Monthly Archives: February 2014

Iron Fortified Me

Over the past few months I haven’t been quite myself.  Irritable.  Sad.  Disconnected.  Lonely.  I found it difficult to concentrate and work through the stress at work and home.  I thought I was fighting another bout of depression, and there was good reason.  I have two small children and a stressful job.  I try to please everyone and oftentimes please no one.  Feelings of inadequacy and failure can lead anyone to feel depressed.  To top that off I was excited to get back into my fitness routine, and I sprained my toe.  Really?!  Do you know that a seemingly insignificant toe can cause a great deal of pain and inhibit even the simplest of activities?

In the midst of all this some cool and exciting things were happening with my children.  My son (6) expressed an interest in karate.  I found a community education class that offered three sessions as an introduction to see if this was really something he was interested in doing.  He completed the first two and was looking forward to the third when he would be able to sign up for real classes and be fitted for his uniform.  This third class coincided with my daughter’s fourth birthday, and we planned on celebrating as a family after my son’s karate class.  However, something happened…about 1 o’clock in the afternoon before all this activity was to happen, while doing pretty much nothing, my heart started to pound and I felt very dizzy and lightheaded.

I laid down and tried to watch a movie on my iPad to relax, but after two hours my heart continued to pound and the room was still spinning.  I called my husband.  Funny that he was just downstairs in the house, but with our modern technology we use our cell phones to call and text even if the other is in the next room.  Anyway, I digress.  I told him what was happening to me, then I called the emergency room.  The triage nurse told me to call 911.  I honestly didn’t feel like my life was in danger, so my husband drove me into the emergency room where I was whisked into the critical care unit and hooked up to monitors, stuck with IV needles, and an oxygen tube was wrapped around my face.  Inundated with questions.  Wheeled off for a chest x-ray.  More questions.  All tests coming back negative (normal).  It was decided that I was not in a life threatening situation, but what was causing my heart to beat like this?  Why was I so dizzy?  The doctors decided to keep me overnight for observation and have me undergo a stress test in the morning.

All I could think about was how disappointed my children were.  No karate for my son.  No family birthday celebration for my daughter.  I failed again.  My dear hubby encouraged me to give myself a break.  And I found out later, that my son completely forgot about his karate class, and my daughter was oblivious to the missed celebration–both things I had magnified in my own mind.  They were fine.

The next morning I was hooked up to more monitors while walking briskly uphill on a treadmill.  After that was a lengthy consultation with a cardiologist who was completely baffled because my heart is perfectly healthy.  He determined that what happened was a result of increased stress and dehydration, which made perfect sense.  I was discharged.

I went home and for the next week I felt awful.  I couldn’t think straight.  The slightest thing caused my heart to beat fast and hard.  I saw my primary physician for follow up.  She reviewed the notes and test results from my ER visit and noticed that my hemoglobin was a bit low, so she ordered blood tests to check my ferritin levels (ferritin is a protein in the blood that indicates the amount of iron in the blood cells).  The bottom of the normal scale for a woman is 12; my result was 5.

Eureka!  The problems I was having weren’t about my mental/emotional state, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with my heart.  I have iron-deficiency anemia.  I am now on iron supplements and feeling much more like myself again.

For those of you old enough to remember Popeye, remember how he used to pop open a can of spinach and was infused with the strength to beat up Brutus and rescue Olive Oyl?  That’s what I feel like.  I have the strength to take on any challenge life throws at me.

The word fortified means that something is added to increase strength, support or reinforcement of another thing especially emotional. Fortified refers to something that is moral and intended to give encouragement.

I am an Iron-Fortified Me!