Childhood anemia. Something I know very little about. That is why I was shocked to learn that one of my friends was dealing with this condition in her son. Scrolling through my Facebook feed one morning, I read her story and asked if I could share her words with you. She writes powerful testimony of trusting your gut as a mother and to continue to ask questions. Her desire to help other moms really struck a cord with me. I am always preaching here at Juggling Real Food and Real Life that knowledge is power and my friend Lisa feels the same way.
Here is her story……….
Been debating on posting this for awhile, but today I heard from a friend wanting advice about a similar situation. Normally I don’t post personal things, just not me. However, I do believe in the fact that sharing a story might help someone one day. Moms- you should always trust what your gut is telling you. A simple blood test can show so much!
Our little guy has been through a rough few months. The picture shows him in December on the left and the one on the right is from last week. We didn’t know it, but he was severely anemic caused by iron deficiency in his diet. What I have learned is that children that drink a lot of milk, yogurt, cheese, etc and don’t eat a lot of green veggies and red meat are likely to become anemic. As an adult or older child they experience shortness of breath, headache, tiredness and can express those feelings. As a 3 year old our little guy would often tell us he “didn’t feel well” or “his head hurt.” But most of the time we just brushed it off with “drink more water” or “take a rest.”
In August at his 3-year old well-check we shared that info and a concern over the little amount of meat he was eating. We were told not to worry and he was getting all the protein he needed from the milk. At that same appointment, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur and started seeing a cardiologist. His heart was overworking and enlarged but structurally the cardiologist couldn’t find a reason.
This fall when he started preschool, he kept getting sick- croup, pneumonia, colds nonstop. At our many sick visits our pediatrician thought it was related to his first year of preschool. We requested to see an endocrinologist after realizing he hadn’t grown in almost 18 months at one of these many sick visits.
One visit with the endocrinologist in January and she ordered blood work. She listened to our concerns and could tell we were worried about his activity level. The blood test showed that he was severely anemic and needed to be hospitalized for a blood transfusion immediately. His hemoglobin level was 4. The normal range is between 12-16 and most people need a transfusion if they drop to 6 because their bodies can’t keep up. His huge drop had been happening slowly over time and we didn’t know it. The boy in that picture was feeling so terrible and his body was working so hard to move oxygen around that he just couldn’t keep up.
All of his behaviors and symptoms were typical signs of anemia and somehow it was missed. As parents we didn’t know what to watch for, which is why I am sharing this. With hope that it might help someone else. I know that many kids in the world are going through things that are WAY worse than this. Anemia is usually treated with a simple iron supplement. Unless it’s severe, then blood transfusions are needed. As a parent it frustrates me that this could have been detected months ago by a simple blood test. One little poke and we could have treated this with supplements and diet.
The spectacular news is that our little guy is like a brand new kid! He runs, plays, and climbs like crazy. He is doing so much better in school and hasn’t been sick since the diagnosis. He’s sleeping though the night, eating better, and is SO much happier! Amazing what a difference and I am thankful everyday!
I hope you found Lisa’s amazing story helpful. Share this around with your friends so that more moms have the information they need if a similar situation arises for them. As always, knowledge is power. Eating a diet diverse in vitamins and nutrients is important, but it’s not always possible. Make sure to to make your pediatrician aware of what your child is eating, especially if you feel that your child isn’t eating a diverse diet.