The last several days have been less than ideal for me. I went into the hospital the mornings of Thursday and Friday for iron infusions. I was nervous about side effects but really excited about the prospect of soon having more energy. It was expected that iron followed by another medicine would boost my hemoglobin and increase my energy – a very welcome change.
Thursday morning was fine. I was really nervous, but the whole visit was completely uneventful. The nurse found my vein with no problem and had the iron solution flowing within an hour of my arrival. I left feeling fine and went into work for the afternoon.
Over my nerves, I waltzed in on Friday morning thinking more about my impending business trip than any potential problems with the infusion. About 75% of the way through, I became nauseated and developed red splotches on my face. The nausea increased quickly, as did my heart rate, and the splotches made their way down my neck. The nurse stopped the iron immediately, hung a bag of Benadryl and called my cardiologist. I’ll skip the rest of the details, but after the Benadryl, a bag of nausea medicine, lots of IV fluids and an hour or two of drifting in and out of sleep, I felt a lot better. Today, I’m relieved to be feeling normal again – at least as normal as I felt before Friday.
Since we’d identified the driver of my fatigue, I allowed myself to skip out on exercise over the past week or so. It was just a convenient excuse for a break, since my anemia had been present for months. I realized this weekend there is no excuse for not being physically active. Doing some sit-ups and my wannabe push-ups is better than lying on the couch. Going for a long walk is better than standing still. It bothers me to exercise without giving 100%, but I’m trying to embrace the notion of more frequent work-outs at 50%.
With this new outlook, I joined the American Heart Association’s BetterU program today. It’s the first day of spring and I’m springing into a Better Me (hemoglobin be darned)! I signed up at www.goredforwomen.org/betteru and I really hope you’ll join me. BetterU is a free 12-week program designed to help ANYONE ANYWHERE decrease his or her risk of heart disease. If I can do it post-transplant and with sub-par hemoglobin levels, I’m sure you can do it too!
Sign up by March 26th (and be sure to let me know by email – firstname.lastname@example.org) and you could win a great prize from the American Heart Association! And to help maintain your commitment throughout the 12 weeks, we’ll have more contests along the way!
The program encourages goal-setting and small changes that can be sustained in the long-term. My goal for the first week is to find one block of inactivity (between 10 and 30 minutes) each day and turn it into physically active time. Even ten minutes of extra activity each week adds up to over an hour of exercise I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten!
Even if you already exercise regularly and follow a perfectly healthy diet, this program will help you become more aware of the risks and warning signs for heart disease. So even if your risk is already low, I feel sure you can learn a thing or two through the BetterU program. Please join me today!