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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pumping Iron

Ferrlecit is a fast-infusing iron supplement used to combat anemia related
to iron deficiency. Infusions are often done in chemotherapy centers.
Since my WLS "birthday" labs required further review, I went back to the hematologist who did my first round of iron infusions. Dr. Imtiaz Malik is caring, compassionate and thorough -- not always easy to find among specialists in small valley towns.

Dr. Malik is excited that my tests show some stored iron in my body. He had feared that my previous bowel obstruction would prevent my body from storing iron anymore. He is happy to be wrong. But some stored iron is still not enough stored iron and therefore, another round of iron infusions is necessary. This time around is different, though. We're trying a new type of iron that infuses faster. So instead of being tethered to an IV pole for half a day, I'm in and out in a little over an hour. I still get nauseated with the treatments, and the iron stings while it's infusing -- but those side effects are manageable and only last while I'm getting the infusions.

The challenge is dealing with the side effects that come later. Being lethargic and groggy for 24 hours from the Benadryl that is administered with the iron to prevent allergic reactions is annoying but tolerable. A little extra sleep doesn't do much harm. The hard thing for me, though, is night sweats. Yuck. Nothing worse than being awaken from drug-induced sleep to soaked jammies and sheets.

So what is the upside? Ask my friends. I've been told I'm "the old me," happier, more cheerful, more alert and "with it." Acquaintances comment on the change in my color. I suppose I'm not as pasty as before.

But for me, the benefit is much more than cosmetic or even social. The fact that I don't get killer leg cramps when walking up the stairs means I get to be the one to carry my daughter to her room at night. It means I don't have to make excuses not to play with her because I'm not as easily winded anymore.

So, yes. I am happier. I get to exercise and play with my daughter without feeling like I'm 80 years old. And all that extra oxygen that comes from having enough iron means I don't feel like my head is full of cobwebs. I can carry a simple conversation with minimal effort. Sometimes, I can even hold my own in complex conversations. I don't feel stupid. I don't feel drugged. I feel...human. And I really like the return to humanity.

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