Not Really That Well. Thankyou For Asking..

This is the face of not-a-happy-blogger. You know how we all tell ourselves little stories about the person that we are? Well, my story includes me as a healthy person. I am the person who never gets sick, has no diseases or allergies, and can tick all the NO boxes on health forms without even reading them. I eat well. I, erm, occasionally go for a walk. All my family seem to live until they are ninety. So when I got sick eight weeks ago, and didn't get better I was perplexed, annoyed, and then finally outraged.

I have a lovely doctor. I go to visit her every couple of years for girlie checkups, we chat about art, and renovating and then she tells me that I am still perfectly healthy, and I smile smugly.

I have visited her more times in the last eight weeks than in the last decade. Continuous flu type symptoms, nana naps, and with a side order of raging candida albicans, thankyou very much. I am not someone who has ever embraced the taking antibiotics or any other prescribed drugs for me or the children without a prolonged discussion with my doctor about what other avenues we could pursue first. But over the last eight weeks I've been saying, ooh, yes please, to everything offered, and asking if there is anything stronger?

Nothing made a difference, drugs or diet, and in the end my Very Nice Doctor sent me off to have blood tests for an enormous long list of every disease or condition she could think of. And rang me that same afternoon to tell me I was severely anaemic and needed to book in for a iron infusion immediately because I had almost no iron stored or in my blood, and gosh, how is it that you are you still standing up? So yesterday I spent three hours sitting on a recliner chair at the hospital, having an intravenous infusion of a year's worth of iron. The Man was hoping that magnets would then stick to me, but sadly, no.

So that should stop me feeling like I am dying every time I climb the stairs or a slight incline, stop the nana naps, and kick my immune system into gear so I don't feel like a dying swan anymore. But now the tests begin, to find out why I have no iron. It's not diet - The Man has perfect iron levels, and we eat the same things. So either I am losing blood internally somewhere (oh my goodness, the scary list of diseases and conditions that can cause that), or not absorbing iron due to intestinal damage (also a horror list). The blood tests showed it wasn't coeliacs, which is often diagnosed from low iron levels, because the damage it causes to your intestines stops iron absorption. So that result is good and bad, because Let Them Eat Cake is one of the Ten Commandments, right? And I have just worked out how to make perfect bread, so that would have been a bummer. But on the other hand, I could just have taken a gluten-free baking course, and never had to go back to a doctor again. Which would have been brilliant. Because it turns out that the next round of tests involves words that end with 'oscopy' and 'scope'. Bleuggh.

So here I am, former healthy person, doing rounds of tests that only sick people need. Bugger. Worse, I get to imagine all the terrible things that could be wrong with me until my tests at the end of the month. I am thinking that it will be stress induced stomach ulcers in addition to whatever the underlying cause is.

And one more thing. As I sat in the Transfusion Unit in the hospital yesterday, surrounded by other people who were very ill indeed, having drugs pumped into them to keep them alive, I made a resolution. Whatever is wrong with me, it is unlikely to kill me (despite those 3am wakeful worry sessions), and I want to get healthy again and stay healthy, and I will be working much harder in the future to be fit, to be well nourished, to keep my family healthy, so none of us have to end up in one of those blue chairs.


Anonymous said…
Oh poor you, Jo.

As a very healthy hypochondriac, can I say Dr Google is very useful for finding all manner of illness.

I too suffered very low iron levels. Not as low as you. I was only threatened with infusions, if I didn't take iron tablets orally. I had tests, including for losing blood intestinally. (Oh no, bowel cancer.) Nope, just a very heavy bloody mess once a month. Too much info I know, but I am of peasant stock and might be half cow.

Good luck.

(Oh, and your photos is beautiful. Correction, you are beautiful.)
Anonymous said…
And I invite you to join me on my journey to healthy and gorgeous life. Health being such a possibly transient thing. Especially as we age.

My mother shares all manner of ills. Won't share my response just yet, trying to be a sympathetic person and all.

See? I am nodding sympathetically and with empathetic concern. (Well, trying to, me being Captain Compassion.)
Jo said…
Ha, Lucinda, Healthy hypochondriac sums me up beautifully. So every time I consult Dr Google I convince myself I am dying, so don't tend to do that. Might if Drs don't come up with any answers.
And, no, not TMI, all possibilities gratefully considered, but that was the doctor's second question after diet. I am very thankful to say that every reproductive function has always performed to text book clock-work regularity and restraint. Clearly, reading the family medical book as a child had an effect. Even my labours all went for the regulation eight hours. The power of the written word!
Tanya Murray said…
I'm wondering about your Vit B12. Given the candida I think it sounds like gut malabsorption rather than sinister my humble quackery opinion...Get well soon
Jo said…
And look, now our comments are crossing, but thankyou, Captain Compassion! And I know I can't always control my health and that of those around me. I'd like to control everything of course, wouldn't that be splendid? And the world would be so much better if everyone did what I wanted them to..
And that is partly why I rage of course - the first sign that I am not young and invulnerable any more - a mystery illness. I really hate surprises.
Definitely will join you on that journey to the gorgeous life. I keep meaning to do those exercises you posted....
Jo said…
Hi Tanya, thanks for that, I'm writing a list to take with me next time I see my doctor. Her approach is to eliminate all sinister possibilities (hopefully) from most to least likely, and then investigate other possibilities. At least then I will definitely know there is a long list of diseases I don't have.. (again, fingers crossed!)
Heather said…
Oh, I am so sorry you are going through this, Jo. I hope they find answers for you quickly. There is nothing worse than feeling ill. When we feel good we totally take it for granted because it feels normal and SHOULD be normal. I am not enjoying the natural decay of my body as I get older. Hopefully whatever is happening to you can be reversed and you will be feeling better in no time. Keep up the positive thoughts!
Judy said…
Hi Jo, I hope you feel better soon. Thanks for keeping up the blog despite feeling crap. Its nice to hear from you, and I feel like I should pop round with a homemade dinner, so you can put your feet up. Empty offer I'm afraid :(

I'm grateful that you have had such a healthy life and it means that your body is in good shape to cope with this blip. These things are sent to test us, and you will see how much your family love you and pull together for you. Try to forget all the things that you think you should be doing and give yourself some space to relax and recover. I hate being ill and find it really hard to give in to it, so I really sympathise with you. Hope you get some good results soon.
Jo said…
Thanks Heather, I know you are going through the same process, and it's such a drag not knowing, isn't it?
And Judy, such a kind offer! I know I have good, kind friends here on this blog who would be round with chicken soup in a flash if you could, and I'd be there for all of you too - but the thought really does count, doesn't it? I take a lot heart knowing that.
And I'll tell you a secret - I haven't cooked for days because I have a kind husband and clever children who can all find their way around a kitchen and cook a decent dinner...
Bless you- I really hope that this is over soon and you are restored to full health- pamper yourself a bit xxx
Oh wow that sounds scary and nasty - especially seeing as you seem so healthy usually. I mean, I'm always about to die of something exotic, and just must consider a greater usage of sick days... Three hours of transfusion, that is incredibly long - I spend 1.5 hours giving plasma (so they can give me back the red stuff, cause I suffer the not enough red stuff problems despite nice short girl times...) Anyhow, I hope it's nothing scary, and I hope your awesome bread recipe isn't shelved as a result :(
Oh dear, I hope you get some answers to your health issue soon and that the strengthening medicine helps you feel better whilst you are waiting. Waiting's just the worst. I went straight where everyone else has been with this, to the gynae department, but was sure your Dr would have gone straight there too, and so she did. Sending lots of love and virtual iron-filled spinachy meal deliveries, Sarah xx
Jen's Busy Days said…
Jo, your photo certainly has you looking a lot paler than I remember you being. Although have you had a hair colour change? So sorry you haven't been well, hope it is just some minor blip on the radar screen and that you are back to yourself very soon. Sending virtual chicken soup as we ate our real soup last night. :-(

Best wishes
Jen in NSW
Jo said…
Thanks Mrs Frantic, and Sarah, 3 hrs in a recliner reading a novel is not the worst way to spend an afternoon! Sorry to hear you have to keep getting top-ups. Do you know why? I am all about knowing why right now!
Sarah, thanks for the spinach, can feel it doing me good already, and Jen, I have the same hair colour now that I did when I was three. Isn't that a MIRACLE!
Thanks, as always ladies, for loving thoughts and concern. I feel well virtually cared for :)
Jen's Busy Days said…
Well, we didn't get to see each other enough when I lived in Tassie. :-) I keep picturing you as brunette for some reason. lol

Good on you having the same hair colour. I am getting grey hairs and I swing between embracing them and pulling out the ones on my temples that are too "in my face". Aah, vanity!
Jo said…
Darling Jen, I may not have made myself clear there - My hair was blonde when I was three, mousy brown until around 38, then, MIRACLE darling, MIRACLE.. it's blonde again;)
Anonymous said…
Oh, Jo. I understood your miracle. Of should I say I believed, I felt, I lived your miracle. So glad to know such miracles work down south and are not restricted to we city cousins.

Some claim it is science. I subscribe to the miracle explanation. It must be because I have less sun and less salt water exposure than when I was a teenager, but I am blonder. (Also a hundred dollars lighter every 5 weeks or so' but shhh!)

And I only just learnt the difference between blond and blonde. Apropos of nothing. Isn't it amazing you can still learn new grammar and spelling rules and new words all through life?
and i always pictured you as a brunette, weird huh!
onto more serious things ... mystery illnesses suck. i hope you gett o the cause of this (i was going to say "bottom of this" but we don't want to think of things endign with "oscopy"...). i think you are brave to share this with us here, but then it is wonderful to find the support and wisdom of far-flung people.
i hope you find good health without too much trauma and topsy-turvy changes to your lovely lifestyle.
Can I just say it's so nice to see your face? You're just as lovely as I imagined.

No googling symptoms, young lady! I have made myself crazy doing just that. My SIL, the former vegetarian, became severely anemic, which is why now she sometimes eats meat. No major diseases, no life-threatening illnesses, she just need more iron. Please don't torture yourself!

I will send out white light and heat into the universe for you (i.e. pray). I hope this gets cleared up shortly. In the meantime, take care of yourself, nap, and try not to worry too much if at all possible.

Jo said…
Lucinda, so pleased you are a 'true believer'!
Thanks for kind thoughts, e, and Frances, I promise to stay off Dr Google... for now. I love your definition of praying, it's just wonderful. And, thankyou :)
GretchenJoanna said…
I know it's not popular to say this, but trying harder to be healthy only does so much, especially for someone who already is living a pretty healthy lifestyle. You will likely find out what is going on with this ailment, though, and maybe fixing it will be just the thing to help you have another 20-30 years of feeling good - but the slow decline starts when we are not even 30, they say!
I really didn't notice it until about 60, and I'm just glad I don't have young children to run after these days. May God strengthen and heal you real quick!
Jo said…
Hi Gretchen Joanna, I'm hearing you, and I'm not planning to take up marathon running or follow restrictive diets. I'm just thinking of nudging us all towards eating some more vegies, and for me to er, start exercising gently. My grandparents all lived to their late 80s or 90s without, it must be said, brilliant diets or exercise - but they cooked everything they ate, they laughed a lot, and lived quiet, happy lives, a prescription for the good life I am happy to emulate.
We have an adequate public health system in Oz, but slightly older friends advised us to take out private health cover before we turned 35, which according to them is when everything starts falling apart. They were so right!
I too, am very glad not to have to run around after tiny children - but hoping to have a bit of spark left in me to run around after grand children one day..
Anonymous said…
Ok, firstly I will say that I have little to no idea what I'm talking about but my first thought was malabsorbtion too. Leaky gut is a term I've heard.
My seond thought was Nettle infusions. Check out my friend over at who swears by nettle. It's one of those mega vitamin dose herbs that despite being a nasty little plant with a nasty big sting, packs about 100 times more goodness than it does nastiness. You can buy it in bulk from places like and there's another bulk dried herb seller. Then you just soak the stuff in boiling water to make a tea or an infusion (length of soaking time changes). It won't cure your ills but I can nearly guarantee it will help you feel better. It contains iron amongst many other goodies. I add chamomile for calmness, oat straw for more general health improvment qualities and red clover which helps me with my depression. It also still has necter in it I discovered and sweetens the tea considerably.
Good luck with your doctors and tests and I hope they find something that can be fixed with a simple change or a single pill.
Thinking of you.
Jo said…
Hi Jessie, thanks so much for the input - will have nasty tests week after next which will hopefully reveal if leaky gut is a problem, and if it is a malabsorption issue will hopefully give some clues as to why. I have heard about the amazing properties of nettles (sounds nasty, but apple-cheeked cottagers always eat nettle soup in English novels)but I figure there's no point trying to increase my iron intake right now if I'm not absorbing any of it. That would be a dreadful waste of nettles! (OK, so clearly I am going to have to work up to the idea of nettles...)
I must say that since the iron infusion last week I am beginning to feel marvellous... iron is a wonderful thing!
Anonymous said…
I take a month off to finish a particularly hard study unit and everything goes to hell in a handbasket! Hopefully this comment finds you at leats enlightened about your problem Jo... might be time to start using kefir to help if it is a leaky gut. I have spare grains if you want some, let me know.
Anonymous said…
Eughk. I'm so sorry Jo. Glad the Iron helped but frustrating that you've no answers yet. My big sis has low iron with no diagnosis and it really affects her. She doesn't live in the UK and her drs don't approve of things like transfusions When she tells me her Hb levels it terrifies me. If she was one of my patients I wouldn't be allowed to get her out of bed yet she's wondering round teaching classfulls of children and running a household... usually feeling shitty.

Good luck with a diagnosis. I'm sure you've heard it all before but just in case, golden rule for any anemia - no tea around meals. The tannin blocks iron from being absorbed. Conversely Oranges/vitamin C help absorption. Whoop to orange juice. I'm guessing your GP has ruled out Vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia? That blocks absorption from the diet

So sorry if you've heard that all before you've obviously had heaps of advice with no success. Fingers crossed for your 'oscopy's etc.
Thinking of you
Jo said…
Hi Libi, all clear from the 'oscopies', Next I get to swallow a camera to see the bits that the 'oscopies' miss. It's all fun being me!
I did know that about tea, but I often ignore it. Will be more vigilant in the future. Thanks for the reminder! GP thinks it's probably something systemic, as difficult to get iron levels this low with a reasonable diet like I have. Even with tea. But every little bit helps, so I will try to be good. Sigh. Love tea with breakfast. What if I don't eat iron for breakfast?
Can't believe your poor sister can't get treated for iron deficiency. I feel SO much better for it, it seems unbelievable that I was still standing beforehand...
Jo said…
PS, Apparently the size of my red blood cells precludes Vt B12 deficiency, but I'm being tested for it anyway, just in case. Thanks for your comments. I trust we'll get to the bottom of this eventually...

Popular Posts