Nice tan!

When I was in my early forties (about two dozen years ago) I would get the occasional person asking me if I had recently been away on vacation to a sunny place, as they thought that I had a nice tan. Most of the time, I hadn’t been away on vacation, so I wondered why I might look a bit tanned. However, I didn’t get too concerned about it, as I liked my “tanned” appearance.

During this time a friend of mine had just embarked on a new career, selling Life Insurance. He told me that he thought that he could save me some money on Life Insurance if I switched over to his company from the one I had been with for many years. So, wanting to help him get off to a good start in his new career, I decided to give it a shot. He quoted me about $60/ month for an equivalent amount of insurance, which was a savings of about $10/ month. So, I submitted an application through him for a new insurance policy. A couple of weeks later, they sent a nurse to our house to take blood samples, check my blood pressure and other such things. She told me that, pending the results of the blood tests, I would receive confirmation from the insurance company in about 3 weeks, after which time I would be covered by them and could cancel my existing Life Insurance policy. However, it took almost 2 months before I finally heard back from them. All they said was that my monthly premium would be $112, rather than $60!

When I spoke to my doctor about it, he said “Get me the test results from the insurance company and we’ll get to the bottom of it.” So, I asked the insurance company to forward them direct to my doctor. After he sent me for more tests, he diagnosed me as having Hemochromatosis, which I had never heard of before. My serum ferritin level was over 1800 ng/mL, so I started a regime of having blood taken once a week, and then once every two weeks until my ferritin level was down to less than 100 ng/mL. My two children had DNA tests done on them, which confirmed that they had inherited the two mutated genes from me and their mother, whose DNA test indicated that she was a carrier.

I now have monthly blood tests done to monitor my ferritin level and give blood four to five times a year at Canadian Blood Services to keep my ferritin level under 70, where I feel most comfortable. I shudder to think what may have happened if my friend had not embarked on his new career and I had not had the tests required by the insurance company. I might not be alive today! And my children would not know that they have the disease either.

1 in 300 Canadians are at risk of iron overload, yet most are unaware of the condition. Our self-assessment tool can help determine if you or your family members are at risk for hereditary hemochromatosis.