Monday, August 25, 2014
A Tale of Hypothyrodism and Iron Deficient Anemia
By the end of June I was so fatigued, if you left me to sleep, I could sleep for 16 hours a day! If you knew me you would know this is a HUGE problem. First, I don't have time to sleep like that! Second, I used to be able to wake, on my own, about five minutes before my alarm would go off. I know, it sounds strange but I don't like being startled awake so I would wake on my own. With the fatigue I was sleeping through my alarm AND not making it to work on time!
At the same time I was noticing that my hair had thinned to the point you can see my scalp, my nails were brittle and weak plus I was having may stomach issues (gastric upset and diarrhea). I kept seeing my general practitioner (GP) doctor and getting no where. I had been getting blood all along while seeing a a few GPs. On my blood work they did find my thyroid was WAY high for me. Typically my thyroid is about 1.5 to 2. When it is that low I feel better and have more energy to deal with things. The test showed it was 6.5. This was quite high and helped to explain my fatigue and brain fog. The bad news was my hair was still falling out and I was not feeling more energized after taking two months of a higher dose of thyroid. So my GP suggested I see a specialist and sent me to a hematologist.
I had told her in the past I had issues with iron deficient anemia. This has been a problem for me since the birth of the Quads. I think it has to do with the hernia patch. The doctor had stitched the hernia patch (which looks like a screen mesh) to my abdominal wall. I think when I do ANYTHING that requires the use of the abdominal muscles that the patch pulls at the incisions site (on the abdominal muscles) and causes bleeding. I think this bleeding is causing my autoimmune system to go nuts plus is increasing the internal inflammation in my body (as seen in my increase Protein C numbers). My lab work at the time showed my hemoglobin and hematocrit were within "normal" range. My numbers were at the lowest number of the acceptable range or one number above. Since my GP just scans lab work versus reading and interrupting the results herself she did not think I had an iron issue but still wanted me to see a hematologist because I had mentioned I take a multivitamin with iron AND an iron supplement yet my levels were pretty low.
At the Hematologist I explained about the fatigue, brain fog, and general feeling of being unmotivated to do anything. My issue with my nails, hair, tongue (would get super sore and super sensitive to salt and hot sauce) and the gastro problems. Then I told him about my theory involving the hernia repair. He listed patiently. Then he ordered a bunch of blood work. The hematologist did an expanded blood work planel to include the percentage (%) of hemoglobin in the blood. When that blood work came back I finally had proof I was not only iron deficient but I was pretty severly iron deficient! The percentage of hemoglobin in the blood values that are consided "normal" are 8% to 50%. Huge range, right!?! My value was 4%. This is EXTREMELY LOW for a woman! So I was ordered to get IV iron transfusions. When I asked why the Hematologist said I was not absorbing iron in my digestive track for some reason. I perviously had an upper and lower GI testing done and the GI doctor could find nothing wrong. I was even tested for celiac disease, irritable bowel disease and milk allergy. I did not have ANY of those! The hematologist was not sure why I was not absorbing iron from my diet or the supplements I was taking but he knew the IV route would at least get my iron level up and do it quickly! It took about 2 weeks after the IV iron transfusion (the transfusions took two weeks) before I was feeling MUCH better.
I missed my last appointment with the hematologist through a misunderstanding. I am bummed because I am already noticing my hair falling out more again and I feel tried more readily but at least now I know what's wrong. It has taken me THREE months and lots of testing to figure it out but I did! I have an appointment to go back in two weeks. I can't wait! Nothing like being poked and watching what looks like rust drip into your viens and then feeling FABLOUS for a few weeks! LOL
The moral of this story...
Just because your lab values are "normal" does NOT mean that everything is okay. If you are not feeling well continue persuing the subject until you have an answer! NO ONE know YOU better than YOU!
For a blog with some really good information on Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (autoimmune thyroid disease) or hypothroidism in general please check out Hypothyroid Mom blog. It has a wealth of information!
For information on iron deficient anemia please check out Hematology.org. The site has a lot of information on symptoms, testing and what you can do to increase iron in your diet.