Iron deficient (not anemic)

For the longest time it felt like I was always tired.  Just pooped.  Not much energy.  I couldn’t even wash all the dishes because standing for that long ended with me resting on the couch.

This lack of energy was so persistent that I had to will myself to get up and keep going in order to live a normal life.  Walking for an hour just exhausted me.  And let alone, running.  With running, I slogged through it, moving as if through quicksand.  And all this time I thought the problem was me.

Turns out I’m iron deficient.  My ferritin level is 14.  And it should be over 45 (for me at least).

What’s crazy is that I’ve been trying to figure out why I seemed to have little to no energy for years now.  After I saw my new doctor (who came along with new health insurance plan), she ran a serum ferritin blood test.  This particular test is not usually part of the CBC (complete blood count) they usually run.  Serum ferritin measures the level of your iron stores, which I interpreted as your endurance.  It explains why I couldn’t make it through the day without taking a nap or bullying myself into “getting out there” and running.

I want other women who are feeling constantly tired to ask their doctors for this serum ferritin test.  The usually requested tests won’t measure your serum ferritin, only hemoglobin and hematocrit.  My understanding is that hemoglobin and hematocrit measure the amount of iron that exists in your blood.  And even those levels can be normal while your iron stores get depleted.  Menstruation, blood donation and being a runner can take a toll on your iron stores.  And even though I eat meat and love a good steak, my ferritin level was low.

The doctor put me on iron supplements, 65 mg twice a day.  It’s only been two weeks, but I’m hoping to see improvement at three weeks.

Good luck out there!  And remember to persist about that awful fatigue!


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