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On the complex presentation of dyslexia and iron deficiency anaemia

Greetings folks. Long time no blog post due to losing spoons to whatever it is I’m allergic to that is causing migraines. I strongly suspect fungal spores. Anyhow, my brain fog has been a little bit worse than usual and work has been busy, so I’ve been away for a bit.

I really wanted to write about the brain fog some folks with long covid are experiencing, but when I started writing today I realised there was a shorter story I wanted to tell first, which is what happened to me during the time I became iron deficient and developed anaemia.

The TL;DR summary is that is was the most disabled I have ever felt in my life as a dyslexic.

By the time I saw my GP and she told me my full blood count was “a bit on the low side”, I had been anaemic and undiagnosed for several months and I was very worried about my ability to do my job due to the compounding effects of fatigue and being dyslexic.

There had been an entire afternoon at work where I had sat in a daze and really managed to mangle a text I was editing, inserting errors that I just didn’t notice. My normal dyslexic experience is that I have a pretty good idea of the errors I’m likely to make when editing even if I don’t see them at the time, so it was very scary to me that my problems could get so much worse and that I couldn’t perceive this fully. This was also towards the start of my first job outside of academia and although I had an understanding manager I believe I was extremely lucky to have already passed my probation period when this incident occurred.

So yeah, while I might have only been “a bit” anaemic, I felt extremely unwell. I think my doctor partially understood this, because she did sign me off work for two weeks. I slept for almost four days straight and started taking iron tablets. I did not feel completely better until not only my haemoglobin but also my ferritin (a protein that stores iron) levels were back within a normal range, and this took several months.

To conclude today: this is my brief story of what I’m going to call medical under-understanding by a doctor regarding the interaction between fatigue and neurological symptoms and their real-world consequences. They are entangled.

I’m not quite good enough at medical lingo to be fully sure if the title of the blog works like I’m intending, which is to comment that given the prevalence of both dyslexia and iron deficiency anaemia I suspect they often occur together. Because of this, I hope that what I’ve written here gives some idea as to why being anaemic was much scarier for me as a dyslexic than I think my doctor realized. I had a much greater possibility of worse health outcomes because of the compounding interactions.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to write my blog on brain fog and long covid. If it’s not tomorrow, it will be over the Christmas holidays.

Ann 🦉

Published inBeing dyslexic