I’ve been feeling great lately. Borderline spectacular, even. Been going to Grouse Mountain on a regular basis again. Eating right. Going to bed early. Stepping away from the ice cream (my most indulgent indulgence). Blah, blah, blah, etc.
My ferritin level is back up, which makes a pretty dramatic difference in the quality of my days. Low ferritin levels, as I learned last year, are the goddamned worst. Still sucking down the old iron supplements by the handful. (Constipation can be a real danger when taking iron supplements in this quantity, though it hasn’t been for me so far.) (I wish I was a bit constipated sometimes.) Last ferritin test was in the mid 70’s—I should ideally be back in the 150 range—but mid-70’s is worlds away from the 10-15 readings a couple months back. Higher ferritin level means I’ve stopped taking my daily one-hour naps (or sometimes two-hour) in the afternoons. I’m stronger at the gym, too, easily running 5-7 kilometres a day now.
It’s amazing the way that a higher iron level can give you jolt like this, and make you feel entirely whole and human again. I appreciate these higher iron levels now, in a way that I never did before.
And I felt like I was in the clear there for awhile, firmly back on the right track, until earlier this week when the old rug was pulled out from under me again.
Since I got sick in 2014, I have routinely suffered from chronic 48 to 72-hour headaches. I usually get the headaches once every three weeks or so. It’s not “just a headache,” either. It’s feeling depleted, rundown, exhausted on a core level. I can’t get out of bed in the morning when I feel like this. If I make the mistake of lying down on the couch for even a minute, I’ll likely stay there for the rest of the day.
I hadn’t had one of these 48-to-72-hour episodes for awhile, and had assumed that they were somehow connected to my ferritin levels. With the levels being higher, I figured that—fingers crossed—I’d left them behind.
This week, one of those old, ratty headaches settled in again. It felt like an 8-pound shot-put had landed squarely on my forehead. The headache vexed me for two straight days. I still made it to all of my meetings; still delivered most of my deliverables. But I certainly wasn’t at my best while doing those things.
Other symptoms when I feel this way: I feel dehydrated, beyond thirsty, during these stretches, even though I’m drinking (as I always do) vast amounts of water. And I feel foggy-brained, which, I presume, is from the pain. For the record, the pain is usually located on the right side of my forehead.
Reading makes the pain worse. Even watching TV is challenging when I’m feeling this way. I’m bored as hell when I have these headaches. Sometimes I moan, which makes the cats come and lie down on top of me. Which is admittedly very cute.
I always feel completely doomed during these episodes. Always feel like something is still wrong with me, and that these episodes are “The Signs,” and that they should be heeded somehow. Have I told my doctor about them? Of course I’ve told me doctor about them. What do the Canadian doctors say? They say, Eh, sounds relatively normal.
I wonder sometimes if these chronic headaches are a sign of something new manifesting itself in my body. Something even worse than a heart infection….
I had night sweats for two full years before I was admitted to the hospital and, at the 59th minute of the 11th hour, had open-heart surgery to remove an infection that had been growing (and growing) there for the past two years. Up until that moment, doctors had given me the “Eh, sounds relatively normal” response to that one, too.