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Hi Kaymarina,

Please don't despair, I know exactly how you feel, really. It's horrendous, really debilitating, and can make you hit rock bottom. I was tested about 6 weeks ago because I felt just awful, nausea (the worst symptom), severe lack of appetite (I lost 1 stone in weight over 6 weeks!!) extreme dizziness, extreme tiredness, panic attacks, anxiety, cold hands and feet, palpitations, shortness of breath, aches and pains.. the list goes on. I actually requested they test me for ferritin as around 12 years ago I had to go on iron for 6 months as my level was 4. This time it came back as 11. Still very low. I was so pleased that I finally found out what was wrong as I had had a lingering bad chest infection and pleurisy for about 6 weeks previous to that and I strongly believe it didn't clear up because my body couldn't fight it well enough.

Anyway, in my experience this time round I had to take a month off work while the tablets kicked in. I'm 6 weeks in and a lot of the symptoms are far better. I started to notice a difference at about the end of week 4. I am still very tired and can feel queasy in the mornings still (but that may be that the iron plays havoc with my guts meaning I have to poo pretty much just after waking - I don't get constipated with iron at all, in fact quite the opposite!!), plus the dizziness is there in the background but not nearly as bad as to begin with. I am able to go to work on reduced hours now (5 hour days instead of 7) and have been back just over a week so far. My employer sent me to Bupa who did an occupational health consultation/report.

Hang in there, it's a long hard road and you will feel like death warmed up, it's the nature of the illness as its all encompassing. Don't let anyone tell you "oh it's just a bit of paleness and tiredness", it's so much more than that, it affects everything you do. Try and rest as much as you possible can. Try and educate your employer too if they are not very understanding. Maybe print something out about the symptoms and treatment etc. One of my bosses asked me offhandedly "so when will you be better then?!" My answer to that was "how long is a piece of string?!".. he wasn't impressed. The point is it takes everyone a bit of time to recover, how long isn't up to you, don't let anyone push/bully you back into work or doing anything else you might not feel up to.

I find gentle walks or a swim is good therapy. Keeping active is important, don't want to seize up! Just take everything easy, get the iron down you and wait. Waiting is the worst part! Oh and if you have issues with the iron and your stomach, don't worry, your body will slowly get used to it. Some days I only manage 2 tablets but then I'm fine to go back on 3. When you do take the tablets try and take them with something to eat, they irritate your stomach much less then.

Good luck and keep us posted! It's a tough illness, but like other people have said it does get better, and please attempt to try and find out why your levels are so low.. heavy periods? Celiac? I am off to get checked out for fibroids etc soon, on my own request.. You have up really push doctors for referrals sometimes, but it's your body, and you have every right to protect it!! :-)

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