Wednesday, July 28, 2010


A couple of months ago, when things were tight and I was not at all flush, I signed up for an emailing of clinical trials. I know it is not the noblest of professions, but I only responded to the ones which did not actually require you to take undocumented, untested medication. In any case, one came up and I went in for a routine blood test. They were doing phoresis, which is a process in which they take blood from one side of the body, remove the white blood cells and return in to the other side of the body. The entire process takes about two hours and by the time you are finished, your body has regenerated about 90% of what was taken out. How cool is that?

Anyway, I came in for my routine health screening and blood test. Took about an hour and they said they’d call me with the results. A couple days later, they called and said that I hadn’t cleared the study. Now I had told them when I went in that I had just finished with my monthly visitor so I was worried that might affect the results. Sorry to over share, but what the heck, it’s my blog! Anyway, they invited me to come back in for another go ‘round which I did at a more conducive time.

Two days passed and I got a call from the nurse who had been working with me. It seems my results had come back lower than before. “Should I be worried?” “Probably not,” was the answer but she would actually like me to follow up with my family doctor. Wow, this was a surprising turn of events. I also was in a bind because I didn’t have a family doctor anymore. Mine had retired and I had never found a suitable replacement.

So I went to the clinic and underwent a series of invasive and humbling tests and retests. Yes, I was Anemic. Officially. And somewhat significantly. Our next task was to find the root cause. “Have you been losing weight?”

“Well, yes, but it’s been intentional.”

“Then it must be your diet is off. Have you experienced any fatigue or exhaustion?”

“Well, maybe but I’ve been under a lot of pressure and I lost my Mom last year…”

“Then you must not be getting enough rest.”

So I left the clinic somewhat bewildered with a prescription for iron pills and feeling a little beaten up. How is it everything was my fault?

But something still bothered me. The diet thing. Now I am a somewhat vegetarian. I eat limited meat and no red meat, but as an athletic person who does not eat red meat, I am VERY careful about what I do eat and I just didn’t think I could have made such a mistake. So I started doing a bit of research on the internet-something I never do and do not recommend because self-diagnosis from the internet just leads to madness. But I did it anyway. And I made an interesting discovery. There are two common forms of Anemia: iron-deficient Anemia and less common but still prevalent, B-12 deficient Anemia. I looked at the symptoms of B-12 deficient Anemia: Weakness. Check! Fatigue. Check! Lightheadedness. Yup! A pale appearance. Always! Loss of appetite with weight loss, rapid heartbeat or chest pain, shortness of breath upon exertion. Check, check and double check, and all these things I had been told were due to stress, age and mourning. It’s funny because I had been feeling tired lately and everyone just kept saying that it was stress. And I had been feeling run down and headachy and everyone just said it was age. But no one considered there might actually be something wrong with me. And I had never considered the possibility that I could feel better. I just accepted this is how I shall feel now that I am getting older.

Here’s the interesting thing about B-12 deficient Anemia; everything else can be fine; you can be getting all the nutrients you need, you can load yourself up with iron, but without that one key ingredient, your body can’t process it.
It is not unlike our relationships. You get complacent and you just accept that things are the way they are. You don’t ask if it could feel better. And even though you started out with all the nutrients of a healthy partnership, if you are short one key ingredient, nothing else works. It doesn’t matter if you have passion and love and compassion and history if you are missing something essential. And I’m sure the essential ingredient is different for everyone; maybe it is trust or fidelity or humor or empathy. But if it is not there and that deficit goes unnoticed and unrecognized, nothing else will work, even when you give off the appearance of perfect health.

Perhaps it is time to give our lovers a metaphorical shot in the arm, but first we better figure out what they and we are missing. Don’t accept a first diagnosis, dig a little deeper and find the root cause. We must be our own advocates in love, as in life!

And maybe for we single married girls, we need to acknowledge that the essential ingredient might just be us. The whole us, not just the pieces we’ve cobbled together but one whole and complete person who doesn’t need a better half, just an equal; just a catalyst to process all those essential ingredients that are already there. To feel better, to ask for more, to realize that feeling bad isn’t the natural aging process.

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