Anemia is a common ailment. Basically, you just need iron to boost your red blood cells. That’s what I thought for many years. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There is an iron-deficiency component. But it’s not as simple as that.
More than anemia itself, I suffered largely from ignorance of this condition. And I’m sure I am not alone. According to WebMD over 400 types of anemia exist. It wouldn’t be until I was into middle age that I would learn exactly what the disorder involves and how in certain instances it can even be life-threatening. Ignorantly, I’d blindly accepted the risks.
We are no longer living in an era where medical practitioners generally don’t give full disclosure to patients who ask. In today’s culture we’ve become advocates for ourselves when it comes to our health and well-being. It’s almost a given that we will also turn to the Web for basic preliminary information prior to doctors’ appointments, and come armed with pertinent questions we expect to be answered.
Informed of Seriousness of Anemia
Before Arturo A. Caesar, M.D., P.C., a specialist in internal medicine, confirmed my diagnosis I had been pretty skeptical of the whole business of blood testing and grown weary of receiving conflicting results. He was the first physician to inform me of the seriousness of anemia.
Previously, I’d mistakenly been informed that I didn’t have anemia and my red blood cells were merely low to normal. No further explanation given. So, of course I remained in the dark thinking, OK. That was it. Apparently, those past medical professionals hadn’t taken into consideration the fact, which I discovered much later on: my blood counts fluctuate. This was the reason for the false-positive reports, as well as my having good days and bad days.
Read: Anemia Myth Busters
Anemia is a Symptom, not the Cause
Oftentimes, I would be exhausted at night to the point of passing out and then have little or no energy in the mornings after more than 10 hours sleep; at times experience chest pain and my feet always feel cold even in warm temperatures.
All of these are symptoms of anemia noted by the American Society of Hematology.org
As to its cause, not only did I not know that anemia was a symptom, I didn’t realize it had a source until Dr. Caesar referred me to the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention in Harlem, NY.
Complete Blood Cell Count Necessary
Comparison of samples from a vitals check performed there with a complete blood cell (CBC) count taken during a subsequent scheduled appointment expedited the biopsy Dr. Caesar suspected was needed to insure I didn’t have a much more dangerous form of blood disease.
In a follow-up visit, Gina Villani, M.D, MPH, the Center’s CEO, director and a hematologist, personally assured me “the next step is to find the root of the anemia.”
Now more knowledgeable and empowered, I understand why repeated blood tests are necessary to obtain accurate determinations and thanks to Dr. Villani, why it is equally important to establish the origin and type of anemia in order to properly treat it.
If left undiagnosed, the symptoms and cause of the anemia may progress or become chronic.
See also by this contributor: Odyssey of an Undiagnosed Diagnosis