I realized I really need to do an update to bring things up to speed or else here in a week or so I'm going to be talking about things that don't make sense without a bit of back story. So, here we go.
Coming out of my half marathon three weeks or so ago, I was extremely tired. I actually crawled into bed before having a post-race meal which isn't like me at all. Don't worry, I didn't lay there for long before my body demanded food so I did end up eating and then falling asleep right away. I got seven or so hours of sleep that night, but the next day I slept for almost the entire eight hour drive home and was still ready for an early bedtime. On Monday I sat in my classes barely able to absorb what my teachers were saying. I really thought all of this was just post-race fatigue, but I couldn't remember ever feeling so poorly after any race before. I was also getting the head rushes upon standing up and getting completely winded going up a couple of flights of stairs. I'd just run 13 tough miles, none of it made sense.
I got in to see my PCP on Tuesday that week. She wanted new labs and they confirmed what we both already expected, the anemia was back. This time my hemoglobin was down to 10 and my ferretin had fallen all the way down to seven. My total red blood cell count was just hovering at the low end of normal but was now lower than previously. I was without iron stores and terribly low on the essential protein that transports oxygen to the body's cells. None of this is good.
I don't really know what happened. My numbers weren't great when I started my running back up, but they weren't this terrible either. All I can figure is whatever is causing me to lose more blood than my body can replace was aggravated by the strain of running the race. I'm getting an upper and lower GI scope on Thursday to try to figure out what is going on. Evidently, when you have major iron deficiency anemia the GI tract is a common culprit so this is one of the first things they want to rule out. The possibilities run the gamut from a bleed at the join of the j-pouch, to celiac disease (causes iron malabsorption), to ulcers, to some new manifestation of IBD. There is also the potential that they will get in there and find a big ol gastric cancer tumor, but I refuse to entertain that possibility right now. It is also possible that they won't find anything at all and this will remain a mystery. In that case, I believe my next stop is the OB-Gyn to rule out bleeding fibroids or endometriosis or some other mystery ailment of the lady bits variety. I don't think it will be something like that, but you never know. If we are still baffled at that point and my numbers are still so terrible, then I think the next step is a hematologist.
It's all very frustrating. On the one hand, I hope to have an answer after Thursday. On the other, I'm afraid of what the answer might be. I have a gnawing fear that they will come back and tell me I actually have Crohn's and, oops, now it's in my stomach or small intestine and I'll end up having to take the very drugs I went through all of this surgery to avoid. I don't know. I'm also worried because anything that requires surgery or a hospital stay is going to mean dropping my classes for summer and delaying my progress toward my nursing degree. I just want to have my life and do normal things. That's where I'm supposed to be right now and it's all so far out of reach.