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What to do now?
Mar 3, 2010
Hi everyone-

Sorry if this is rambled! I'm dealing with some terrible brain fog right now! I'm new here. Here is my story. I've been a vegetarian since I was 11 years old (I'm 25 now). I've been exhausted almost as long as I can remember! I've been asking doctors almost every time I go if there was any possibility that I could be anemic. They always told me that I was fine.

I went through my first pregnancy at 21 years old and they told me that I was slightly anemic and that I should eat more iron. No supplements or anything. After my daughter was born things went downhill. Major foggy brain, and sooo exhausted. I felt crabby all the time, and I had no idea why. People told me that I was just tired from having a newborn.

I've also been battling mystery stomach pain, GERD, and had my gallbladder removed. Every time I brought up my fatigue, doctors tried to write me a perscription for anti-depressants, even though I was NOT depressed! Just tired!

I kept seeing doctors for these random symptoms: low blood pressure (despite the fact that I don't really work out), dizziness, fatigue, weakness, headaches, and stomach pain. Doctors told me that they were testing me for anemia but would then tell me that I was fine. I have since seen the medical records and every time I had a CBC my hemoglobin was flagged as being low. It usually wasn't extremely low, but it was always flagged with an L right next to it. Is this the test they were doing to test for anemia? I'm so confused about what anemia actually is defined as. Online I read that it was low hemoglobin; so why, oh why would they be telling me that I wasn't anemic if my hemoglobin was low?

Finally, in 2008 I found a doctor who didn't try to push anti-depressants on me. He actually listened and performed a Ferritin and Vitamin D test. My ferritin was 8 and my vitamin D was 22. I was feeling SO terrible by then; I could barely function and could not stay awake all day. I knew I was going to fall asleep no matter what I did, and taking care of my 2 year old daughter was a huge challenge! My doctor had me start on 325mg of iron three times a day, plus 1000 IU of vitamin D. I did this for 2 months before becoming pregnant with my 2nd daughter.

I had terrible morning sickness and every time I took iron pills they made me throw up, so I stopped taking them. I kind of figured that I wasn't really anemic since SO many other doctors had told me that I wasn't. When I felt better I asked my OB if I should take them again and she said no (even though I just found out that my hemoglobin was at like 11! Isn't that not good?). I did take prenatals, but no extra iron.

I ended up going into pre-term labor at 32 weeks with my second daughter. The CBC that they did at the hospital came back with my RBC was 3.57, hemoglobin was 11 and my hematocrit was 33.5. No one ever said anything about me being anemic and they just sent me on my way.

After I had my daughter a month later my levels were still low. A few months later however, my CBC levels were back up to normal, although I have no idea what my ferritin was. I was nursing at that point in time, so not having a period. I think that helped my iron levels.

It's been almost a year since having my 2nd daughter. I almost completely forgot about the fact that I was once anemic, and had no idea about my chronically low hemoglobin levels until a few days ago when I decided to glance at my medical records, because I've been feeling terrible lately.

I don't know how long it takes to bring up a low ferritin level of 8, but I'm assuming that 2 months of iron supplements probably didn't do the trick, especially with the pregnancy and breastfeeding draining my body. I'm pretty certain that my current health problems (fatigue, dizziness, headaches, brain fog, nail problems, and hair loss) are caused by low iron. I've made an appointment with a new doctor (the wonderful one I found before has since moved :( ), but it's not for another 2 weeks! So in the meantime, what do I do? If I start taking iron will my levels improve by then so I won't test positive for anemia? Should I just keep living with this fatigue and brain fog? I am most certainly asking for a ferritin test.

Also, can you have low ferritin levels and NOT be anemic? And if so, how is "anemic" defined?

Thanks so much in advance for the help! :)

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