Shortly after my marriage in 2008, I began having terrible stabbing pains just underneath the bottom of my rib cage. These pains persisted and only got worse as time went on. So much so that I found myself in the Emergency Room late one night, curled into the fetal position on the exam table. It was after a couple of weeks of invasive tests that I was diagnosed with a Peptic Ulcer.
Everything about my lifestyle suddenly had to change. My diet, my stress level and I had to begin constant medication to keep it in check. If all of this wasn’t bad enough, my Doctor telling me that I must do things or run the risk of it perforating and bleeding internally made it all that much more horrible. So, I began my new healthier and mellower lifestyle by my ulcer had plans of its own.
Several weeks later, and quite suddenly, my pain returned and with a vengeance. The constant churning and gnawing was killing me. My Doctor upped my medication dosage but by then, I was throwing up blood. My ulcer had now perforated and was now bleeding. Not much would soothe this savage beast and eventually I was on a procedure table with a camera shoved down my throat again.
I adapted and learned quickly to sort of deal with the pain and discomfort but new symptoms were cropping up almost every day. I could barely get out of bed I was so exhausted. Walking to the bathroom would leave me winded. Not to mention being lightheaded and dizzy constantly.
My Doctor was almost one hundred percent sure that due to my bleeding ulcer I had developed Anemia. The quick skinny on Anemia is this: when your blood is lacking red blood cells, you don’t get enough oxygen, which in turn makes it harder to do just about anything. The more blood you lose, the weaker and more dysfunctional your body gets.
My Doctor immediately put me on a high dose supplement of iron but taking the iron gave me terrible headaches and made me sweat like old dynamite. So, I delved into alternative ways of treating the Anemia and I was quite surprised and pleased with a few things that I found.
#1 – Veggie Power!
Based on research, I increased the amount of certain vegetables in my diet. The biggest of which was beets. I bought whole beets from the produce section of my local supermarket. I found an article on how to cook vegetables to retain their nutritional content and for beets it recommended cooking them with skin on until you’re ready to eat it because just underneath the skin is where the highest quantities of nutrients are. In this case it’s folic acid. Folic acid increases production of the vitamin B9 which is essential in making new red blood cells.
#2 – No Scurvy Here!
The next thing I did was to increase my vitamin c consumption. This one is a bit tricky for me because too much vitamin c can irritate the stomach lining, especially citrus fruits. However, if you have Anemia but it’s not caused my a gastric ulcer of some kind, then the sky’s the limit. After finding the right fruits and vegetables that contained vitamin c, I began to incorporate them into my diet. Vitamin c is helpful because it helps your body absorb iron properly.
#3 – The Caffeine Wean
A nutritionist friend of mine inquired of my caffeine intake on a daily basis during my ordeal and while I already knew that caffeine can dehydrate you and irritate the stomach lining, I didn’t know that it could also reduce your ability to absorb iron. Once I learned this, I immediately cut back on all products that had caffeine in them. It really hurt but I cut my coffee consumption in half and cut out soft drinks altogether. I’m no Doctor but I certainly don’t recommend stopping your caffeine consumption cold turkey. This can cause other issues and if you have Anemia, that’s the last thing you need is more issues.
After weaving these new found bits of knowledge into my daily life and getting a better handle on my bleeding ulcer, my Anemia finally faded away. Since my ulcer is probably not going to be departing permanently, I still adhere to a diet that helps me process iron and other vitamins and minerals that keep my blood cells healthy. I feel better prepared now, in case the bleeding thorn in my side rears its ugly head once more.