Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Wanted: Iron

Sorry for the gap between posts, last week was pretty pants. I must have called SFE about 4 times now and have been told different things each time. One bloke told me I'd put I didn't want to be income assessed - which isn't what the pdf of my original application says, but they are adamant their systems say I only want the minimum non-means tested bit. Despite that, they still say they are waiting for my parents financial information and I will be reassessed when they get that. They've reached my Dad's information now, but they still haven't recalc'd me, and they haven't even given me a maintenance loan, which is the least I should have. One bloke told me I was entitled to full funding, but when he went to check he was told I wasn't because I'm not doing an integrated med course, which would apparently mean I should have stayed at Southampton and 'topped up' my BSc to a MBBS. Seriously? And this was his supervisor telling him that's how you get a med degree.
A student at HYMS has produced a report analysing the T+C's of the student finance system, and it turns out because a med degree is technically a Masters and so a higher level than a BSc, we should get full funding including the fee loan. This has been independently assessed and verified as correct by the Business, Innovation and Skills department. Whenever this student rings up he seems to be being told they are rolling the new rule interpretations out immediately, but whenever anyone else rings up they get told its maintenance loan only. I rang Peninsula fees and finance department to see if they'd right me a letter confirming they were a level 7 course, which the medical schools council says they are. They didn't realise they were and have to ask the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth if they can up their status. So now I don't know if they are expecting me to pay fees, or if they are taking it in faith that SFE will be paying. I have sent a letter to SFE confirming I want to be means tested, Mum is a housewife, and here's a report confirming I should get funding, and so now I'm just waiting and watching the Matures student's finance thread on NMM for updates from the HYMS student.
On top of all that I found out my anaemia is back. Now I say back, I'm not really sure I ever got over it, but I def felt much better than this. I'm borderline microcytic anaemic with practically no ferritin. To cope with the lack of iron my body has overproduced tiny red blood cells, so I'm just on the lower limit of normal, but normal has a really wide range at 60-170 mcg/dL, so it's still not good to be so low. The biggest problem is my ferritin which is what your body stores excess iron as, is 3 (normal 12-300ng/mL). Your body is very good at recycling iron, so it should be a pretty closed system - cell dies, iron is stored, new cell is made from stored iron, but with no stores I can't make effective new cells - I make tiny ineffective ones.
This means my life at the moment is quite a struggle. At uni my housemate had a version (low RBC, normal ferritin), but it didn't seem to affect her in the slightest, she was still up early every morning, bright and peppy and gyming everyday. I don't seem to sit well with anaemia. When I wake up in the morning all I want to do is curl up and sleep more, no matter how early I went to bed, it's like a piece of elastic keeping me in bed. I trudge round the house in morning and as I'm climbing the five flights of stairs to get to work I can feel my legs getting heavier and heavier to the extent I feel I won't make the last flight - not that I need to sit and rest, that I want to curl up and sleep. A flight of stairs being 11 steps. Pitiful really. I am a fit athlete, I row, I'm young, I'm strong, I should not be being defeated by a set of stairs. When I look in the mirror I'm pale so I use blusher and a pale bronzer and try and get a bit of colour in me. My arm's are nice and brown from rowing, but my palms and face are pasty pasty. I have an aunt who's always telling me how pale I'm looking and I should get some more sun, so I'm a sucker for all those radiance moisturisers to try and hide it. I was teased while coxing the other day because I kept using the wrong calls - saying bow side when I meant stroke, and having to quickly correct myself. Or when I'm trying to do a process at work that I've done many times before, I get stuck thinking what to do next. I know what I want to say or do, but my head is fuzzy, like there's cotton wool in it, and the word or action I need eludes me so I say something close and hope that prompts me into remembering what it is I want to say, or sit and stare at the options and hope it comes back to me what to do next. When I came back home I didn't tell anyone I was ill. My close family know, and mr, and my Dr, but that's it. So my crew just think I'm being ditzy, or a sleepy teenager who's up too early. I take lucozade with me to rowing and I eat biscuits before I go, so I can row just fine, but I can't survive on biscuits and lucozade.
I'm annoyed really, because I can't see where my iron goes. I swapped to an iron fortified cereal, I love my steamed green veg, I eat rare steaks, I have steamed spinach every week, I take the pill with no breaks which will apparently mess with my fertility but my Dr suggested it to help get me strong before starting uni again. I just don't know what else to do. I'm back to taking iron tablets, with orange juice because the vit C helps iron take up, once in the morning and once at night, making sure it's one hour before or two hours after food or dairy so nothing can tamper with the iron uptake mechanism. It's frustrating beyond belief. I want to be better, but I've totally run out of ideas.


Lily said...

Can your doctor prescribe you very strong iron tablets? I know when my friend's anaemia gets bad she takes 4-6 prescription strength iron tablets a day.

Bad side to this is constipation though.

ilovehotchocolate said...

Ah yes, I am indeed a member of the black poop club :) Such an honour, :p
Possibly, I'm going to leave it a few days and see if it settles out and then try going back to my Dr. Just this is the first time since I started being aneamic that taking my iron tablets actually made me feel worse. I know it takes a while to kick in so I'll leave it and see. I have to be better by September to start uni, and that's my GP's priority too, so it's nice we're on the same page.