memia anemia

For all the work I’ve done to accept my body as it is, and to try to treat myself with kindness, it’s tough not to internalize and feel guilty when my body isn’t operating at its best.

Pumping iron

I noticed I was feeling really run down during my last trip. Actually, if I think about it, I’ve been feeling kind of run down for a while. It’s little stuff; feeling lightheaded if I bend over to pick up something off the floor, feeling dizzy if I stand up too fast, lack of stamina for exercise longer than 10-15 minutes at a stretch, and sleeping ’til 9:30 am and *still* feeling like I could take a nap at lunch.

But…I’m fat. If I’m lightheaded, if my heart is racing, if I’m tired, it’s easy to fall back on the standard explanation: “I’m just really out of shape. If I weren’t so lazy, I’d feel better.” (Ouch, right?)

Then a colleague and I took a short walk (less than half a mile) around downtown Nassau, and I thought I was going to be sick from exertion; my heart rate was in the 150’s after climbing a relatively small hill. I had to stop to rest multiple times.

I blamed it on the heat and a full stomach, but that explanation didn’t sit well with me. I pride myself on being able to keep up with my colleagues, despite my size. Lisbon was all stairs, for example, and I made it up some pretty epic flights without feeling like I was going to puke.

The Paleness

When I got home, I mentioned these episodes to Tim, and he pointed out that I’ve had issues with anemia in the past (I even take a daily iron supplement). Maybe I should get my blood checked?

Insert light bulb moment.

Yep, it’s iron deficiency anemia (IDA), and it’s kicking my ass. My hemoglobin is half what it should be (I’m .2 points shy of requiring a blood transfusion), and basically everything related to red blood cell production is low. I started iron infusion therapy this week, and I’m told it will probably be a couple weeks before I start to feel better.

Hindsight being what it is, I see all sorts of red flags now. I’m incredibly pale, my fingernails are curving up at the edges, and I have the olfactory equivalent of pica — I crave strong chemical smells (I have a bottle of camphor essential oil that I sniff every once in a while to take the edge off). IDA is pretty bizarre!

But I was quick to blame myself as my symptoms escalated, even though it was clear to a third party that I needed medical help. Is that something born out of my touch-and-go relationship to my body, or is that just the kind of thing we humans do to make sense of the chaos?

It’s probably both. In any case, I’m hopeful a couple rounds of IV iron will help me feel better soon. In the meantime, I’ll be working from the couch and catching up on all the TV I missed when I was mobile. Shrill on Hulu is my new favorite thing.

Nassau, Bahamas, 2019

I’ll be honest, this was a rough trip. I know it’s hard to feel bad about visiting tropical climates in March; that part was definitely A+. And I always enjoy meeting with my colleagues and spending time with them in person.

Travel-wise, I got off to a rough start. My first flight out was canceled due to a winter storm, so I spent an extra day and night at the airport hotel. I was already anxious about the trip and kind of homesick to begin with, so the extra time to sit around and wait didn’t help. My rebooked flights were packed, of course, and added an extra flight to the mix, so that was frustrating.

When I finally did get going, I just felt off. When my second flight of the day landed in Miami, I stood up and felt like I was going to pass out. Thankfully I didn’t, but that feeling of lightheadedness persisted throughout the trip. (More about that later.)

I did appreciate the change in scenery, though, and our meetup home at Palm Cay was perfectly situated on a white sand beach. I felt like we spent the time productively with team building, problem solving, and plenty of laughs.

Disney World 2019

Is there anything worse than being forced to sit and look at other people having fun in their endless stream of vacation photos? Probably, but the joy of blogging means you aren’t sitting in front of a slide projector, and you can scroll on by if you like. 😉

Disney was a bunch of fun. I think I may have overestimated my family’s stamina for walking around theme parks — six days was a stretch, and Tim bowed out on day 6 so he’d have energy for travel the next day. That said, I was totally into it and would have done more if I could.

The kids met new characters, started pin collections, and we rode a lot of new rides. I particularly enjoyed the roller coasters, and the kids particularly did not enjoy the roller coasters (although they get points for bravery). This year they were also old enough to ride things alone, which meant I didn’t have to subject myself to motion sickness from multiple rounds on the teacups. Win!

We tried a couple of evenings at the parks, which had mixed results. I wanted to see some of the nighttime events (fireworks, light shows, etc.) but the parks are much more crowded in the evening, and it’s harder to see while you’re walking around. It was also about twenty degrees cooler than it was during last year’s trip, so when temps dipped into the 40s at night, we weren’t really prepared. Apparently we are morning people!

The kids loved the heated pool at our villa, and the cooler weather didn’t deter them one bit. Gwen taught herself to swim — underwater and everything — and Ellie gained more confidence in the water. I tried the pool a couple times, but much preferred the spa in our bedroom.

All in all, it was a successful trip, and we’re already figuring out the budget for next year. For now, I hibernate until my next adventure.


Ungrateful kids

Ellie, commenting on my ahem swift enjoyment of a Mickey bar: “Wow, Mama, you’re almost done already?!?”

Gwen, without missing a beat and with no trace of irony: “It’s her big mouth.”