Project 22 – Chapter 5
Chapter 5 – My Blood Test Results
At my first consultation with Brooke, she’d given me a series of blood tests to do. It was actually only one donation of blood for me, but the pathologists would test for a few different things.
I could’ve either gone to the pathology place, donate blood and pay just over $230 for the service or go to my General Practitioner (GP), take 10 minutes of his time (bulk billed, which means no money changes hands) and get the blood test scripts from him, then go to my pathology place and pay nothing.
I opted to see my GP. The first appointment they had was the following Sunday and that meant I had to get my bloods done asap, so Brooke could have them the following week.
My lesson from visiting the GP was to book in for the next appointment, the follow up appointment, where I was to go and pick up my blood test results at the first appointment. Because once the blood tests were in I couldn’t get back into see my GP until the day after my next appointment with Brooke *sigh* – yes I tried to get the results without the appointment but I couldn’t work around the process.
Brooke had sent me to have blood tests for:
- A General Wellness Profile, which included my iron levels
- A Basic Thyroid Profile – TSH, T3 & T4
- Vitamin B12, and
- Vitamin D
I took my form from Brooke to my GP. It was my first appointment with my GP and he asked my some general health questions including:
- Medications I was on (none)
- When was my last pap smear (in 2020)
- Other personal history (Fibroadenomas (benign lumps in my breasts that I’d had since I was 20 and got them checked every 5 years – I’m now checking every year since the breast cancer family history, Post Natal Depression that I’m now recovered from, and my lung issues that were under control at the time)
- Family history (breast cancer, colon cancer and Parkinsons)
- Height and weight, and
- How he could help me today?
He said to me, ‘If your health’s fine, what do you need from me?’
I explained that I was working with a Naturopath to improve my energy levels, including low iron and my lung challenges. Time was tight so I did the best I could. I gave him the list of blood tests Brooke recommended and aside from a little laugh at the copper, he was able to write a referral for them all.
Our GP had been recommended to us. After Chris had a bad run in with a GP, another medical professional he was working with made a phone call. Our GP was no longer accepting clients, but he took on Chris and opened his door to Teddy and I too. He’s what my Functional Dr would call a ‘safe GP’. One who’s open to understanding and looking at things on a deeper level, even though (as she called it) they’re in ‘standard land’.
When leaving my GP he got me to see the nurse so she could take my:
- Blood pressure
- Base Metabolic Index (BMI)
They weren’t concerned about any of it, but my blood pressure was super low for me. I guess there were times in the past, when I was fit, that it was low, but I’m not fit so it was interesting to see and I noted I wanted to monitor that going forward.
I left the appointment, had my bloods done the next day and went back to get them from my GP.
Everything was as I expected and my GP’s only comment was that my iron was low but it still ‘fit’ inside his range (just).
I took the results away and headed to a local cafe to review them. The only anomalies from the pathology perspective were:
- Iron, 5 umol/L (this is bottom of the range from the pathology perspective)
- Ferritin (iron stores), 22 ug/L (the pathology range starts at 30)
- Saturation (iron in my blood), 8% (the pathology range starts at 20%)
- CRP (short term inflammation), 10 mg/L (the pathology range is less than 5)
Please note, in the pathology results aka my blood test results, there is a range listed next to it, this helps you see if your number fits into the range or not.
Saturation is the amount of iron that’s in my blood, and given I have low iron and low iron stores, it’s no wonder I have low iron in my blood. There can be many reasons for why I have low iron. One fact is that I’m female and I bleed once a month, others include:
- not getting enough iron in my diet
- low iron absorption, so I could be eating lots of iron but my body doesn’t absorb it
- parasites in my digestive tract, parasites can eat the iron before I get to absorb it
- being pregnant and my baby taking more than I’m consuming (I had this when I was pregnant with Teddy)
- exercising too much (that wasn’t happening)
In a web post by healthline.com in 2017, ‘According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) iron deficiency is the top nutritional disorder in the world. Research suggests that as many as 80 percent of people in the world don’t have enough iron in their bodies. It also suggests that as many as 30 percent of people have anemia due to prolonged iron deficiency’.
CRP is the level of C-reactive protein in the body. It’s produced by the liver when bacteria or other things come into our bodies that can be harmful to us. Effectively it’s part of our bodies defence system. When CRP is released it’s call the acute phase or inflammatory response (our bodies are cool hey).
When I was researching it, I found an article from testing.com and they suggested that normal CRP levels vary, however it’s generally accepted that 8-10 mg/L or lower is normal. Most healthy adult levels are 3 mg/L.
I was wondering why my GP didn’t talk about it, but now that I saw that it’s considered normal, I let it go and kept researching.
In essence, anything below 10 mg/L, according to testing.com, didn’t require treatment. Also CRP levels in females, patients on hormone replacement therapy and those with a high body mass index, could be higher. I didn’t fit this category.
The article also stated that mildly elevated CRP levels can be associated with insomnia and depression. I didn’t have either of those.
CRP levels higher than 10 mg/L usually suggested inflammation but it doesn’t say where. This could be linked to my lungs, but I was just guessing.
Note: I learnt, through my GP, that if our health records are linked to My Health, the Government initiative, we can get a copy of them through that portal (I use my.gov.au) but as I learnt the next time I was doing my bloods and I wouldn’t have them in time for my appointment with Brooke, they lock them for 7 days after they’re been uploaded. Which meant for me, the results were there on the Monday and I was seeing Brooke on the Tuesday, but I couldn’t access them until the following Monday. A wee bit frustrating!
My third appointment with Brooke
I emailed the results to Brooke and because there wasn’t anything major, we were already addressing the iron issue, we reviewed them at our next appointment.
This appointment was more of a check in. Everything was going well, I was on track with taking my supplements but we had the results of my Hair test and there were a few surprises in there, you know when you ‘think’ you’re being healthy, and you are by the standard definition of what health is, but your body doesn’t quite agree.
I want to share with you, that when it comes to blood test results, what Western Medicine are looking for and what Functional Medicine are looking for, can be different. Often Functional Doctors, including Naturopaths, have a ‘tighter’ scale. For example, the pathology results have a range from 5 to 30 for Iron levels, the Mayo Clinic recommends 35 to 45 for a woman depending on her age. Interesting hey.
Therefore when Brooke looks at my blood test results, what might seem normal to my GP, may not be where she wants them.
My next step
Again, it was just to keep going. I continued tracking my wee at night time, which was steadily decreasing to 1 or 2 times a night – that was a win. I kept taking my supplements and implemented the results of my Hair test. There were some major changes here and experiments that I had to go through, but I’m pleased with the outcomes and I’ll tell you all about them in the next chapter!
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Are you going on your own journey in 2022? Then tag me and use #project22 so we can connect xo
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