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Hello, anemic friends!

I'm new to the board and have been reading the posts like crazy trying to make sense of my recent discouraging blood test results. The results are similar to many others who've posted, but I wanted to run them by the forum in case something stood out. Any insights, advice or just plain encouragement would be very welcome.

A little background. I'm a 44 year old woman, vegetarian (no meat or fish) for almost 40 years. I started menstruating when I was 14 - pretty heavy flow but very regular and no problems otherwise. No other health problems at all, in fact generally energetic and hearty, until a few years ago when I started having phases of terrible fatigue, depression, headaches, stomach aches, etc., and was first diagnosed with anemia. I'd stopped attending to my diet like I used to, so I'm not too surprised. All other blood work, heart, lungs, thyroid, B12, RBC, WBC, urine, etc., always look good. (If it matters, I have an 8 mm Chiari malformation, which produces odd but livable symptoms.) Iíve included my iron test results at the end of this post.

In March I had my first ever irregular period (a little late and longer than usual), so I went to the doctor. Ultrasound revealed a probable dermoid (c. 6 cm) on my right ovary. MRI and ultrasounds over the past 8 months have shown no growth or change to the cyst. The doctors aren't worried, but encourage me to have it removed laparascopically once my iron levels are up.

Despite my doctors' reassurances, I've been excessively anxious since they found the cyst. I was feeling very well for a full year before, but once I heard the word 'cyst' I got terrified and immediately started feeling unwell. My iron numbers have plummeted since then. Can the cyst be exacerbating the anemia? Can my anxiety about it be exacerbating the anemia?

Periods have been normal since then except last month, when I was a bit late then bled severely for three weeks. Endometrial biopsy was normal, but a bit estrogen dominant (probably an anovulatory cycle; perimenopause).

I have a few questions that hopefully someone can shed some light on:

(1) Could the cyst and anemia be related? Is there any correlation between Chiari and anemia?

(2) Could the anemia be causing hormonal imbalances? Could improving my iron help balance the hormones? (I'd rather take iron than hormones.)

(3) I've been taking Vitron-C (65 mg) twice a day for two months. My doctor now recommends 365 mg prescription ferrous sulfate 3 times a day! That seems huge to me. Is anyone else taking such a large amount? Is it going OK for you?

(4) It looks like some of my iron stores have gone up a bit, but some numbers have gone down. I'm not really clear on what all the numbers mean. What, for example, is iron saturation, and why might mine be getting lower? Could it simply be explained by the three-week-long, hemorrhage-like period last month?

(5) When the TIBC and UIBC were high I was happy because it indicated I 'just' had an iron deficiency (right?), not anemia of chronic disease (so scared of cancer, though no family history). Now that those numbers have normalized, I'm worried! Is that just my over-anxious mind worrying over nothing?

Thanks, all, for reading this long post. Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

Here are the iron-related numbers for March, September and November of this year:

3/13

RBC 4.85 OK
HG 13.2 OK
HCT 40.9 OK
MCV 84 OK
MCH 27.2 OK
MCHC 32.3 OK
Iron serum 80 LOW
Iron saturation 22 OK
UIBC 358 OK
TIBC 380 OK
FER 14 OK
VITd 8.3 LOW

9/13

HG 11.1 LOW
HCT 35.7 LOW
MCV 77.2 LOW
MCH 24.0 LOW
MCHC 31.1 LOW
Iron serum 38 LOW
Iron saturation 8 VERY LOW
UIBC 429 HIGH
TIBC 467 HIGH
FER 4 ALERT
VITd 19.1 LOW

11/13

HG 20 LOW
HCT 31.6 LOW
MCV 81 OK
MCH 25.6 LOW
MCHC 31.6 OK
Iron serum 22 VERY LOW
Iron saturation 6 ALERT
UIBC 358 OK
TIBC 380 OK
FER 10 VERY LOW
VITd 32.8 OK





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