Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lab Battles

Like many others with GI issues, I have to constantly fight my electrolyte levels to keep them balanced. I've touched on the chronic fight and about the severe all out war I had with my electrolytes in the past that have since stabilized with diet and medication alone.

I experience cramping in my hands and feet on a daily basis, usually beginning in late afternoon so I decided I probably needed to read my last lab results. I was shocked by how little I'm able to maintain my electrolytes just in the low normal ranges. I shouldn't be surprised but I was. I knew that my hemoglobin remains below normal to just barely normal but I was surprised by my sodium and potassium levels and the ongoing difficulty I have to keep them in the normal ranges. I hadn't paid any attention as my doctor reviews them as normal and focuses on areas I need to improve, i.e. Hemoglobin.

I don't think I'll ever have a healthy hemoglobin. I take anywhere from 2-5 iron tablets a day just to keep my hemoglobin where it's at. It's hard to tell when my hemoglobin has dropped more or what just feels like normal to me. I try to notice though if I seem to be taking more naps and if so to try to take more iron, just in case. I eat a lot of salt compared to the typical person and it's a good thing because my sodium stays just above normal! I have potassium pills if I need to take them but I rely primarily on diet alone for potassium. Although, perhaps I should start taking them to prevent the daily cramping!

My B12 has been above average and increasing with my daily B12 microlozenge. I discovered to really have to let the microlozenge dissolve under your tongue without swallowing, as directed, versus just chewing it or it really won't absorb as well. I discussed before how I truly require a B12 in the 1000s, far above normal, in order to feel the benefits of a normal B12.
I have a theory on why the microlozenge works better for me than the injections, contrary to what my doctor expected. Because of my SBS and increased difficulty with absorption, I require a steady supply of nutrients in order to maintain whereas four shots a week isn't as steady as daily and there seems to be a short life to B12 anyway.
Fortunately my albumin is also well within normal as I'm able to eat enough protein to keep it safely maintained.

We all have ongoing battles with keeping everything balanced for our overall health. The first key is to be aware of where we are presently so we can know how much further we need to go. Don't assume your labs are alright just because your doctor doesn't point them out as an area of concern. You may need to be altering your diet and supplements on occasion to keep you out of concerning levels. It's just a good idea in general to be aware in order to be proactive and healthy. Let's keep fighting the good fight!

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