When Strengths Become Weaknesses

Most of us would have had anemia in our lives; we just don’t know because in most cases it is mild, temporary and probably goes away on its own.

If detected early, anemia can be easily managed through medications, 147 or even with just the right diet. Even if the anemia is a result of internal bleeding, as long as the bleeding is not complex and acute, early detection enables problem resolution with just medications.  

For old women, hemoglobin levels of 9 or 10 should not cause much concern (the desirable range for women is 12-17). A hemoglobin count of less than 6 is life threatening – for anyone.

With some women who are able to withstand pain and fatigue better, it might be difficult to detect anemia by observation alone until it reaches a fairly low level. 148

For almost a week, her legs and neck were hurting while she walked but she had almost no other symptoms and was able to manage herself to a large extent. 149 She complained, but not a lot. Such a low level of anemia must have resulted in acute chest pains, dizziness, breathlessness and more, but for amma, it had not. It is not clear why.

Is it possible that with her desire to be active and be on her own, amma had somehow camouflaged her anemia until it reached a dangerous level of 4?

In her final week, even though she stopped doing household activities and was sleeping many more hours than usual, her face looked fresh, she spoke well, and she was even able to sit outside the house in the evenings. She surely would not have had the physical strength for these – so it was perhaps her mental strength and fearlessness that hid the seriousness of the problem.

Had she been less strong-willed, would she have complained a lot more, or I would have suspected something serious much earlier? Would it have prevented a blood transfusion? Or would the blood transfusion have gone smoother had it been done a week earlier?

These recurring questions constantly remind me that our biggest strengths could also be our biggest weaknesses.

I was her doctor <= When strengths become weaknesses => The Big Sleep

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Notes

147. Most medications typically try to correct the iron deficiency in the blood.

148. I read a heart-rending story from Doctors without Borders how many women in South Sudan can tolerate pain so well that even at a hemoglobin level of 2, they just about survived – https://blogs.msf.org/bloggers/veronica/hemoglobin-2

149. The pain in her leg and neck were not present when she was lying down or while asleep.

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SECTIONSAMMA | TICKING TIME BOMBS  | AMMA AND ME  | LEG PAIN  | COVID AND AMMA’S LAST DAYS  | HEALTH AND MEDICINE  | THOUGHTS

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