If you haven’t read Part 1, then you should probably go back and read it.
If you’ve already read Part 1, and understood the medical jargon, then you’re probably thinking “Uh…holy shit, CeCe!”
Yeah, so…I didn’t quite understand the seriousness of the sitch until later. I’ll get to that later.
Dr. G didn’t want to jump straight to the infusion. She wanted to try other options, and I was cool with that. There’s a reason why I went the naturopathic route (I’ll be doing a post about that soon), and I’m all for trying that first before going the traditional route.
She prescribed iron pills. I had to take two pills, three times a day.
She also prescribed Vitamin D pills. One pill on the daily.
And she also prescribed Slow Flow pills. One pill on the daily, then three as needed every 3-4 hours during menses. Taking these is supposed to give me a more normal—hopefully less heavy—menstrual period. Is this too TMI for you? Suck it! This is real life, people.
I’m going to be completely honest here (as if I haven’t already, right?): me and pills do not get along. By that, I mean I tend to not be consistent with taking them.
My parents take what seems like a handful of pills at every meal and it was kind of an ongoing joke. “What are you guys up to now, 50 pills a day?” Granted, those pills are a mix of medication and multivitamins.
But now, I started to feel like I was taking 50 pills a day! And it was getting to me. The D-12 wasn’t so bad, because they were the smaller, soft gels. But the other pills, they were a little bigger and, maybe I was psyching myself out, but it was getting harder and harder to swallow.
I mean, I’ve taken these kinds of pills before on occasion:
But taking them multiple times a day when you’re not used to it? It got to be too much.
I called the doctor’s office and said “Do I have another option instead of the iron pills?”
Liquid iron was suggested.
Apple Cinnamon flavored.
I had to take a teaspooon everyday before eating. I thought I could put it in my coffee, but it made it taste weird. So, I put it in a little plastic travel container and drank it at work before I ate breakfast.
The thing iiiiissss…sometimes I would forget to take it. :/
And I knew that when I went back for a retest in Feb 2018, the results wouldn’t be all that great.
And I was right.
My iron levels had only gone up two points (from 10 to 12)
And all that other jargon I mentioned in the first post? Yeah, those were still down, too. Even though the numbers were a little higher than last time, it was nowhere near the normal range.
July 2017 results were as follows:
My Hemoglobin levels were at 6.5 g/dL grams per deciliter (g/dL). The normal range is 11.5 to 16.
My Hematocrit levels (this test determines the percentage of red blood cells in the blood.) were at 23.8% Normal range for and adult female should be 38%-46%. The reference range for my test was 35-48%.
My MCV levels (mean corpuscular volume – the size of red blood cells) was 60.3 fl (femtolitre). Average levels for an adult is between 80 to 100. The reference range for my test was 78-100.
My MCH levels (mean corpuscular hemoglobin – the average amount of hemoglobin found in the red blood cells) were at 16.5 pg (picograms). Normal MCH levels are around 27 to 33 picograms (pg) per cell in adults. The reference range for my test was 27-34 pg.
My MCHC Levels (mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration – the measurement of how much hemoglobin is inside one red blood cell) was at 27.3 g/dl. A normal MCHC level for an adult is 31-37 g/dL.
Feb 2018 levels were as follows:
My Hemoglobin levels were at 7.6 g/dL grams per deciliter (g/dL).
My Hematocrit levels were at 26.7%
My MCV levels was 65.3 fl (femtolitre).
My MCH levels were at 18.6 pg (picograms).
My MCHC Levels was at 28.5 g/dl.
So, yeah. Numbers are up a dab, but not normal.
It was time to get serious: iron infusions.
She refers me to a blood disorders clinic that just happens to be within walking distance of my house. Sweet!
I get in there and I’m talking with Dr. B. She’s asking me questions and scrolling through her tablet. And then came the nearly same reaction as Dr. G.
“There’s a lot here, so I’m just trying to find the test results…” she trailed off.
She looked over at me.
Then back at her tablet.
Then back at me.
“We need to get you in here right away,” she stated abruptly.
My eyes widened. “Uh, ok…” I stammered. Because, yeah, I wanted this shit taken care of as quickly as possible.
“I don’t know how you’ve managed this long,” (ah yes, that sounded familiar), “but obviously your body has been trying it’s best to compensate.” Major. Understatement.
And then she broke it down for me by providing a visual diagram (appreciate that since I’m all about the visual learning thing), which I shared with you below.
As you can see, there are normal, reduced, and increased Hemocrit levels.
Guess which one is me? I’ll give you a hint: pink arrow.
If you’re thinking, AGAIN, “Holy shit, Cece!” then you’d be right.
I had two options with the iron infusion: a less expensive kind (don’t remember the name) that would require 10 sessions or a more expensive kind (Injectafer) that would only require 2 sessions.
Guess which one I chose? Bwaha.
What is Injectafer?
According to their site:
“Injectafer Iron (ferric carboxymaltose injection) is used to treat adults with iron deficiency anemia (IDA) when oral iron treatments haven’t worked, or side effects from oral iron couldn’t be tolerated, or for adults with chronic kidney disease who are not receiving dialysis…It is a mineral that the body needs to produce red blood cells. Injectafer is a dextran-free iron replacement product made of iron inside a carbohydrate shell that is administered directly into the vein. It was designed specifically to gradually release iron once inside the body, which may decrease the potential for some side effects, and conveniently give you more iron in just 2 administrations…
Dextran is a molecule that can be used in intravenous (IV) iron therapies. Dextran has been associated with allergic reactions and side effects. Although all IV irons all carry the risk of side effects, Injectafer is a dextran-free IV iron treatment option….Injectafer is designed to give you more iron in less time with 100% of the iron entering the bloodstream”
What are the possible side effects of Injectafer?
Again, according to their site:
Injectafer can cause serious side effects, including:
- Serious allergic reactions that may be life-threatening, including shock, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and death. Your doctor or healthcare provider will monitor you for signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction during and after each dose of Injectafer for at least 30 minutes. Other serious allergic reactions include itching, rash, hives, wheezing, or low blood pressure. You should report any signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction to Injectafer, in particular rashes, shortness of breath and wheezing to your doctor or healthcare provider.
- High blood pressure, sometimes with facial flushing, dizziness, or nausea, has been seen during treatment with Injectafer. This increase in blood pressure typically resolves within 30 minutes. Your doctor or healthcare provider will monitor you for signs and symptoms of an increase in blood pressure following each use of Injectafer.
Other serious side effects that have been reported include rash, difficulty breathing, itching, rapid heartbeat, fever, chest discomfort, chills, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue, back pain, muscle aches, and fainting.
The most common side effects of Injectafer include:
Nausea, high blood pressure, flushing, low levels of phosphorous in your blood, dizziness, vomiting, headache, an increase in certain liver enzymes, and pain or bruising at the injection site. Potentially long-lasting brown staining of skin near the injection site may occur if Injectafer leaks out of the vein.
Let me just say, had I known about all the above side effects ahead of time, I would’ve had nightmares for days. Possibly even worked myself up into my very first panic attack.
I think I had even meant to do some research to find out more about it. Good thing I didn’t.
I had the infusions done mid-March, two weeks in a row.
The two procedures lasted approximately 30 mins each and I was monitored the whole time. I even had to wait an extra 10 mins after the line was completely empty to make sure I felt all right.
The cocktail was diluted with saline and dripped into my vein as I sat comfortably ensconced in a cushy recliner.
I read the whole time.
I can tell you that I had no allergic reactions.
But I did get a headache and my muscles did feel a little achy, like they mentioned above. I was warned about this ahead of time and Dr. B said it was because my body would be sucking it up because it’s been so starved. Makes sense, but it wasn’t fun.
That happened the first time, two days later.
The second time, I was fine.
Blood draw in 6 weeks.
Come back next month for the verdict.