Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ironman, can I have some iron?

(Sidenote: I have a hard time sitting through movies, and, therefore, have not seen many. However, I have seen both Ironman movies.)

On Wednesday I went to see my endocrinologist for a check-up. He had me get some blood work done beforehand since it had been over one year. I went to get it done a couple days before my appointment. Blood work always seemed like a waste of time to me and an unnecessary needle in my tiny veins. But I went, like a good patient.

When I was meeting with my endo., we talked about my training regimen. He gave me some advice that has helped other athletes he has worked with in the past. As we were talking, he was flipping through my blood work results. My stomach began turning when he started asking questions....

"I assume you've had low iron in the past since you are a vegetarian, right?" No, my iron has always been fine.

"Have you been feeling tired lately?" Yes. When I started to think about it, after I did a 15-miler in June, I did not have enough energy to do anything longer than 10 since. I chalked it up to just working out a lot, twice a day. However, I was told differently.

I am anemic. My iron is so low that my doctor was surprised I could run for 10 miles straight. I guess I have a lot of determination to get those runs done. He ordered more blood tests to be done since not only was my iron incredibly low, but also my white blood cell count as well. When I asked him why that was, he told me that it could me anything from not being hydrated enough while I gave blood to the iron effecting it to leukemia to a vitamin deficiency. He wanted to see what was wrong. He did give me a prescription for iron so I can have more energy again.

I got a call yesterday from the nurse, who told me that not only was my iron low (apparently there is a range and 10 is low, but my iron count was 2), but also my hemoglobin (which should be 13-15 - mine was 10), red blood cell and white blood cell count. She said that my iron was the most concerning and my doctor will check the other levels at my next appointment in October.

I started to wonder about things....I think my iron has been low for the past month for sure. But, how did it get that low? I had been sleeping 10+ hours a night, which I know is not normal. This past week has been pretty rough and I feel like my tank is drained. Although I started taking my iron pills, I know they take a couple of days to work. My doctor said he didn't think I would be full strength again for 1.5 months.

With all the conundrum of the week, I decided not to race in the duathlon that would have been today. Honestly, I don't know if I could have done all the biking. The hills on the course were mountainous! But, I am still doing the Bix, the 7-mile road race. My runs have been slow - 9:30 pace or so - but I will complete it. The last mile is all uphill which will me I will be completely exhausted at the finish, but I don't care. I've wanted to do this race for a long time, and even though my time will be awful, I'll try my best. Life will go on, my iron will come up, I will get more energy.

Have you ever had low iron? What did you do for it? How low was it?

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