In Dog Years 

Jernee: back from the Groomer’s, about to head to the park for a walk.

I prepare for life as it comes knowing that I have a companion who has been steadfast for ten years. I enjoy peace and quiet and am mostly calm and my surefire supposed “Yapper Mixed Breed” is calm too. Anything one can think of to want in a pet, Jernee is it. She hangs at my heels, my shadow, tracing my steps. I’m severely anemic. I have been for years. Separate from that, I’m one dubbed as “a carrier for sickle-cell anemia”. I.e., I have the trait.

I do not plan on having children, so worrying myself silly about my mate’s health is not a concern. Not in that realm. Plus, there’s no mate. Bloodwork is a normal part of my life; having it drawn every three to six months has been my normal for the last eleven years. If ever I change physicians (which is rare), my medical records accompany me. There’s a lot of history to report and I make certain the new physician is “in the know”. I lack the essentials needed to maintain normal levels of iron and ferritin. At one point, specialists thought I was bleeding out. I had several procedures done to search for the bleed in question. When they could not locate it, they wanted to refer me to yet another specialist, one well-versed in hematology. Just a head’s up, telling someone you believe something is wrong with their blood is a frightening thing to hear.

I was younger and a bit more of a spitfire then, so I told my Gastroenterologist that I was done with all the testing. I felt like a guinea pig, like someone to poke and prod until a resolution presented itself. I wanted a normal life. One with no needles, research, procedures, etc. But now my body still isn’t producing enough iron on its own. My MCV level is almost always at least four points lower than the norm and my iron and ferritin levels struggle to make it just over the normal range. If I do not take my iron pills and eat the appropriate foods, those levels drop significantly.

Jernee is my little helper. Years ago, I would be so fatigued, I’d nearly pass out. Prone to letting me know when I needed rest, Jernee would hover near me without fail. She was like an alert. Nowadays, she follows me around more than she has before. It makes me believe that something is off-kilter. My next appointment for bloodwork and a checkup is at the end of July. I feel great. I do not feel odd, fatigued, nor do I feel as if I am lacking anything. But, Jernee is never wrong. She senses things well before their reality shapes in front of me.

I will not worry, though. I am doing what I should and I am also staying out of the heat when it is far too hot. Staying hydrated is important too. “By the book”, when you live with an illness and you want to be compliant, that phrase and implementing it, is key. “By the book”. As the dog years pile on, I am living my life knowing that not only do I have my health in good hands, Jernee takes it into account too.