How I’ve Been Managing my Anemia on My Own

I have been anemic for as long as I can remember. Long before puberty too.
I eat all the right foods, but I have never been able to keep my levels high enough without close monitoring and taking supplements. (Which is much better than eating sand, by the way. Uhm, yes. Low iron makes me crave dusty sand.)

So far, no-one has been able to establish the root of my anemia. I don’t have any auto-immune diseases, cancer, infections or tummy troubles. Apart from my fast heart rate, extra pale skin, super sleepiness and a headache that’s never left, I’m as “healthy as a horse”, apparently.

I was used to the luxury of having a full blood panel run whenever I wanted it, in South Africa. My pills and supplements were always prescribed and this all came off my medical aid. Then I decided to hop across the pond and my health took a turn because my GP is just not interested and refuses to refer me.

Whilst pregnant, my iron levels were watched like a hawk. I got given some iron tablets that made me through up after I took them. We never managed to get my iron levels much higher. I had my baby and that was that – back to the same GP and no further to finding any real solutions.

I can’t tell you how tiring the first year of motherhood was. I mean, new parents know, but when your blood isn’t carrying around enough oxygen, it’s just a continuous, foggy nightmare.I decided that it was time to take matters into my own hands  because every day felt like I had been hit by a bus. I was a sore, exhausted zombie.

At first, I thought about seeing a private doctor, but their rates were a bit steep and I’d still have to pay for the blood tests too. My solution was using independent labs like HealthLabs.

I really like this route because I can choose exactly which tests I’d like done. I pay for them and then go do them. No referrals and no queues. The results are emailed back to me within three days.

I’ve also used “at-home” sample collection kits that let you post a tiny bottle of blood to a lab. These are great when I just want one thing tested, like my iron, but I usually go into a pathology lab for the rest of the tests because they require more blood to be taken.

At the moment, I get my ferritin, iron and B12 checked every two months and I get a comprehensive test done where they check my platelets and a bunch of other things too, every six months.

Based on these results, I alter my diet and supplements as needed. In general, I’m feeling much better. I’m quite chuffed with how well I’ve been able to manage my health on my own. I’m still technically anemic, and I’m sure I always will be but at least I don’t feel like a zombie anymore.

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