From inching towards a coma because of anaemia to living a full life: This is Bhagyashri’s story

Bhagyashri Prabhakaran is a 46-year-old woman and a former athlete, who has been suffering from severe anaemia. With her doctors’ help and changes in her diet, Bhagyashri decided to turn her life around. This is her story.
Living with anaemia isn’t easy.
Reader Submission Updated: 4 May 2021, 07:41 am IST
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Before I discovered I was anaemic, I was very proactive and energetic. I had a regular routine balancing my office and household work. One day, on my way to the office, I collapsed on the road. I dismissed it as merely a wave of low energy but the doctors diagnosed me with anaemia.

Five years ago, somewhere in 2015, I started experiencing problems with my menstrual cycle. My periods were regular, however, I had heavy bleeding and acute back pain. Investigations revealed that I was suffering from uterine fibroids—more than one million women in India, every year suffer due to this condition. But my case was special because of how severe it was and how, as I would come to see later, continuous it was.

Fighting anaemia to fighting for my life

The day I went to the doctor to seek advice for my excessive bleeding problem, sometime in 2017, I was informed that my haemoglobin level was abysmally low at 5.1 and that if this drop continued, I could slip into a coma. This was extremely scary to learn and the doctor, too, scolded me for not seeking treatment earlier. That day, I decided to turn my life around.

Aside from the main threat that severe anaemia poses, it is accompanied by extreme lethargy and exhaustion. I would constantly feel sleepy, for my energy levels had come down drastically. This is how this health issue impacts you emotionally and mentally.

Emotionally because it drains you and keeps you from doing things you want to do. Everything has to be done at a slower pace. Lethargy and sleepiness impact you mentally and socially because you don’t feel like doing much or participating much socially.

I was also facing sudden bursts of anger, maybe because of the tiredness. But this is something you can come to manage with conscious effort and by taking care of yourself.

Despite how difficult it has been sometimes, I never thought of giving up any point. I believe about 70-80% of girls in India are facing these problems, so though my case was special because of its severity and continuous resurgence, it is something that can be dealt with.

Finding a cure and a support system

Nothing can be achieved without the proper support, guidance and help from family and friends. My family was supportive of me all throughout my struggle with anaemia. There were often times when I was too lethargic to do household chores. Despite this, and my haywire sleep patterns and cribbing, they have supported me a lot. My office friends and colleagues have also been very understanding and cooperative. The people around me really took good care of me, thus making it easier for me to manage my problems and get through them.

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Dealing with anaemia involved getting injections and taking iron tablets regularly. Additionally, I had to maintain a good, proper diet which included beetroot, apples, carrots, and spinach to bring my haemoglobin level up. With these changes and regular physical exercise, I started to bounce back.

However, my menstrual issues continued. I have been facing this gynaecological problem for a long time, and as far as recovery is concerned, I have considered that it is something that I can’t entirely recover from.

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Lessons disguised as setbacks

At one point of time, my menstrual cycle had stabilized and my haemoglobin rose to a normal level—but soon it returned again with a slew of problems. The doctor identified psychological stress as the main factor. Thus I also had to make changes to my social environment, in order to reduce stress.

The covid-19 lockdown has been a blessing in disguise for me, as I don’t have to commute four hours to the office which saves me a lot of time. These days, I’m concentrating more on walking and exercising, waking up early in the morning but still taking proper rest, which is helping me a lot. This, in turn, has served as a recovery period for my entire body.

Just 15 days ago, I underwent a minor surgical procedure through which I think I can finally put my problems to rest. From here onwards I should not have problems with excessive bleeding and can perhaps, finally leave anaemia behind.

What my health journey taught me

If there is one message I would impart, it is that anaemia is nothing to panic about. Just make sure to visit your doctors regularly and take natural supplements to increase your haemoglobin levels so it doesn’t affect your life, don’t let it get out of hand. And, regarding any health issues in general, don’t procrastinate anything as far as your health is concerned! Prevention is better than cure, of course, but there is always a way to, if not to cure, to manage it.

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