Today was really one of these days, i had a rather stressful morning at work trying to get the VPN tunnel up and running that did not work properly for 3 weeks and finally it worked. I worked really late yesterday cause I had to take some hours off in the morning to take care of something and so I worked late to compensate for that.
And the morning was stressful, several phone calls from near and far about everything at the same time and then some problems with the systems I am responsible for but around noon I remembered that I was called to the blood donor bus, just around the corner from where I worked. I thought that ”twenty minutes of lie down is exactly what i need now” so I went there and got hooked up to the vampires (actually they were all very nice ladies).
Then after a while, after being drained of a pint or so, I started feeling quite nauseaus and the lady attending to my blood letting came to the rescue. She asked if I had eaten and I had to confess that I had skipped brekkies and also postponed lunch until ”later”.
The stare I got was something similar that I only remember from my youth after breaking my moms favourite crystal vase with an indoor ball game I just invented. The look said it all ”seriously… and you have been doing this for how long?” well, ten years at least… I never skip brekkies on a day of leeches but this morning was awful.
Back at work I had a nice sushi lunch and then everything got back to normal again. Well home again I decided to go out and do a nice short jog. Usually I skip workouts on the same day that they have sucked me dry but I decided to take it easy. I noticed two things, one was that it wasn’t a problem, if anything I felt well rested and full of energy, which is interesting but that may be because I skipped last weeks long run in the weekend and instead went for a 2 hour camera walk taking some autumn pictures.
The second thing I noticed was that my pulse was about 10 bpm higher than normal for a given excertion rate. Normal I believe after being drained, just interesting to see that in reality, so I decided that a 2,5 km run was good enough for today and then went back home again.
It’s getting cold now, I could see some frost glittering on the street pavement and the air was crisp and chill. At first I was a little cold around the feet, my jogging shoes are definitely not winter shoes but after the first km the feet was just great, then my hands felt rather cold instead but the long sleeves of my running jacket solved that problem. Gotta get a pair of nice gloves because this winter I would like to keep running outdoors as long as possible really.
During the blood letting process I also had a nice conversation with one of the nurses, it was interesting to learn about the iron in the body and especially related to sports. It is said that runners often lower their blod iron content after running, especially longer workouts, some believe it is the result of crushing of red blod cells in the feet or compression of the capillaries or some sort. Noone seems to know for sure however just that if you measure the iron content before and after a marathon for example there is a definite difference.
Apart from to low on iron can lead to fatigue and problems with transporting oxygen around the body too much iron is dangerous, even lethal. In Europe there is also a few percent who suffers from hemachromatosis, a medical problem that makes the iron content in the blood too high, there has been examples of runners such as Aran Gordon who started having problem that gradually got worse to the point where he almost died and after a blood letting where suddenly fine again – for a while, it is a slow killing disease and a genetic problem.
The reason why it is more common in Europe than in other parts of the world is that the disease actually protected us from The Black Death. The plague infection is rather effectively hindered by the excess iron content in the blood but because about 1/3 of the population was killed off by the plague this gene is now rather prominent over here. It was not until 1996 that the reason for hemachromatosis was known and still lots of people believe that more iron is always better.
Fertile females have rarely too much iron in their bodies, the monthly bleeding is seeing to that, together with other hormones that also seems involved in regulating this but as much as 22% of the males in a study in Iceland was found to have excess iron in their bodies. This has also been linked to a number of problems such as Alzheimers disease since iron flows into the brain straight through the blood-brain barrier.
Iron overload seems to be increasing with age in males and females also after the menopause and all in all this is just as a good reason as any to give blood regularly. In fact it is just as likely that men over 40 and women over 70 to suffer from too high iron levels than suffering from shortage of iron in their blood. Something to think about because until just recently the medical corps seems to have only considered a too low iron level as a problem.
I don’t think that even after a good blood letting as such today I actually get anemic, I seem to recover very quickly, already the day after I notice no difference to normal really. The hours after the actual draining I can be a little bit more thirsty than normal, the body is compensating for the loss of fluid of course.
My Hb was 153, well in the upper range of what is normal (about 130-155) so it was about time to give blood.