and disguises the awful metallic taste).  Iron supplements are, however, notorious for causing nausea, reflux, constipation or diarrhoea and I must admit after 4 days on Spatone I felt sick 24/7 and had awful colic-like stomach pain.  So I had a break for a week, then re-started the sachets but just taking a teaspoon per day and gradually working up to a full sachet.  This worked fine and I had no side-effects whatsoever 🙂

Within a week of starting Spatone my dizziness almost disappeared and I did feel a bit less tired which was great, but unfortunately for me the effects haven’t lasted.  By September I was starting to feel battered by exhaustion again, wanted to sleep for England, was as white as a sheet and feeling constantly dizzy.  In addition I seem to have developed tinnitus, which is a constant low level high pitched ringing hiss in my ears, and I’ve noticed a change in my toe nails (but not my finger nails!).  One of my toe nails has split and despite the nail continuing to grow it just keeps splitting in the same place, while the other nails have started to flatten at the ends.  Spoon shaped nails are a sign of anaemia, but when you Google images you only see horrendous photos at the severe end of the spectrum which bear no resemblance to my mildly flattened nails.  So here’s a couple of pictures of what’s happening for me:


I doubled my dose of Spatone but it didn’t help.  In fact, my symptoms continued to get worse so I rang my GP again, who tried to fob me off by saying that as I already have ME the peri-menopause is going to knock me about, but I tried calmly to explain that I know what ME feels like and this is completely different.  I insisted I wanted my bloods done again, in particular my ferritin and thyroid, although I’m sure my thyroid is fine as I’m not cold and have had no weight loss or gain issues other than that expected of going through The Change.  The first appointment for a blood draw I could get isn’t until 7th December (!), then of course it has to be sent to the lab, analysed and the results sent back to my GP by which time it will be sodding Christmas and everything will grind to a halt until January when it will be so busy getting another appointment with my GP to discuss the results will be impossible.  So I’m now trying to find a different liquid iron supplement to take but am so far struggling.  The thought of feeling this awful for at least the next several weeks, and in particular over Christmas, is pretty depressing.

When you have a chronic disease doctors do tend to put every single symptom you have down to that and it’s often a fight to get them to investigate new symptoms.  But investigate them you must, because it’s been my experience that all the new symptoms I’ve developed over the years have been down to hitherto unknown diseases and were nothing to do with my pre-existing M.E.  In particular, trying to get my chronic pain recognized was a mare because all the doctors I saw simply put it down to part of parcel of M.E. or tried to diagnose me with Fibromyalgia when I knew it was something else, which of course turned out to be Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.  Then my stomach issues were put down to my EDS, when they turned out to be Mast Cell Disease.  And now my rubbish-ness is being put down to the peri-menopause or my M.E. when it’s going to turn out to be anaemia or at the least iron deficiency.

It’s so hard to fight the medical profession for treatment when you are this exhausted and there are days I feel like putting up and shutting up, but unfortunately that’s not an option when I am so floored I can barely get through the day.  So I shall keep on plugging away until I find out what’s actually going on and come up with a solution.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Blood Results

I had to go to the Surgery today to pick up my Famotidine prescription, so while I was at reception I asked if my recent blood results had come back.  They had, so I requested a print-out and there is some great news and some mildly not-as-great news.

The good news:

  • I only have a 1.3% change of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years.  You can do your own QRISK test online here.
  • My inflammatory markers (Serum C reactive protein) are low at <2mg/L (normal is anything under 5mg/L).  Bizarre being as though I have chronic gastritis (an inflammatory stomach disease), MCAD (which causes chronic inflammation) and am permanently injured due to my EDS (injuries cause inflammation).  My C reactive protein levels have always been low, which is great if not a true predictor of what’s actually going on inflammation-wise!
  • Liver normal.
  • Urea and electrolytes normal.
  • Blood sugar is fine.  HbA1c level is 32, which equates to an actual blood sugar level of 5.5% (anything under 48/6.5% is normal).
  • Folate levels are good at 4.7ug/L (anything above 2.5ug/L is normal).
  • B12 levels are good at 378ng/L (normal levels are between 197-771ng/L).  Obviously as a pesco-vegetarian it’s important to monitor B12.
  • Full blood count is normal.

The not as good news:

  • My Vitamin D levels are normal but at the low end of normal.  I live in the northern hemisphere and we’re at the end of winter, so this is to be expected.  I do try to keep my Vit D levels up by eating dairy products daily and getting outside for at least 30 minutes every day of my life with Bertie, but we don’t have much sunshine here in the north of England so it’s easy for Vit D levels to be low.  It’s not something I worry about in any way and I don’t usually feel any worse in winter than I do in summer.
  • I have low iron, which again comes as no surprise and is the reason I went for a blood test in the first place.  My serum ferritin is 18ug/L (normal is 17-291ug/L) and, coupled with my 5 risk factors, I need to see my GP re iron deficiency anaemia.  Sadly I can’t get an appointment with my GP until 22nd March (!) so in the meantime I’ll buy some liquid iron from the supermarket and try that (liquid iron has less iron in it than most of the tablets, so tends not to cause constipation though it does take longer for iron stores to increase).
  • The biggest shock was that my kidney function is lower than it should be for my age at 73 (between the ages of 40 and 59 it should be in the 90s).  A GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate) of 73 is classed as stage 2 chronic kidney disease, although doesn’t require any treatment.  I would have completely freaked out when I read this if my best mate, who is 8 years younger than me, hadn’t had the exact same result recently.  Her GP said it was nothing to worry about, though you do wonder why we both have reduced kidney function!  My Mum has a GFR of 45 but her GP isn’t bothered and says no treatment is needed, so it seems unless your GFR is 1/3 of normal it’s not something to be concerned about?!

In a way I’m glad my iron has come back low because it explains the symptoms I’ve been having for the past few months and hopefully I can do something about it (makes a change!).  Having been pesco-vegetarian for nearly 30 years this is the first time my ferritin levels have ever been below normal, so it just shows the impact a reduced diet or taking certain medications can have and also the extra burdens placed on our bodies during Menopause.

Anaemia

I’ve been feeling really washed out the past couple of months and my get up and go has got up and gone.  Both ME and EDS cause “fatigue” but I’ve had both for so long that I know what that exhaustion feels like and my current waffy-ness feels different.  I’ve also been dizzy……a lot.  I do suffer from dizziness as part of my existing conditions, but only for the odd day now and then and it’s usually so severe I can’t get out of bed.  My current dizziness is milder but ever present and each time I turn my head the world tilts slightly on its axis.  Plus I’m not sleeping.  I’ve had insomnia for over 2 decades but again this feels different and I just have a niggle that “summat’s up”.

Of course I am peri-menopausal and fatigue, dizziness and insomnia are simply part of the bag for many women.  But then so is anaemia especially if your periods are heavy, and mine are definitely heavier than they used to be.  There are various types of anaemia, but in menstruating women iron deficiency anaemia is the most common so I made an appointment to see the nurse today to get my bloods checked.

I have just about every risk factor for anaemia going:

1.   Peri-menopause/Menopause

Any menstruating woman can be at risk from anaemia, particularly if she has heavy periods.

2.   Endometriosis

I’m not just bleeding from my uterus every month, I’m also bleeding into my pelvic cavity because I have endometriosis.

3. MCAS

Anaemia is the most common issue affecting red blood cells in MCAS patients.  See Lisa’s excellent post written on this issue over at Mastattack.org

4. Gastritis

Any type of inflammatory stomach or intestinal disorder can cause anaemia, eg. gastritis, ulcers, diverticulitis, crohn’s disease, colitis, coeliac disease, GERD (ie acid reflux).

5. Drugs used to treat GERD

PPIs, H2 blockers and antacids can all interfere with iron absorption and I have been swigging Gaviscon and Rennies recently like they’re going out of fashion on top of taking an H2 antihistamine.

4. Diet

I’ve been pesco-vegetarian for nearly 30 years.  Before getting Histamine Intolerance I was very careful to eat a wide range of high iron vegetarian foods but since getting HIT and having to eat low histamine I’ve had to remove many of these from my diet, eg. spinach, soya beans, kidney beans, dried fruit, cashew nuts.

Diet deserves special mention.  People with ME, EDS, HIT and/or mast cell diseases are often on restricted diets of one kind or another.  Here in the UK we hardly ever get to see a Dietician, so are left to try and work out our food issues alone.  We often don’t have the skills or knowledge to decide if we’re eating enough of the right foods to give us all the vitamins and minerals we need, so it’s really important to have our bloods checked once a year just to make sure we’re not deficient (I was shocked to learn today that I hadn’t had a full blood work up since 2014 despite all the various issues I’ve had in the past year or two!).

I won’t get my results back until early next week, so I’ll keep you posted.  For those of a religious disposition please pray I’m not anaemic and don’t need iron tablets.  My poop is the only thing in my entire digestive tract which is currently normal so the last thing I need is to not be able to go-potty for days on end! 😉