The Hematologist Visit

Yesterday was my appointment with the hematologist.

It started of rather badly.

When they called me back, I was expecting to be weighed and have my blood pressure checked.  I was not expecting to do this in the room where they were doing blood draws.

I walked in, saw the chair with the little drawers with all the needles and blood-draw-related supplies and jumped back.  I’m not sure why it caught me by surprise.  I mean, it’s a hematology office after all, right?  Blood is what they do.  But it did.  I guess I just didn’t expect it to be right there.

I weighed.  Managed to sit down.  And then I started crying.  I told the nurse that I have issues with needles, and she was super nice about it.  She gave me some tissues and promised it would be quick and that she’s really good and it wouldn’t hurt.  She didn’t lie.  She was excellent.  It was just a tiny finger prick.  No big deal.

Yet, still I had to sit there shaking and crying and trying to pull myself back together.  It was so embarrassing.  All that for a little finger prick.  Honestly, it wasn’t the finger prick that bothered me.  It was the chair and seeing the supplies.

Afterwards, I went to the restroom and washed my face and tried to pull myself together.

The doctor came in right away.  They had a lab there in the office, so my results came back immediately.

She had great news:  My blood looks just like it should look for any pregnant woman at 28 weeks.  She didn’t see anything abnormal.  The iron was a little low, but not low enough to class me as anemic.  It was 11.9, up from 10.6 last Wednesday.  She said my platelets were well within normal range.

She did agree that my white blood cells were a little high, but they looked normal.  I guess there are different kinds of white blood cells and they mix of mine was what she would expect to see.  She said there is some indication that there might be an infection within my body, but there are other things that can cause high white blood cells, including stress.  While this seems a pretty likely factor in my case, my midwife has already agreed to test me for H. pylori next time I come in, and the hematologist suggested checking my urine for an infection in my bladder.

She said that I should definitely keep taking the Floradix iron supplement, and that it would be something to continue throughout pregnancy and until I’m done breastfeeding, but she said she wouldn’t worry.

She also looked at my blood under a microscope and that it looked good there, too.  She even went through my med list to see if there was anything I was on or that I had been on that could have caused issues with my blood.  Nope.

She was pleased that my midwife had taken the initiative to go ahead and refer me.  She said that it’s certainly better to play it safe and have a look at things rather than closing your eyes and hoping it will all work out.  One more point in my midwives’ favor.  I like them more and more every day.

I was really happy that my iron levels had already gone up in the last few days.  This really gives me hope and makes me feel less victimized by my own body.

Update: My midwife called me back last night and wants me to go ahead and come in early to find out what’s going on with the white blood cell count.  They had gone up since the initial blood draw on 7/6 and she wants to track it down.  I had an appointment originally scheduled for 7/21, but she wants to see me tomorrow.  She’ll test for H. pylori, a vaginal infection, and a UTI.  If there’s something that she can do to make me more comfortable, she wants to do it quickly.  I love her!

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Natural Ways to get Iron

This Sunday, I’ll be jumping off my previous posts of the week and talking about iron.  Since I recently found out that I’m pretty anemic, it seems like a good topic choice.

“Molly,” you might ask, “Why don’t you just get an iron pill?”

A very good and very important question.  I don’t get along well with iron supplements.  First and foremost, they aggravate the nausea.  It’s a huge part of the reason I do not take a prenatal vitamin.  The high iron just makes me ill.  They also can be very constipating, and believe me, I get enough of that from the Zofran.  Finally, they can be difficult for your body to absorb.

Nutritional supplements can be good, but often they pass right through your body.  The trick is to get your vitamins and minerals from food.  For the vitamins that I do take, I try my best to find companies that source theirs from foods.  New Chapter vitamins (my daily vitamin) are sourced from food.  So is Floradix, my new iron supplement.

Sourcing nutrients from food also means they’re easier on the stomach.  So far, I’ve not thrown up a New Chapter vitamin (everyone knock on wood!), and the Floradix seems to sit pretty well, too.

I would like to find some other ways to safely and gently incorporate iron into my diet through simple and easy changes to my eating.  Now, anyone who has had HG knows that this can be difficult.  Finding snacks that don’t make me sick can sometimes be a challenge, so I did what anyone would do!

I called my mom!

And when you call in my mom, she springs into action in a big way!  She pulled out her trusty copy of Prescription for Nutritional Healing and went straight to work looking up foods for me to try.  Some of the ones she listed included (but is not limited to):

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Dark leafy greens (NOT spinach)
  • Purple grapes
  • Plums and prunes
  • Carrots
  • Dried Apricots
  • Liver (yeah right!)
  • Meat
It also listed foods to avoid (also not limited to):
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Other dairy products
  • Sugars
  • Chocolate (damn!)
  • Spinach

Wait a second.  Avoid spinach?  Apparently so!  According to the book (and wikipedia backs this up), spinach contains a compound called oxalate that can block the absorption of iron.  Good to know!

I also asked the good folks over at the Natural Parents Network Facebook page for some gentle and natural ideas to help with adding iron into my diet.

Those ladies came through in a big way.  I got a big thumbs up on the Floradix, but they had some other suggestions as well.  I’m not sure how ready I am to try powdered colostrum or terramin clay (or where I can even find those things!), but they also suggested some simple things like:

  • Cast iron skillets (check!)
  • blackstrap molasses
  • Stinging nettle infusions (will have to check and see if that’s safe for pregnancy)
  • Avoid corn and wheat (not sure how well I can do that since I’m on a bread-heavy diet right now)
  • Fresh parsley
  • Turnip greens and carrot tops
  • Foods high in vitamin C to help the iron be absorbed into my body

The most appealing suggestion, though, was to try out some green smoothies to see if they are palatable to me.

Now I have to admit:  I was not exactly sure what a green smoothie is.

If you’re clueless like me, here’s the gist of it:  Green smoothies are a fruit-based smoothie into which is blended a leafy green of some sort.  This can be spinach, kale, chard, lettuce, dandelion greens, or anything else leafy and green.  They look green, but the flavor is that of the fruit

I swung by Trader Joe’s today, and here’s what I got for my green smoothie experiments:

  • Kale
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Fresh medley of cut pineapple, papaya, and mango
  • Orange juice
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut water
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Unsulfered Prunes (can be soaked to reconstitute for blending)
I’ve also got in my pantry:
  • Organic blackstrap molasses
  • Flax meal (high in omega 3s)
  • Agave nectar (if I need to sweeten it)
Let the experimenting begin!

I Made it to the Third Trimester!

High fives everyone!  I made it to the 3rd trimester!

I’ve also taken two doses of Floradix, and it did not make me sick!  More high fives!  I mixed it into orange juice just like you guys recommended.  The vitamin C helps you absorb the iron apparently.

I called my mom who pulled out her very trusty natural healing reference book, and she had some great ideas as well.  The book gave great lists of food sources for iron.  I also posted over on the Natural Parents’ Network Facebook page for some natural ways to increase iron.  I think Sunday’s post might revolve around what I learned from there, from my mom, from you guys, and from my other friends about this.

I’m not sure how long it will take before I start feeling better.  Hopefully soon!  I’m looking forward to not feeling like I’m going to pass out every few minutes.

Gestational Diabetes Lab Results Update

Boy, when they said they usually get the results for the gestational diabetes test back fast, they meant it!

The Good:

I officially do not have gestational diabetes!  Hooray!

The Not-so-Good:

They also ran tests to check my iron levels, my platelets, and my white blood cell counts.  I guess that would just be a general blood panel?

My iron is very low.  This is particularly worrisome because I’m going into a period of time where we expect my iron levels to drop pretty significantly as my body doubles its blood volume over the next few weeks.  This means I need to go out and get my Floradix like now.  I’m going right after work.  This would explain the dizziness, feeling “white,” and the stars I’ve been seeing at the edges of my vision.

My platelets are also, apparently, low.  Not scary bad low, but low enough that we need to do something about it.

My white blood cells are high.  There’s something going on in my body that is making them multiply.  I don’t have a cold or anything, but you’d expect to see these levels with an infection of some kind.  Next blood draw, they’re testing me again for H. pylori to see if I picked that up anywhere.

So the bottom line is this: There’s something going on.  We can wait around for it to get unpleasant or we can deal with it straight away.  I’m a deal with it straight away kind of girl.

With that in mind, I’ve been referred to a hematologist.  I’ve made the call.  They grilled me a little on my numbers to see what kind of urgency this is.  I was really impressed by how proactive they were with getting me in quickly.  They said that none of the numbers I was telling them sounded critical, but that they wanted to check with the midwives to see what the urgency was.

They called my midwife, spoke to her to learn a little more, and then called me back right away.  It’s not so urgent that they need to get me in today, which they were preparing to do if necessary.  But they do want to see me fairly quickly to get things taken care of, so they’ve got me scheduled for Monday morning.

I guess I will know more then about what’s going on.  I suspect I need to mentally prepare myself for more needle sticks.  I am going to go ahead and order the Hypnobabies “Needles are OK” CD to help me with that.

A couple of positives here:

My midwives have made it clear that they have a firm line in the sand for what they will and will not handle.  I’m glad of this.  It’s important for a medical professional to be able to say, “I’m not comfortable dealing with this.  I want to refer you to someone who is.”  That’s a huge positive for me.

The other positive is that we’re dealing with this right now.  Maybe these funky levels in my blood are contributing to my nausea.  Maybe if we can fix this I’ll start feeling better.

I suppose the only thing to do is wait and see.