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Hi everyone, I'm new to the boards and thought I'd share my story...

I was first diagnosed with anemia when I was in grade 11. I was extremely involved at my high school, as well as in the community, and I thought my exhaustion was due to being so busy all the time. My hair was falling out (I thought I was just noticing it more because I had finally grown my hair long, and thought maybe it only SEEMED like I was losing an awful lot of it), I had difficulties breathing (chalked that one up to asthma) and horrible chest pains (I just tried to ignore this one).

It wasn't until around exam time that I began to think maybe there really was something wrong. I had stayed at a friend's house to study with her, and we had spent 18 hours going over facts. I woke up the next morning to shower, and as I was drying myself off, my chest began to tighten. I was sure this was due to the chest pains I had been having, and as I passed out, I thought "Oh great, now I'm having a heart attack". I smashed my face into the door, and ended up writing my exam with a black eye.

I had been in and out of the hospital with various anemia symptoms, only I wasn't sure what they were. I just felt like there was something wrong. I was certain it was my heart, and ended up with a heart monitor machine that I had to wear for a few days to see if there was anything wrong. I was also tested for diabetes. Eventually, my doctor received my blood test results and told me that I had severe anemia. I was at a level 4, and my organs were starting to shut down on me. So uh...that wasn't good, lol.

He put me on iron supplements, as well as vitamin C, to help absorb the iron. I had to take them three times a day. After about 4 months, my levels had gone up to a 6. I felt a bit better, but was still exhausted all the time. I'm now starting my fourth year of university, and my levels are at a 7. I don't take the iron pills anymore (don't yell at me!) because recently my family found out that there is a hereditary disease called hemochromatosis in my family (this is an overload of iron in the blood) and taking iron supplements is not a good idea until you've found out if you have this disease or not. So now I'm waiting for DNA testing to come back to see if I have the gene for this disease....argh!!

It's been a long bumpy ride, but I'm feeling great now, despite not being on iron supplements, and my hair has stopped falling out, haha! Also, this past spring I went with my friends to a blood drive, and on a whim, I decided to see if I could pass the iron test to get in...and I did! My iron levels must have been great that day or something...anyway, I got in, and almost made it to donate blood. I got caught after filling out the questionnaire though, and they sent me packing. I'm hoping to get my levels up high enough so that I can finally donate!

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