Recovery…

So, I’ve been living with treating my severe anemia for almost a month now (Obviously, I’d been living with it for a few weeks, and several months of mild to moderate anemia before that).

Being anemic is a semi-common thing- apparently it’s VERY common in small female distance runners (coincidence?), due to the iron lost in sweat and when your foot hits the ground when running.

However, having a hemoglobin level that almost puts you in the hospital for a transfusion and being told that if you were in a car accident and lost blood, you probably wouldn’t live to see the ambulance arrive… well, that’s not quite as common.  That’s downright scary!

Right after I was diagnosed (Okay, so it wasn’t RIGHT after, but it was after the initial shock), I set a couple of goals for myself with getting better.  Here goes nothing:

  • Take my prescribed iron supplement every day (with Vitamin C).- I haven’t missed a single iron pill.  I did forget to take it one morning on my cruise but took it early that afternoon when I remembered.
  • Take my multivitamin every day.- I’ve missed a multivitamin or two, mainly because there were a few days when I just didn’t want to swallow that horse pill.  I haven’t missed over 3, though.
  • Eat foods from the iron-rich food list my doctor gave me.- I’m eating lots of iron-fortified cereal, spinach, beans, whole wheat bread… and basically anything else I can find with iron in it.
  • Gain weight the healthy way.- It’s been hard, but I’ve gained a little weight.  I have another pound or two to go to get back to my pre-sickness weight, but at least the scale is moving in the right direction (which I realize is the wrong direction for 95% of Americans, but anyway).  I’m also lifting weights and eating lots of protein, which should help me put on muscle.
  • Do light cardio exercise.- Obviously I’m not allowed to run yet, but I’ve found other cool things to do.  I started going to Zumba at the gym, and it makes me happy like running always did.  I think it’s the music and the upbeat instructor.  I also did another cardio class that involved a lot of punching and kicking a punching bag; that was loads of fun!
  • Get enough sleep.- I’m striving for 8 hours a night, but that’s hard to do when you have to get up so early for work.  I do take afternoon naps sometimes, and that helps, but honestly… I just don’t like to sleep that much!  I’m trying to get more though, even if it sometimes means not going out or doing something I want to do to get my rest.

I’m also limiting my caffeine intake to one caffeinated drink per week.  Caffeine inhibits iron absorption.  I need to absorb every bit I’m getting from my supplements and food.  Since I can only have one per week, I’ve learned to make it count, so I get a Vanilla Coke from Sonic or a McCafe or something.  This is a pretty tough thing to do, because I was used to drinking a Diet Mountain Dew every day- but I know it’ll be worth it to cut that out.  Of course, there are trace amounts of caffeine in lots of drinks and foods, but at least I’m not KNOWINGLY putting it in my body.

And, as you can imagine, I really do miss running.  At first, it wasn’t so hard-  I didn’t feel very good anyway, and then I went on my cruise, which took my mind off of things.  The past week or so has been harder since I’m feeling better.

I miss the endorphins and happiness I got from running, and walking just doesn’t do it for me (Zumba, on the other hand, makes me happy inside).  I also spent a lot of time thinking when I was running, just sorting through whatever was on my mind- so a lot of it is mental.

I always worked out and ran- it’s something I’ve been doing for years.  I followed a vegetarian diet.  I went to the doctor each year, but I rarely got sick- I always figured the exercising kept it away.  It reminds me of a professor at my college who ran daily and who even ran marathons, but one day, he had a heart attack.  I’m pretty sure his fitness helped him recover; he returned that next semester and taught his usual classes.

It seemed kind of ironic.  Why didn’t the heart attack happen to someone overweight or sedentary, someone who didn’t eat right or exercise- not a guy who ran marathons?

I know what my problem was- I didn’t listen to my body.  Not only that, but I didn’t listen to a few others who told me that something was up and that maybe I needed to see a doctor.  I just thought it was an ‘off’ day- almost every day.  Maybe I was a little dehydrated, maybe it was the heat?  I spent more time trying to attribute feeling bad to something externally than the fact that maybe, just maybe, I really wasn’t as healthy as I thought.

So, I’m going to the doctor on Friday (this is a new doctor- we won’t go into the many reasons why).  I’m hoping to see a MUCH higher hemoglobin/iron count and a higher number on the scale.  I really hope the doctor will let me (slowly) get back to running and working out, but I’m not getting my hopes up.  It’s a new doctor, so they might be cautious.

I didn’t get sick overnight, and I won’t immediately recover.  Getting better is an endurance race, not a sprint.

I just know that so far, I’m on the right track.

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One Response to Recovery…

  1. Jamie says:

    Awww. I’m glad you’re attacking this problem with the same gusto you give to running. It sucks not being able to run, I know, but it’s only for a little while. I know you’ll be back in no time and we’ll run the Race for a Cure 5k in October and (hopefully) the Run like a Nut 10k in November. 😀 You’re doing great, so hang in there and keep up the good work.

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