Living with Severe Fibroids

Illustration of Donated Blood in a Medical Setting.
  • If you take iron pills with your morning coffee, they will have no effect. As difficult as it was to wait an hour before having my first caffeine infusion of the day, the difference was night and day.
  • If you eat a vegan diet, make sure you’re taking Vitamin C when you eat iron-rich foods. Ditto for the actual supplements. Tofu, chickpeas, red beans, and greens are all great sources of iron, but the body needs Vitamin C to fully metabolize these.
  • Anemia does more than make you tired. It can cause bruising, scabbing, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, and hair loss. I experienced all of these over a matter of weeks in Spring 2021. It was scary.
  • Just ginger. I’ve tried a bunch of over-the-counter remedies, and ginger pills (1000 mg twice daily) produced the most immediate and striking effects. Clinical research supports these results.
  • Cutting out alcohol seems to help. While I haven’t seen this in the scientific literature, I found that when I avoided alcohol the symptoms of the fibroids were much less. Portland is a beer drinker’s paradise so this was kind of a bummer, but based on my personal experience it had an effect.
  • Not all hormones work the same. Depo Provera was horrible for me. It turned my brain to fog. I was an emotional, mushy-head wreck for the two months that I was taking it. Progestin doesn’t have the same side effects, and I feel like myself while I’m taking it.
  • Ditto for IUD’s. Tried one. Didn’t like it. Won’t be doing that again.
  • Hysterectomy does not mean losing your ovaries. Once upon a time, doctors routinely took out the ovaries of women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s at the same time as they removed the uterus, to remove any possible risk of ovarian cancer. Imagine a telling a man in his 40s you needed to remove both his testicles… “just in case” he later developed testicular cancer! Ummm, I don’t think you would get many takers. Nowadays, unless doctors find evidence of cancer, they typically leave the ovaries intact — a major plus, since the ovaries produce both estrogen and testosterone, which help keep the body feeling young in addition to their role in reproductive health.
  • Anemia interferes with bone formation. Last May I noticed I was getting a pain in one foot whenever I went running. I tried out different shoes and tried to change up my workout schedule. Nothing helped. Over time, the pain increased. After a few months I finally got myself to a foot specialist and got an X-ray. I had a broken bone in my foot! Luckily this healed. Even more telling, when I crashed my bike that fall and sprained both elbows, that X-rays showed no fractures. That spring I had broken a bone in my foot without even noticing it. Four months later — after an impact severe enough to take a chunk out of my iPhone cover — my bones remained intact. I credit taking the steps to combat anemia above with bringing my iron levels back and preventing further injury.

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art|code

art|code

Product Architect at Lotus.fm, a startup dedicated to creating better user experiences for data driven applications.