On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More numbers: low ferritin levels

I struggle with my iron levels, particularly my ferritin. My GP was the first to notice this months ago, and she prescribed Repliva 21/7 for me. I hadn't known anything was wrong, but about a week after I started taking it it was miraculous: I had more energy, I was getting up earlier in the morning, I was happier...

A few months later, they discontinued it.

No matter, as my GP said that my ferritin was fine again. Until... a few weeks after that, when my hematologist said that it most certainly was not. (Low is considered less than 50; mine was around 15.) She said that she had something she liked better than Repliva and set me up with Niferex 150. By then, I realized how worn down I was. When the pharmacy told me that the Niferex was going to cost me about $80 - WITH insurance - I nearly broke down in tears as I handed over my credit card. I wanted to feel lively and less lethargic. The people at my local Duane Reade are very mean.

Then my levels went up, so my hematologist said not to worry about it. Then they went down, and my GP gave me a new prescription for a different, cheaper medication. That prescription was contraindicated for patients on blood thinners (like yours truly), so I was told to take an OTC iron pill. Again - in the pharmacy near tears.

I'm no doctor, so I don't understand how this is different from garden-variety anemia, but I know now that I'm in an up-down cycle of normal-low-normal-low ferritin levels.

Why is this relevant? Well, it affects my running. I know that. I've read about the links between female runners and low ferritin levels. I'm not a high-enough caliber runner to be too badly affected, but you have to wonder.

And yes, I do eat red meat.

1 comment:

  1. Tracy,
    I find this interesting because I started having low iron levels when I started running, too. Mine are around 31-38. I also have some just below normal levels for protein and platelets. I did the OTC iron supplements on my doc's recommendation for 3 months and made sure to account for all of my iron/vit c consumption. I also started to notice that my periods had gotten longer and heavier. After 3 months, there was little change in the numbers (I went from 31-38 in ferratin), so I got an ultrasound and a celiac test. Celiac was negative (it would prevent minerals from being absorbed into the body). Then they found a small fibroid in my uterus that is not in a very troublesome place, but they think it might be causing my period issue (but aren't sure), which would significantly contribute to my low ferritin levels. So, on my next period, I get an IUD to try to stop/slow my periods to see if that makes a difference.

    It's been 5 months of being slow and patient, and I get one good long run in a week and some other short workouts (60 minutes or so) and then I'm spent for the day. I seem to be worse in the afternoons. I work with small children, so I notice that by dinner time, I'm a mess. It's been like this for so long now, I don't remember it being any better.

    I'm registered to run my first half marathon in October, I've been training like I'm going to run one in the spring, just to see if my body would hold out. I have a final training run tomorrow on my day off. I'm doing Jeff Galloway, 10:1. Here's to hoping it turns out okay. :) I average an 11-12 minute/mile pace.

    Keep us informed on how it goes.