I haven't blogged about it before, but my grandmother has been having some trouble lately with her iron levels. The doctors would transfuse her, but within a months time - her levels would be back to alarmingly low levels again. About a week ago - they did a bone marrow biopsy to try to get some real answers about what's going on with her. They found out that her diagnosis is something called Myelodysplasia - it's a mild form of leukemia - where her body makes the iron, but it doesn't get distributed to her cells.
It's basically the same thing as type II diabetes - just with a different outcome - or at least you can make a good analogy with it. When you're diabetic - your body makes the insulin, but it is not absorbed - thus causing there to be too much sugar in the blood. There is an injectable drug (I was on it for a while) that basically forces the pancreas to make the correct amount of insulin, and actually forces the body to use it. Thus helping regulate your sugar levels without having to use synthetic insulin.
ANYWAY - all of that to say that they are putting Meme on bi-weekly injections that will help force her body to use the iron that is made in her own system. We are praying that this works for her, and gives her a better quality of life than she has been living with for the last few months. She's been really run down and anemic - which is not my grandmother's typical lifestyle or personality...
Now, despite the obvious worries that I have for my grandmother and her health - I'm concerned for other reasons as well - mainly if this is a hereditary disease... because I've just gone through surgery that is going to have me extremely susseptable to vitamin defeciencies - with iron being one of the major ones that tends to get low. So should I now be worried that I'm depriving myself of iron through this malabsorptive intestinal system that I've had created for myself... and also that at some point my body is going to stop absorbing what little bit is there?!
Thank goodness I go back to see my doctor next Thursday. Not my surgeon - but my real doctor that is, Dr. Weinstein... the best doctor in the world. His specialty is bariatrics, but he's an internal medicine doctor - so I feel sure that he'll be able to handle this worry and help me figure out a plan. I'm also planning on talking to him about getting a bone density scan as well - at our first support group meeting after my surgery he was the speaker and talked about how important this is for us as WLS patients. It is vitally important for us to track the changes in our bone density every year so that we'll know how we're doing with our calcium. I haven't had this yet - so I'm at least going to ask him what our plan of action is on it for the future.