Last year when I was diagnosed with lymphoma I was severely anemic, and that continued throughout my chemo, but my oncologist told me to stop taking iron supplements because my body couldn’t use the iron during treatment, and I might build up a toxicity. Anyway, I never resumed supplementing my iron intake after finishing chemo.
What’s more I started working out pretty seriously near the end of August last year, and through to December, with awesome results including having my pelvic x-rays come back showing solid bone in early February. (Last year at this time I was suffering from multiple pathological fractures and x-rays of my pelvis showed the right side looking moth-eaten and completely see through in spots; it never fails to amaze me how incredible the body is at repairing itself if given the chance.) Anyhow, my GP now thinks I should’ve started supplementing my iron back when I started working out in August because exercise can deplete your iron stores, and since mine were already compromised… I’m still depleted and a bit anemic.
Anyway I’ve been supplementing since Feb 19, and I’m just starting to liven up a bit. It is tough trying to put in a good workout with anemia though, because your blood essentially doesn’t have enough oxygen so when you try to up the intensity in your routine (I’m partial to intervals) you just go flat. What’s more you just don’t feel like you have much behind you to put into a workout. More than once I’ve been on the elliptical trainer and just felt like I’m absolutely plodding at a ridiculously slow pace, meanwhile my perceived exertion is greatly exaggerated.
I think I’m turning the corner though. It takes roughly 3 months of supplementation to truly get beyond iron deficiency because that’s how long it takes your body to completely replace the red blood cells in your system, but your energy levels can begin to show signs of improvement in as few as 30 days.
Last Thursday I was feeling good enough to put myself to the test on my elliptical for 60 minutes, and Friday I was able to go for a repeat of Thursday. Today I was able to do 35 minutes of a pretty intense interval workout on the elliptical, so I’m pretty excited to get back into my regular training routine. Hopefully my blood tests near the middle of May will show my iron stores are back to normal.