Monday, February 06, 2006

Ridiculously anemic

Mr. Parris used to say that everyone should get their ferritin checked. Ferritin is very related to iron, and it's a key predictor of performance in endurance sports. For instance, Carolyn was working hard and not improving, so he had her get her ferritin tested and it was 14, which was very low, so she went on iron and got way better. So it's good to test for ferritin.

But getting your ferritin tested requires a blood test, and I only ever had one blood test in high school, and they were already testing for so many things that I felt bad asking them to test for another one. And then when I had that blood test I passed out, so I decided I didn't like blood tests. This is why I don't give blood, other than the fact that I am ALWAYS an in-season athlete, because if I have trouble with them taking 1 mL or 10 mL or however much they take, there's no way I could survive their taking a pint.

Anyway, they thought maybe I had mono so they took a blood test last week, and I didn't pass out, and I don't have mono, and they tested for ferritin! I was really excited when I heard they were going to test for ferritin. It was the most exciting thing that happened to me all week.

Today the results came back. My ferritin is at 8. Eight! And Mr. Parris was shocked when Carolyn's was 14! The normal range is between 20 and 60. Athletes should be in the high 20s. And mine is at 8. Other than the fact that I didn't train all fall, this explains why I am working hard and running really slow.

Ferritin, if you can't tell from the name, has to do with iron. Basically there is no iron in my body. So I am really anemic, and I have to take a lot of iron. Twice a day, unless it upsets my stomach, and it is not going to upset my stomach because nothing upsets my stomach. In the past six years I have had an upset stomach twice, which was the two times I ate lots of mushrooms. Iron is not going to be a problem.

So I went to the pharmacy to buy iron. They were sort of closed, so I was looking really fast to find a bottle of iron pills. I was looking all over for something that said iron. Alphabetical order? Vitamins separated from minerals? I couldn't figure out how it was organized, and I couldn't find the iron.

Finally I found it, labeled "Fe tabs." You know your pharmacy is catering to an educated audience when the supplements are labeled by their chemical abbreviations. "Excuse me, do you have any Ca? I need 200 mg of Ca. And how about some Fe?" So I got 100 Fe tabs. In a box. It was very strange.

Apparently this will help me with shortness of breath. At the health center they asked me if I had experienced shortness of breath. I said yes. Then they asked me about certain details about this alleged shortness of breath and I got all confused. "What's is the definition of shortness of breath?" I asked.

Apparently this is not a normal question. Apparently normal people don't ask for definitions. But I am one of those precise people who wants to know what, exactly, we are talking about, and they told me the definition, and I realized oh, I do have shortness of breath. I get way more tired when I sprint from my dorm to the math building than I used to. When I run up the stairs to my room I am tired. And the iron, we hope, will alleviate these issues. This is just what happens when you're ridiculously anemic.

1 comment:

Val's mom said...

FerroSeguels (in a green box) are also a good supplement as they have an anti-constipation effect. Are they testing you for vitamin B-12 deficiency which is a major cause of anemia? Do you eat meat? leafy green vegetables? beets?
I hope you feel better soon.