Hemoglobin = Hemogoblin

What are you thinking about today?

I’m thinking about Hemoglobin. I wish I could say I’m thinking about it in the same context I think about other fun words like legumes, onomatopoeia, wienerschnitzel, and boysenberry, but this week hemoglobin is more than just a word that back dives off of the end of my tongue. My hemoglobin is shrinking.

Normal Ranges – White Blood Cells: 3.8-10.8, Red Blood Cells: 4.20-5.80 Hemoglobin 13.2-17.1, Platelet Count: 140-400

3/22/12 – WBC: 19.2, RBC: 4.67, Hemoglobin: 14, Platelets: 198
4/5/12 – WBC: 9.9, RBC: 4.54, Hemoglobin: 13.9, Platelets: 173
4/19/12 – WBC: 5.4, RBC: 4.90, Hemoglobin: 13.5, Platelets: 151
5/2/12 – WBC: 4.2, RBC: 4.31, Hemoglobin: 13.0, Platelets: 117

My first thought when writing about Hemoglobin is “chlorophyll…more like borophyll.”*(scroll down). Borophyll is right. It doesn’t get any more boring than blogging about things of the blood. However, since I’ve made a commitment to exercise, borophyll, I mean hemoglobin, has been at the forefront of my mind.

What does hemoglobin do and why does it matter? Let me play a doctor for a second.

I’ll need you to wait in the waiting room.

Oh, hi. Thanks for waiting. Where were we? Yes, hemoglobin. Hemoglobin transports oxygen in the blood stream. As hemoglobin decreases, the level of oxygen that fuels the muscles decreases, which creates the very real effect of feeling tired all of the time. If I could afford to nap all day, this wouldn’t be a problem, however, I’ve been committed to working out, building endurance, and running three miles at least five times a week. Now, I’ll never know the source of my fatigue.

Do I push through the tiredness? Am I going too hard? Am I losing stamina? Is this just a tough workout? Do I need to slow down? Do I need to work harder? If I slow down, am I cheating myself? Okay, I’ll slow down, but am I just making excuses? I don’t want to make excuses, I’ll just push through and go even harder. Can I go harder?

It’s a vicious cycle. Working out when blood levels are normal creates enough second guessing. Trying to do it when you know you’re staring at a deficiency, gives the second guessing an eight ball of cocaine.

Sometimes it’s best to never look at blood test results. However, the nurse called me on Tuesday morning to tell me that they’re beginning to monitor my counts a little more closely to make sure things don’t get too low. As you can see (above), I’m below, or hovering around, the low end of what normal should be. So begins the frustration of trying to gain momentum, only to be thrown off track by something I can’t control.

It’s frustrating.

For now, I’ll continue to run and try to build endurance. I’ll continue to try to push myself a little harder each day. Hopefully, I have the energy and strength to maintain the hard work I’m starting to enjoy.

The alternative is to give in and allow myself to be frustrated by the process. If I wanted to quit, I’d have a valid excuse to do so. After all, I have the blood tests to show it. The path of least resistance is wide open. I can walk through it, but I refuse to. I’m too grateful for the opportunity to run, to use my legs, to try to get into shape. I’ll run until I can’t.

Tomorrow may provide a different set of circumstances, but all we have is right now, this moment, this step, this keystroke. Your deficiency probably isn’t hemoglobin, it may be a fear, your history, a broken relationship, or another circumstance only you’re aware of. You could easily give in.


Not today.

The more you appreciate your strengths and the things you are able to do, the less time you have for all of the other nonsense that doesn’t really matter. If we give ourselves is our best effort, everything else is out of our control.



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  • Becky12378

    …….most women are slightly anemic (low hemoglobin)  from time to time during their lives.  

    • Justin Ozuna

      So you’re saying I should contact my OB/GYN?

  • Julia

    Justin- great post, thank you for reminding me of my strengths (and weaknesses).  Keep on running…even if it is not as much as you want.  You will get where you need to be.

  • Bbkennel

    I read an article in “Cancer Compass” that suggests exercise is an important activity in one’s life, especially cancer patients. I am lucky that I can take a short “time-out” if needed. Meditation helps me. Thanks for the article.

    • Justin Ozuna

      It really has helped me out a whole lot. I used to get tired easily and want to sleep all of the time. I decided to push against the fatigue by working out. It was really difficult when I began, but I have a lot more energy and don’t feel the effects of “cancer fatigue” like I used to. Worst case, staying active gets your mind on normalcy and the things you can do. There are so many benefits.