Unfortunately, this happens all too often. Someone is sick , but not sick enough for the medical professional to do something about it. Well, that is happening to me right now.
I had blood work done a few weeks ago, Hematology and Chemistry, after discussing my issues and symptoms with my family physician. Thanks to technology, I was able to get my results online 24 hours later. I couldn’t believe how fast that was.
At the end of my appointment, a few weeks ago, my Doctor said that if there were issues with my blood work, she would call to set up an appointment to discuss further. If the blood work turned out ok, I didn’t need another appointment.
Unfortunately all my results were within the parameters given on the results sheets. There are a few key values that are on the edges of the parameters, but they are still all within the range set by the lab company. So, what does that mean for me? It means that I have to get sicker, before anything gets done. I am not sick enough to get a second appointment with my family physician to review the results.
WHAT? The reason why I booked an appointment with my Doctor is because my issues, that I have had for a while now, have gotten unmanageable. I’ve tried to manage them on my own. The things that I was doing are no longer working. It’s gotten worse since starting my Ironman training. I have created a spreadsheet with my symptoms and other key values, which she ( my family physician) didn’t want to take a look at. With my brain fog and difficulty concentrating because of the headache I have had for he last 6 weeks, I’m having a hard time articulating how I am feeling. That’s why I created the spreadsheet. I wanted to see if It there was a pattern. Something that I can change. However, I didn’t feel like I was heard. It felt like my two biggest issues, which I believe they are related, were dismissed.
What do you do in that situation? It’s hard, what CAN you do! Because of another interaction with the same physician a few years ago, most people ( my closest friends who tell me if I am out of line) are telling me to get a new family Doc. However, that is hard to do. Where I live, if you have a Doc, you can’t get on the waiting list for another without giving up your Doc first. Then, it may take years to get a new one.
I decided I would take another approach. I scheduled an appointment with my naturopath. You see, just because I am not sick enough, doesn’t mean that I am well. I wan’t to get better. I want to feel great and be able to train again and have the ability to recover after workouts. Right now , I can’t do that. I m having a hard time just functioning though daily life.
Since I love learning and investigating, I set out on a mission to get some answers.
Now let’s take a look at Ferritin, one of the lab values that was tested with the blood work.
“A ferritin test is a laboratory blood test that measures the amount of ferritin in a person’s blood stream. Ferritin is the major iron storage protein in the body, so the ferritin test is ordered as an indirect way to measure the iron stores in the body.” according to emedicinehealth.comhttps://www.emedicinehealth.com/ferritin_test/article_em.htm
According to my lab sheet, the reference range is between 5-272 ug/L. But is that the optimal level for a long distance athlete? NO, it isn’t.
In the article, Iron Level Upkeep for Runners by PodiumRunner wrote :
To put it bluntly, an athlete running with a 12 ng/ml ferritin level will be feeling the effects of anemia and their training will be suffering. Runners need to be much higher on that scale.
Well, I am below 12. Yupe, that’s right. My ferritin level is below 12. No wonder that when I started this Journey to Ironman training cycle, I wasn’t able to do it. It wasn’t my mind that was preventing me for getting the workouts done. It was my low ferritin levels.
Before this happened, I thought that with low iron, I just thought you would see it. Face is pale and you would feel more tired than usual. But I was shocked to see some of the other symptoms on the list.
Dr Westin Childs has a list of 6 symptoms of low Ferritin. Now look at number 4, “inability to tolerate exercise”. WOW. No wonder I was having a hard time getting all of my workouts in.
If you read the post from Dr Westin Childs, 7 Reasons to Treat Low Ferritin Levels, he stated that while the lower reference range is 12 ug/L, 30-40 is the optimal range. Some naturopaths recommend to be around 70 ug/L.
This takes me back to my appointment with my naturopath. I booked an online appointment, sent my symptoms tracker spreadsheet as well as my lab results from this time and the time before that, which was 2 years earlier. We met online, discussed my issues, she clarified some of the things I had on the list. She recommended some supplements which I ordered and I am now taking. I felt heard. It also helps that my Naturopathic doctor is also a long distance triathlete. She gets it. She gets me.
I will be meeting with her again next week for a check up, to see how things are progressing and we will go from there.
Let’s clear something up. I am in no way bashing my family doc. She is a great physician. She is a one of my closest friends doctor and is fabulous with her. Just not great for me. Our personalities clash. She is not a long distance athlete and does’t “get me”, and that is ok. In the end, I must do what is best for me. I will seek answers and keep searching, keep asking questions.
This will be an ongoing series of my Journey to Optimal Health, on the way to my Journey to ironman.