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Pre-op anemia Pre-op anemia

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Unread 08-14-2002, 02:58 PM
Pre-op anemia

After many many months of reading, agonizing and discussion, I have scheduled a TAH/BSO in October. I am 45, have three children and my husband says: "what's the big deal - just do it." :cry: Little does he know..... Anyway, one thing that convinced me (beside the advice of four physicians) is the degree of anemia I now have. I am on iron 325 mg twice a day and BC pills to prevent period bleeding (although still bleeding ten weeks after a D&C). Any advice from experienced pre- or post- op anemics?
By the way -- since I have worn out my welcome with everyone who knows me about the entire subject of surgery, I am very thankful to have found all of you!
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Unread 08-14-2002, 04:30 PM
Pre-op anemia

I also had chronic anemia due to heavy bleeding. You can supplement your diet by adding mission figs, molasses (up to 2 tablespoons daily) red grapes, dark grape juice and of course red meat, chicken, turkey etc. All of these are high in iron. Unless you have high cholesterol problems, I wouldn't worry about how much meat you eat right now. As my iron levels increased, I found that I crave meat less now. You can always cut back after surgery and when your levels are more normal. Make sure to eat enought fiber to keep your system moving along too! You will need the protein so your body can make new blood cells and heal you after surgery. When you are anemic for a long time, your body makes smaller red blood cells (I found this to be an amazing fact!) It will take your body 6 months to replace all your too little red blood cells once you are NOT anemic anymore. So don't over do it, your body is not getting the oxygen it needs cuz your red blood cells can't carry enough around your body.

Gelatin also helps build the blood. I make an awful sounding hot drink conconction of 1 package of gelatin dissoved in 1 cup hot water from the coffee maker, 1 tablespoon of molasses and 1/2 cup of Welchs grape juice. Tastes better than it sounds!! I found I actually started craving it and was drinking it twice a day for awhile. Now that my iron levels are more normal, I only drink it a couple of times a week. You could just drink "hot" jello, gelatin and grape juice and that would help. If you like oatmeal, you can put the molasses on it! You can drink 2 packages of gelatin a day with no problem.

Coffee, regular tea (hot and iced) and carbonated sodas all inhibit iron absorption, so you would want to try and cut these out. I am a caffeine addict, so I know how hard it is to cut them out of your diet! If you crave them like I do, separate when you drink them from when you eat the iron rich foods and take the iron supplements. Fiber and dairy/milk products also inhibit iron absorption. Best thing is to take it 1-2 hours before meals if you can work that out.

Taking 250 to 500 mg of Vitamin C with each iron tablet will help the absorption of the iron. Ester C is non acidic, easier on the stomach lining and some tests say it is more absorbable by the body than ascorbic acid. This is what I use. My GYN is adament about taking Vit C with my iron supplements and has his nurses ask you it every time you talk with them.

I am 48 and dealt with all the health problems for too long (4 years). I was misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, no one listened to me about my heavy bleeding. Turns out I had chronic anemia, an 8 cm fibroid and my uterus was 4 1/2 times normal when they weighed it after surgery!! I was on BC pills for no periods before surgery and still bled through almost every day after my D&C and failed ablation.

I am 2 weeks and 2 days a princess and I cannot believe how much better I feel. The constant low level pain and cramping -gone. Bladder pressure and spasms-gone. Low backache-gone. Pain in my right hip-gone. Bleeding-gone. Now I do feel like a kangaroo used my stomach for a trampoline and I keep my pain meds handy, but I feel more like myself than I have in a long time.

Sorry this got so long, but hope it helps! I am a research nut, so all this is gleaned from docs and nutritionists and my own readings. My iron levels were normal by surgery. I have a list of more iron rich foods somewhere, let me know if you want me to look at it and see what else is on it!

Good Luck!
Unread 08-14-2002, 06:53 PM

I was an anemic for more years than I can remember. This past year has been marvelous for me. July 24, 2001 was the beginning of my life without having to worry about taking extra iron. I must admit that after the big hyster so much of my life has changed for the better. No more anemia has been a true blessing.

I found that after my hyster feeling good and strong was something new. I realize how foolish I was putting off the surgery for 5 years.

The advise I give everyone who is anemic is go for the surgery and begin your new life of feeling good.


July 24, 2001 TAH/BSO 7 large fibroids and ovarian cysts
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Unread 08-14-2002, 07:11 PM
Pre-op anemia

I just got off the phone with my doctor who was amazed that my hematocrit went from 21% to 36% (almost normal!) in three weeks. I told her my secret and I'll tell you (though the advice in the post above is very good too)!


You can buy it at the health food store -- about $5-$10 for 16 oz. I drink two ounces of chloraphyll mixed with about four ounces of orange juice every morning. Just be careful, because it's really green and will stain things like clothing, plastic cups, counter tops, etc.

It's been a lifesaver for me, since I'm a vegetarian and didn't want to have to start eating meat again to deal with this anemia. I actually tried eating liver (which is a great source of iron), but I had a terrible reaction and had to stop.

Aside from that, I've been eating tons of spinach and Cream of Wheat (also high in iron).

Good luck!
Unread 08-14-2002, 07:37 PM

Hi Linsue!

Gallopade has given you some great advice. I was given much of this same information from the director of our local blood bank one month before my surgery.

On the matter of tea and coffee, she told me that tea decreases iron absorption as much as 60% and coffee decreases it about 30%. Sodas decrease it some, but not nearly as much as these. It doesn't matter if the tea is hot or cold either.

I gave up coffee and tea at that point, which was really hard for me. I love coffee!!! I have been strictly on bottled water and cranberry juice since then.

You might want to check with someone at your local blood bank, as I found them to be a wonderful resource on this issue.

Big to you!
Unread 08-14-2002, 07:40 PM

Hi, Linsue,

I just had to take a minute here to write to you because I could hardly believe what I was reading when I saw your post!
I am Lynn Sue, also live in Ohio, have 3 children, and am 45 yrs. old. I had my hysterectomy tah/bso on May 23 because of fibroids which were causing me to have lengthy periods. Fortunately, I never became anemic, but I understand the frustration surrounding this decision and the yearning for freedom from the bleeding. I watched my mother do this very same thing for several years until she was so drained that she was too weak to have the surgery and had to be given blood several times. I do not have any magical answers for you, but I can say that I am now 12 weeks post and am so happy to have this new opportunity to enjoy life. This is a major surgery and I think you are right in taking your time to consider your options. It is an anxious time being pre and waiting for that big day to eventually come, I understand!!!! I had a little over a month to wait for mine and I nearly drove myself and everyone else around me nuts, so again I understand!!!! I even told the ladies at the check out counter at the grocery and just about anyone who would listen. I built the surgery up so big in my mind and if this helps I can now tell you that my imagination made it seem much worse than it actually was. I woke up from surgery in moderate pain, but inside I felt like celebrating and overall the experience was very do-able. During my initial post weeks I was frustrated with boredom, a little emotionally rocky, impatient and wanting to heal quickly, but I used this site and the dear ladies here for support. Day by day, week by week, here on my laptop I got many words of encouragement from my hystersis's and sure enough the weeks passed by and I got stronger, happier, and energetic. Also, I made some wonderful friendships! I have no regrets, Lin. In fact, for me it was the beginning of a whole new life. I would hope the same for you. It is a big decision and it is a personal one, so keep reading and please join us in the chatroom anytime, we would love to have you! Good luck, sweetie.
You are also welcome to email or private message me anytime if you have any questions.

Warm Wishes,
Lynn/ Cappy in chat
Unread 08-14-2002, 08:37 PM
Pre-op anemia

Two years ago my hemoglobin dropped to 6.5. My body had adjusted to that level and I had adjusted my life without realizing it. For example, avoiding stairs, going to bed real early. taking naps whenever possible. etc. I didn't know I was so low until a routine physical when the Dr. drew a hemoglobin and was shocked that I was functioning at all.
The very best thing for raising my level was to stop the horrendous monthly bleeding, but we tried some other things first that helped somewhat.
Malt-o Meal with a glass of orange juice every morning is fabulous. A prescription iron supplement called Chromagen is excellent. I viewed eating red meat(lean) as medicinal for me. I began to feel better. When I was started on Lupron 6 months ago, my hemoglobin was at about an 8. Now, post Lupron, post LAVH with BSO 2 1/2 wks. ago, my hemoglobin is nearly 12 and I have so much more energy. I can even deal with the post surgical stuff because I don't have that core physical exhaustion.
Good Luck!!
Unread 08-15-2002, 06:55 AM
Pre-op anemia

Thank you, thank you everyone! I am running (well not running) out to the store right now. I feel better just knowing others have been there and are now better. Other women I know who have had a hyst tell me it was the best thing they did. I hope I say the same in six months or a year! I'll be back to chat soon.
Unread 08-16-2002, 06:23 AM
Pre-op anemia

You sound like me! Mine was at 6.4 and I had no idea! I just kept going, doing everything I normally do, taking the kids here and there, etc. When the bleeding landed me in the ER one night and they did a blood test, the doctor there couldn't believe I was functioning either! I'll never forget his words, "Hematologically speaking, you are only half the person you should be." Looking back, the only sign I had was that I got very winded doing stairs, and that I craved ice! The ice thing didn't sound an alarm, though, because I had always loved ice, and so had my father while I was growing up LOL. Anyway, I had no dizziness or anything like that - just the stairs that really got me. My doctor also thought I was pale (and always would pull my lower eyelid down or check my fingernails at each visit), but I never noticed that, either, because I'm very fair anyway. Bottom line is, isn't it amazing how much we women tolerate and keep going? My doctor told me that he had a patient who taught aerobics and kept right on going, even though her level was even lower than mine! Ladies, pat yourselves on the back because we deserve it! We are so strong and we go through so much! Oh, and since my surgery, I never had another ice cube. Yuck! I have no desire for them at all now!
Unread 08-16-2002, 09:10 AM
Pre-op anemia

I had a similar experience with my primary care doctor at the beginning of all this. When he got the results from my blood test, he called to say that the lab had made a mistake and he would have to send another sample. He said if those results were correct, I wouldn't be able to go to work every day and function normally. Surprise! The results were confirmed on the second test!

All that time I thought I was just getting old (I'm 35) and out of shape. When I got winded walking up a flight of stairs, I would push myself harder to work out and get over it. Ha!

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