So it turns out that you actually need iron in your body, whereas I always thought that iron was naturally in your blood – one of those minerals that you didn’t really have to worry about apart from during pregnancy, because it had no real function like your appendix, and your clitoris, according to the old man. I also thought when you became deficient (AKA anemic), and your gums and your eyelids turned that scary shade of white, a few dead animals in your diet or some iron tablets and associated constipation, would cure it. Who remembers the black stools of pregnancy? Sounds like a horror movie, doesn’t it?
‘The black stools are coming…’ said in Vincent Price voice.
The thing is, I don’t really eat a lot of animals anymore, mainly because my daughter – one of those anal, in-your-face vegetarians who refuses to sit quietly and munch on her Tofu, won’t let me. And as you know, she’s very scary. Added to which, I’m in that stage of perimenopause where each month is like a scene from The Texan Chainsaw Massacre because I’m losing a lot of iron DURING MY PERIOD as well.
In fact, iron has a more serious function that merely being proof of how many kale smoothies you consume to brag about in book club – and as an interesting side note, you’d have to eat a ton of spinach to see any real change to your results – thank fuck!. You see, it actually carries oxygen around the blood which gives you more energy and means you are less listless – something that has been an issue for me for most of my life, and may, in fact, be genetic which is why Kurt’s iron levels will also be checked out asap. In my case, the symptoms only became really noticeable recently when I struggled to lift a wine bottle to my mouth one Friday night.
Anyway, the idea that I might beat that old bitch at the pool who keeps overtaking me in the fast lane was appealing, and as recent research suggests that there is a link between cancer and low oxygen levels, I decided to take my deficiency seriously. So when my doctor mentioned an iron infusion – because my gut struggles to absorb iron in the same way it can alcohol – and I learned that the treatment requires a REAL drip from a REAL nurse that delivers the iron intravenously while you lie in a treatment room and look like there is genuinely something wrong with you – frankly, it sounded too good to be true. Disappointingly, though, you don’t get tea and biscuits afterwards like you do for a blood donation.
The health system is fantastic in Australia because we pay for it and unlike countries like the UK where you have to wait a year for an appointment and only get to see a specialist once you can prove you’ve ordered your coffin, here the GPs are lavish with referrals and scans. They are the Father Christmas’ of the medical world and a veritable lifesaver for those of the hypochondriac persuasion among us.
Even better, there are some minor risks to getting an iron infusion, so when you tell people about it, you can use that low voice that sounds like the treatment is REALLY FUCKING SERIOUS. There’s the possibility of headaches, fever, nausea etc – pretty much a typical Sunday morning hangover – plus an interesting new one where staining of the skin can occur at the injection site. When my doctor described this low-risk side effect, it sounded rather like a free tattoo to me – something that is definitely on my bucket list – so it seemed like a no-brainer.
Evidently, I didn’t do my research properly because I thought I would exit the surgery…I mean, injection, rather like those women in sanitary towel adverts, with enough energy to roller blade around the supermarket, surf in the middle of winter or even cook dinner, but alas, it can take up to two weeks for the effects to kick in. So, two more weeks of bed rest and the excuse to raise barely more than a weak eyelid when the old man suggests cleaning of any description…because deficiencies need to be taken seriously...but I’ll keep you updated. If I manage to knock out more than two blog posts this week, you’ll know I’m in recovery.