“Do not go gentle into that good night (…)
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Dylan Thomas. The Poems of Dylan Thomas. New Directions Publishing Corp. 1952, ’53. 13 June 2014.
From the outside, anemia does not look like much of an illness, but it is a quite common diagnosis. Many people can live long happy lives with anemia, despite the urging from a shifting majority to “stop using it as an excuse,” to “buck up” and “get over it,” or the constant reminder, “I know (so and so) had it and they didn’t-” Well, I am sure you can imagine the rest. The declarative “it” being an entirely personal and hard to communicate, nagging feeling of general malaise.
Truthfully, the average woman can expect to experience bouts of anemia after a “traumatic” life event like; menstruation, surgery, childbirth, and around menopause. The major complaint is feeling run down, achy and tired (exhausted with little to no energy). Some adolescent/young adult menstrual disorders can also precipitate a lingering diagnosis of anemia like amenorrhea (menstrual cycles lasting extended periods of time) or anorexia (can cause extended periods of time when there is no menstrual cycle because there is not enough calories being consumed.) It can affect people regardless of age, height, race, sex, socio-economic conditioning or weight.
Subtle symptoms of chronic anemia often go unnoticed or are sometimes misdiagnosed as other things or attributed to other possible causes like; (PMS), being “moody”, “ill-tempered”, “depressed” and my personal favorite, “just doing it for attention.”
In all reality, anemia happens very slowly, and it’s signal can come rather suddenly in the form of: angina (chest pains), or fainting. As well as the gradual: forgetfulness (difficulty concentrating), pale skin, constant fatigue, thin curving brittle nails, no half moons in nail beds (indicates lack of oxygen in blood), pica (craving strange non-food items) as well as many other symptoms all being indicators of a lack of “good” red blood cells.
Living with anemia (on and off), usually included extended stays in the hospital (to regulate my blood and observe my system in a controlled setting) after months of feeling rather blah. Treating anemia with iron supplements is usually recommended for the first few months after an initial diagnosis of anemia by a health care physician, along with several follow-up visits.
As a concentrated form, these supplements can cause the blood to regulate itself temporary and provide the patient with a boost in energy and perhaps emotional affect. Tablets or pills are not the only sources of iron that can help increase energy naturally, and are not a “long-term” treatment option. A balanced iron-rich diet with nutritious organic qualities include;
- Iron fortified milks (non-dairy included)
- Iron fortified cereals
- Kidney Beans
Incorporating these iron rich foods in a low sodium healthy diet based on whole grains, fruits and vegetables will ease off the need for supplements once the red blood cells test between (14 and 17 respectively) (indicating a healthy number of red blood cells).
I included the Dylan Thomas excerpt, because I often think of how true it remains of any hardship, illness or problem, men and women face today. At times it feels so good to just sleep to not hurt, but in order to truly live life to the fullest, we must rage against that creeping compliance with fatigue, that comes in the form of continuous yawns and far away glances. We must rage and seek out the light, to not go gently into that “good night.”
For more on the different types of anemia and different ways to treat it, please visit these links:
1. WebMd- is an excellent source for learning more about anemia, the possible symptoms and treatments. (It is in no way the same as a professional consultation so if you suspect you or a loved one may be anemic please consult a medical professional.)
2. Iron Disorders Institute- is a good resource for information about everything related to Iron Disorders. The website is easy to navigate, pleasantly designed and offers more possible causes and diagnoses of Anemia (specifically iron-deficient anemia).