I like to think I’m someone who doesn’t take good health for granted. I eat right and workout to make sure I’m in as close to top form as I can get without committing to an Olympic-level routine. But I’ve never been sick sick before. Well, that all changed on March 5th. I’d been feeling a bit off for a couple months; stairs would send my heart racing and workouts I used to be able to complete with no issues suddenly became incredibly difficult. I wrote it off, thinking that I’d simply over-worked myself. I didn’t stop working out, but I cut down on the intensity a little. But….it didn’t get better.
Then on the 5th around 11am, I could have sworn I was having a stoke. Spots in front of my eyes, right hand half-way numb, and no ability to concentrate. I tell you what, the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced was spending 10 minutes trying to write a two sentence email and literally not being able to string the words together. The whole episode lasted about an hour, but it freaked me out enough that I went straight to Urgent Care. The doctor said he thought I’d had a “migraine equivalent episode with a neurological event” and he recommended I follow up with a GP and neurologist and get an MRI. I followed up the next day, the quack neurologist told me it was just a migraine and nothing was wrong and sent me home, and I had to call the GP and convince her that she at least needed to do a blood test if they wouldn’t do an MRI. She reluctantly agreed. Good thing.
My blood was drawn on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon I got a call from the GP telling me I needed to go to the hospital for a blood transfusion ASAP. Turns out I was critically anemic – my haemoglobin was 6.4 (it’s supposed to be between 11.5 – 15). Long story short, my parents met me at the hospital, I stayed overnight, had two blood transfusions, an iron transfusion, and a couple dozen tests run and was let go the next day with a haemoglobin count of 8.4. I was all ready to go to work, but my parents nixed that plan and made me go home with them for the rest of the weekend…. Now I have a weekly iron transfusion until the end of March. Still no idea what caused it. In September my haemoglobin was around 13, so it was a rather sudden drop from a medical point of view. I don’t know what my count is now, but I tell you what, I feel 10 times better now than I did before.
The point of the story is that you should never take good health for granted. I have overall good health and youth on my side (apparently most people with a count of 6.4 can’t get out of bed, I was exercising 30+ minutes a day up until the day I went into the hospital – which was down from my 45-60 min norm), but I’ll never again ignore it when my body tells me something’s wrong. I’m still much, much luckier than most of the people in the hospital. The infusion center (where I had my iron infusion yesterday –after being stuck 3 times for an IV) was full of cancer patients. Anemia is certainly more manageable and treatable than cancer, but for someone who’s always been in near-perfect health, it can seem just as scary.