Thanks for your well-wishes after my medical misadventure last Saturday night. I limped along all week, feeling slightly heroic that I was going to school each day like a trooper, although I was feeling more and more myself and thus less and less heroic as the week went on. The only things I missed all week were a department meeting on Tuesday so that I could go home and sleep after school (because that first day back, with four classes and a few student meetings, really did wipe me out), and one class today so that I could go see my doctor, plus a student event this evening I really should have gone to but was just too tired ater the doctor's appointment and the cumulative stress of the last week. I feel a little bad about this last omission, but I keep reminding myself to give myself a break because, seriously, it was perfectly reasonable to duck out of it under the circumstances.
So, here's the update from the doctor today. Fortunately, having staples taken OUT of one's scalp, while no picnic, doesn't hurt nearly as much as having them put INTO one's scalp. The doctor said that the wound was healing nicely, so no worries there.
They drew blood and are going to run anemia and other tests; when the results come back in next week, I'm probably going to wind up on iron supplements, which I'm not really looking forward to since iron tends to upset my stomach, but I'll learn to deal with that. The anemia levels that I had last week in the ER aren't enough on their own to cause the fainting, but I also tend to have low blood pressure, which means that I'm more than usually susceptible to feeling fainting (which has been true of me for years), so that means it's extra important for me to stay well-hydrated and have enough sodium and continue my usual practice of eating every few hours. So last Saturday, the combination of slight anemia and slightly low blood pressure could have combined with not quite enough food and water that day to make me feel light-headed.
Plus, she suggested that I go on birth control pills or a hormone IUD to reduce my periods, which have gotten extremely heavy in the last couple of years, such that they are probably a major contributor to my anemia. But first she wants to do an ultrasound to make sure that I don't have uterine fibroids, which are benign but do cause heavy periods and could be treated or even removed surgically. So I have that ultrasound scheduled for late March. The word "surgery" scared me a little, but then I looked up fibroids online and saw that it can be done as an outpatient procedure, so not such a big deal.
I've also been having weird shortness of breath from climbing stairs over the last couple of months, even though I exercise and think of myself as in reasonably good shape for a non-athletic middle-aged person. And that, too, can be a symptom of anemia, so I'm hoping that the iron supplements that I'll probably start taking next week will take care of that shortness of breath problem in reasonably short order; apparently anemia, especially when it's pretty mild, can be treated pretty quickly.
As far as last Saturday goes, the doctor said that if I had just thrown social convention to the wind and gotten down on the floor right away at Costco as soon as I felt faint instead of trying to soldier through it, I probably wouldn't have fainted, and thus obviously wouldn't have hit my head. (Well, actually she didn't say any of the stuff about social convention -- that's me -- but she did say I should have just lain down.) Certainly my experience of feeling faint in the past has been that if I can at least sit down and getting something to eat and drink and some cool air or a cool cloth, I'm fine. I still can't quite picture how that would have worked out in Costco that day, but of course it's not like I was more socially acceptable by fainting dead away than I would have been if I had just abandoned my cart and sat down on the floor somewhere! And quite frankly, I think that's what I would have done if I hadn't already been in line to check out when I started feeling cold and clammy.
So the good news is that (a) nothing serious is wrong with me, and everything that is slightly amiss can be treated easily, and (b) none of this in any way interferes with my South Africa trip, which starts two weeks from today! Yay! I am going to make sure that I have snacks and water with me at all times on the trip, since my experience of traveling is that one can't necessarily control when and under what circumstances one is eating and resting, and I assume that will be especially true when traveling with such a big group that is being run by an educational tour company. I want to make sure that I enjoy the trip thoroughly, so that will mean I need to take some initiative to maintain my own health and comfort -- no problem.
And on that note of self-care, I'm going to publish this and go to bed. One of the good things to come out of last week's medical misadventure is that I've been making sure to get plenty of sleep this week and have really scaled back on the amount of work I'm bringing home in the evenings. That does mean I have a shit-load of grading to do this weekend, but that probably would have been the case anyway since it's the end of term and also since, quite frankly, I'm not very efficient in the evenings even when I do bring work home. So in the spring term, I'm going to seriously commit to only doing reading and class prep in the evenings (since that's the fun stuff), and keeping the grading to my free periods and right after school and a few hours on the weekend, when I work much more quickly and efficiently. In fact, since Ash Wednesday was this week, I decided to make this my Lenten discipline -- not a traditional discipline, of course, but there will be no fasting for me, lest I faint away again!