Iron Lady

At the risk of proselytizing with the zeal of a new convert, I want to share with you my latest discovery. 


For the past few months I have had very little energy. I think of myself as the kind of person who has high energy: I feel I have lots of things to do, but am blessed with all the energy I need to do what needs to be done. It’s been several months since I felt that way, though. In retrospect, I’ve been slowly running out of steam.


Casting an eye over my ‘to do’ list has had me nearly in tears at the thought of all I have to do and of how I’ll never manage to do it because I simply don’t have the energy. Even looking at the list made me feel tired, overwhelmed and like an immediate failure.


That was bad enough. What was worse was the sudden, inexplicable weight gain. All the clothes I like in my wardrobe are a size 10. I am not. Not any more. Since September of last year, I have gone up a dress size. This depresses me no end. You’d want to hear what I’ve been saying to myself; out loud, under my breath, and in my head.


Sharing my despair with a friend, she suggested that I might have a difficulty with my thyroid gland. My symptoms were a match. I spoke to another friend who was diagnosed with hypothyroidism two years ago. The symptoms she spoke about – the extreme fatigue the weight-gain, the brittle nails, the life-less hair – were very familiar to me. Too familiar. Depressingly familiar. But, at the same time, I was excited. If it was hypothyroidism I was suffering with, then a simple blood-test would let me know. After the diagnosis, there were pills that would put all in my world to rights. I presented for the blood-tests and had myself convinced I was suffering from the condition and would soon be happily living with it.


Imagine my surprise when, a week later, my doctor told me that my test results showed nothing to worry about in the thyroid region. I was disappointed. I know, it’s a bit mad to be disappointed to learn you don’t have an incurable medical condition, but I was desperate to have an answer – a reason for all that was going ‘wrong’.


But there was more. Drawing my attention to a line of red data, my doctor informed me that my iron levels were alarmingly low. Usually at around 15, they were currently showing up at a decidedly low 1. She suggested that this might be what was robbing me of my zest for life. I was doubtful. I had all the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism – how could mere anemia account for all that ailed me?


Suffering a bout of extreme scepticism, I started my course of iron tablets.


Oh Lordy! The difference those pills made in a matter of a fortnight! I wish, wish, wish, wish that I had gone to the doctor for a blood test months ago.  I have found that I am waking up refreshed and raring to go after 6-7 hours’ sleep. I am looking at my ‘to do’ list with delight and zest. I am staying up past 7pm in the evening not because I have to – to supervise homework and send emails etc. – but because I feel I have the energy to. I don’t guilt trip myself out of bed in the morning, I rise full of excitement at what the day might bring. 


My brittle nails and less-than-bouncy hair are also easily explained away by a lack of iron in my blood. Iron brings oxygen to the cells in the body. None of which can function well – or even properly – without oxygen.


I’ve even figured out the weight gain issue. My sub-conscious was convinced that my lack of energy was due to a lack of food; so encouraged me to eat more than I needed to. I have noticed feeling inclined to eat less and less in the past ten days or so.


As if in any doubt, I knew all was well when, on Friday morning, I was up humming and happily scrubbing toilets at 5.30am.




So I’d urge you – if you are no longer feeling yourself, instead of trying to figure out why, head to your doctor and ask her to figure out why. That’s her job, after all.