Something was not right with me as of the spring. I just knew it: my muscles were fatiguing easily (even so much as folding the laundry was exhausting the muscles in my arms and I work out and am fit) I was not sleeping well, was cold much of the time and my hair felt just a little 'off' in texture and I was getting a few grey strands at my temple.
So I went to the doctor in May but my usual one, was on holiday. My own doctor is quite thorough and I wish I had just waited until she had returned because the one I did see, chalked it up to being, 'just stress'. Thus, she dismissed my request to have blood work done (since it had not been 'quite year' when I last had it done). I wish I had pushed for it then because as of late summer, things just got progressively worse for me.
The fatigue increased, I developed a 'brain fog' which has decreased my abilities as a writer (which I am by trade) I noticed my immunity was at an ebb, my appetite became nil (NOT helping matters, of course, but exacerbating them) my periods became lighter and my moods more erratic. Then there was my hair--IS my hair: as of August, thinner-feeling strands, breaking like mad, dry-as-a-bone and while I have natural auburn highlights in my dark brown hair, I noticed these had oddly increased whereas my hair care routine had not so much.
I have to admit that I am not sure how much faith I put into the whole 'protein-moisture' balance because who the heck ever worried about that as a kid? Most shampoos and conditioners contain proteins and moisturizers. I believe that I probably rarely--if ever--used products without protein in my life as a result and I always had gorgeous hair. I talked to a hairdresser friend of mine who dismisses the whole 'protein-sensitive' belief system. I think protein (usually
) is more of an issue for those who have chemically-processed hair and are using these hard treatments more often to replace what was lost through their hair being processed to begin with. I have virgin hair and have for well over 20 years. My hairdresser friend urged me to get my butt back to the doctor and to see MY doctor this time. While I waited for my appointment, I omitted protein from my hair care routine and frankly, it seemed to help at first but ultimately, no.
...My doctor was alarmed by my symptoms and ordered bloods right away. We found I was very low on iron--but not enough to be called, 'anemic'. I sure as hell have the symptoms though, but she stated I could have symptoms of anemia without being low enough to be deemed such (technically).
it happened. 17 years of veganism and through a bout of orthorexia/anorexia and pregnancy/nursing, I have never had this happen--or any other nutritional deficiency. But I became severely depressed due to personal conflicts in my life, began to eat a sparse diet and ironically, a nutritionist suggested I quit and/or reduce taking green drinks, a health shake of mine as well as a couple of my other supplements. I really
wish I had not listened to her. I do not 'live' on supplements by any means, but I do
rely on a few and obviously, they have served me well for years and years now.
So now I am minding my 'p's and q's' and am on 600 mg. of iron per day for 3 months until I am to be re-tested and then my doctor and I are going to take it from there.
But my hair...What am I to do? I read it is usually the first to show signs of iron-deficiency and the last to recover and that it can take months. I am not sure it has months. It is about to my waistline and I really do not want to have to cut it ALL off. I read a very insightful article on lack of iron and how it can affect the hair (even imparting a red-brown hue to dark hair). I have got white dots on the ends of so many of my strands. I am not sure if I should trim it just yet, or wait till if/when this nutritional catastrophe is over as I recently cut off three inches before my hair went kaput over the past couple of months.
How do I keep it moister and stronger by external means while I heal the internal cause? I have been washing it only twice a week, finger-combing it (I only brush it gently just to smooth it over at the end), I have been deep conditioning it weekly, using a rinse-out conditioner after I shampoo and sometimes a leave-in and a sealant of argan or olive oil. I have not 'styled' my hair since I was a teenager and certainly with no heat styling tools either! But I do know, yes, one can 'overcondition'. I did that once and it sucked but was fixed quickly. I worry by putting so much moisture into it due to what I thought was 'just protein overload,' I have made it weaker. I worry that I am going to mess up my hair so that once my iron stores are enough to return it to its normal conformity and moisture level--I will have messed it up anyway by external means.
I think it may need protein again--just in a shampoo and a rinse-out. I also went off panthenol which I feels is essential to patching up some of this damage I have got from being 'malnourished'. I have, however, phased out, 'denatured alcohol' for good, having departed company with my 15 year-long love affair with, "Aubrey Organics". Am looking to this, "Alchemy" line now and am soon to make a purchase.
I hope I did not piss off anyone with my comments on protein above. I actually think I may have over-proteined my hair a couple of months ago but in my case, I am not sure it would have happened if my hair had not already been affected by the lack of iron in my system. My hair has always worshipped protein. I still
wonder if it is/was a factor at all (since using a sample of, "Aubrey's GPB"--my hair got crunchy and fused together in a section). But I have been moisturizing my hair diligently, avoiding protein for 2 months and my hair is only superficially softer. If I do NOTHING to it, it gets thinner feeling, even more brittle and like parchment paper. Ultimately, it must be because of the iron-deficiency I know.
Gosh, just writing this post has winded me! I hate having to curtail my writing of late (overall) but in regard to this post, it is overdue for it. This 'illness' is certainly going to affect my career! I have even been falling asleep mid-pilates mat workout, it has gotten so bad.
Finally, another question? Anyone anemic and/or iron-deficient? How long did it take for your hair to recuperate? Was it really the last to recover among all other physical issues?
Thanks and love to you all! Brightest blessings too!
P.S. Sorry I ramble on...and on.
Thanks to whomever reads this and/or responds!