I have Iron Deficiency Anaemia. My levels hover around HB 110-106 Ferritin 11 at best, 4 and below at worst.
There will be people out there with far worse levels, there are many more with far higher.
It has been said that I have naturally low levels – being a young (ish) woman with awful periods and a vegetarian to boot it’s not unusual for my levels to be a bit low. With this in mind I take my iron tablets and I eat a healthy diet compete with all the leafy dark green veg you can think of.
However, my levels continue to rise and fall at will and I tend to hit my own personal health wall when they get around HB 106 Ferritin 4. When my most recent tests confirmed these figures I wasn’t surprised – I had been feeling like c@*p for months.
The signs were all there – I was exhausted, sleep didn’t help. Exercise, parenting, working and generally having fun was becoming more and more difficult.
To be honest I was relieved when the tests came back. No one wants to have something wrong with them but with so many symptoms and feeling like life had become an uphill struggle it was a relief to know it was just my Iron levels.
Amazing how it can cause so many problems.
The latest test results also meant I was referred for my first Iron Infusion. I’m not a fan of hospitals or any kind of procedure (huge wimp with needles!). However, nothing else has worked and I would do pretty much anything to feel better. I know the results are temporary, hopefully around 4 months, but my consultant is hopeful we can turn the corner so fingers crossed.
So, here is my experience of getting an Iron Infusion for Iron Deficiency Anaemia.
My appointment was at 3.30pm, I was relieved to hear I didn’t have to stop eating or do anything special before hand. I just had to turn up on the day ward.
The ‘ward’ is actually just a large room filled with those reasonably comfy/wipe clean hospital armchairs. Everyone had a pillow for their drip arm and there was a coffee machine.
The room was half full, around six other people of varying ages. I felt a bit weird when I first arrived but a few welcoming smiles from the other patients made me feel better and the nurses were all lovely.
The worst bit was the cannula – I doubt anyone considers that remotely pleasant. It is however pretty obvious that the nurses do lots of these day in day out and I was really impressed how quick it all was.
They then hooked up the bag – warning: Iron Infusions resemble brown sludge!
The infusion lasted for half an hour – the room was so quiet so I just checked my emails and took some time to read to Huffington Post.
It’s probably a bit sad to admit I almost considered it to be some rare me time!
After the Infusion finished they kept me behind for another half hour to make sure I didn’t have any sort of reaction, which I didn’t. I was then free to go.
I have read online accounts of Iron Infusions in America where they give you Benadryl to reduce the chance of having an allergic reaction, it also makes the patient very sleepy – many report sleeping through the Infusion. None of this on the NHS – you get your chair, a pillow and some banter with the nurses!
On the brightside you also walk out feeling totally fine rather than doped up!
Happy to report I didn’t encounter any of the more serious allergic reactions and left hospital feeling fine.
I slept OK the first night but suffered some mild side effects over the next couple of days. I felt sick and had stomach cramps. The worst of these symptoms came on the evening of day two when I seriously considered if it was all worth the trouble. I do feel a little better today and hope that I only continue to improve.
I was told I could expect to see an improvement in my Deficiency symptoms quite quickly. It’s a little hard to tell whilst dealing with the side effects, but the one thing I have noticed is that I feel more clear headed (even while feeling rough). This would be a big improvement as when my levels are low I do feel very foggy – not much fun.
I’m hopeful this will help, even if only in the short term, so fingers crossed!
If you’ve had an Iron Infusion or you’re due to have one I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.