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Hi Jessica,

I know exactly how you feel. I have had low iron most of my life, but not so bad that it affected my daily living until about 5 years ago (when I was 38!). After talking with my primary care Dr. we decided that I should take iron pills (Bifera from Walgreen's, the only ones that didn't make me sick!) twice a day with food (just no dairy or black tea since they can inhibit absorption) and also with a vitamin C since they help the iron to be absorb.

After a year my numbers were still borderline but I was exhausted. There were days when just taking a shower was a chore. Luckily I was only working part-time and have a VERY understanding and supportive husband, so the days I felt like I just couldn't function, I would crawl back into bed and sleep the day away, or at least until my son and daughter came home from school. Luckily they were both teenagers and were able to fend for themselves on my bad days. Anyway, after the year with not much change my Dr. sent me to a Gastro for a colonoscopy (standard in my family since on both sides colon cancer runs rampant), an Upper GI Endoscopy and a Capsule Enteroscopy (which my young nephews thought was "way cool :cool:"). While the colonoscopy was just routine the Endoscopy was done so the Gastro could take a small biopsy of my stomach to test for celiac disease, which has been known to inhibit the absorption of iron. And the Enteroscopy which looks at the small intestine for the presence of lesions compatible with celiac disease. Everything came back negative. So back I went to my Primary Dr. who then did a ferritin (also known as your "iron stores") level test and it came back at 7 (bad...very bad...as she said). So back to the hematologist I go and she sets me up on an 8 week schedule of Iron IV infusions (or as the nurses like to say...chocolate syrup!). It takes about a month for the new iron to recycle through the marrow and then get me to the point of feeling human again. For the 8 weeks, I spend one day a week (and by day I mean from start to finish I'm there 4 hours at the most). A couple of weeks after my last session I go back to my Hemo just to make the Iron "stuck". My Hematologist likes it to be @ least 100. Esp. since when under 70 my hair starts to thin out around my hair line...ugh...My husband and mother say that I'm the only one that notice's it though because my hair is thick and crazy :dizzy: curly. Then once a month I go to my regular doctor (who is a lot closer to me) for an iron/ferritin study & she faxes the results to my Hemo. If she (the Homatologist) sees a drastic drop from one month to the next or if my level drops below 70 she calls me and tells me it's time to come back in for another 8 week session. All in all I probably do about three 8-week sessions a year. I can honestly tell you it has changed my life. There are still days when I crawl back into bed or feel like my brain is full of cotton, but compared to where I was a few years ago, I am more than happy.

No one was ever able to figure out why my body just stopped absorbing iron and for a while it really bothered me not knowing (my periods have always been on the heavy side but only for a day or two...luckily!). But I think once I really started feeling better, I decided to not harp on the "why" and just be happy that I can actually function more days than not. Plus I'm saving money since I know longer have to buy iron pills anymore!

Be your own advocate and if your insurance covers it, ask to see a Hematologist. If your regular doctor blows it off, change doctors...our health is the most important thing we have. I'm not sure where you live but if it's in the Boston area, The Dana Farber Clinic (yes, it's a cancer clinic but Hematologists do a lot of work with blood cancers also), is where I go and they have an amazing staff of both Dr's and Nurses.

Take care and I hope you are able to get the help you need to put your mind & body at ease.





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