Monday, July 27, 2015

Zeroing in

I saw a hematologist on Friday morning.  He asked hundreds of questions it seemed.  He pored laboriously through my prior labs.  He put me on a table and found every lymph node in my body. I'm still sore from that part of the exam. He even confirmed that I'm developing a right side inguinal hernia, which I had suspected earlier in the year after I felt some mild pain after heavy squatting.  And, he prescribed a lot more tests.  Because I hadn't had any food yet that day, he decided to add an iron absorption test, which requires that the patient be fasting.

Basically, they measured my iron by taking blood.  They then had be drink a large quantity of iron in a liquid form, and come back two hours later to see how well my gut was absorbing the iron.  This was apparently the only test result that came back on Friday and I got a long phone message from the doctor.

He told me that my starting iron level should have been 35-100 or so (I think this is micro-grams per deciliter, but the units are kind of irrelevant here).  But, my starting level was 16.  So, despite an iron storage protein level indicating that I am storing plenty of iron, my blood is clearly low in iron.

He also told me that he expected the big dose of iron to push my level to the 100-150 range.  Instead, it went to 18 - barely budging.

This means that something is going on in my small intestine, preventing me from absorbing dietary iron.

So, I have to go to the clinic this week and get an intravenous iron infusion.  And, I'll get more results today.

Based on what I've read and one of the tests the doctor performed on Friday, I'm guessing that we will find that the cause of the anemia is that I've developed celiac disease, which seems to be a common reason for this problem.

If that is the case, I have to start imagining a life without pizza, bread, and beer and a whole lot of other things that are quite tasty (cookies, for example).

But, I'm getting ahead of myself here, and I need to let the doctor do his work.  I am very happy about the iron infusion.  It will be nice to finally receive some treatment rather than just tests.

I've obviously stopped taking the iron pills, since my body clearly cannot absorb it anyway.


Harriet said...

Yes, my wife has celiac disease and when she changed her diet, her energy skyrocketed from where it was.

I know of a 4:40 marathon walker who has celiac.

Damon said...

If that is the final diagnosis, I'll be a little sad, but I can live with it. And, I can adhere to the diet. The statistics on how many celiacs fail to stay away from gluten are pretty amazing. It's like having a low level fire burning in your body all the time if you don't stay away from the gluten.

Right now, I just want to feel better and I want to train, and I'll do what I need to do. But, even if I stopped gluten today (assuming it is celiac), it would be many months before my small intestine would heal and properly absorb iron again. So, I'm counting on the iron infusion(s) to get my energy back initially.