Know yourself

I’m a regular platelet donor and try to get along to the blood donor centre once a month. I say “try to” as I’m sometimes forced to take a break for a few months due to my iron levels being ever so slightly too low. This has happened a few times now and has been puzzling me for a while.

I eat my greens, red meat, eggs, drink red wine and — on my mother’s insistence — have been known to take iron supplements. All of this has been to no avail.

After the last occurrence back in August, I did some extra research. It turns out that caffeine can inhibit the body’s absorption of iron so I’ve reduced my intake since September’s monthly challenge to cut it out completely.

It looks like this has done the trick. My iron count before this evening’s donation was the highest it’s been for a long time. I had a chat with the staff about this and they also mentioned that taking vitamin C with a meal can help absorb the iron in food.

Hopefully this knowledge means that I can get back to an uninterrupted schedule of giving.

March: Shopping Independently

I don’t mean “independent” as in going to the shops all by myself — I’ve been doing that for quite a while now along with dressing myself and packing my own bags when I travel.

Edinburgh is blessed with a multitude of fantastic independent shops; the city is fortunate to have them. Like a lot of people, I think I’m guilty of overlooking them in the name of convenience a little too often.

This month, I’ll not be giving my custom to any chain shops or supermarkets.

First week down

So it’s Friday evening, my daughter is asleep (and will remain so for the next 14 hours on her current run of form), and it’s been a pretty full-on week at work. Usually I’d have already had a beer at my desk before leaving the office and would now be enjoying a glass of wine, gin and tonic or a Negroni. But tonight, nothing.

I don’t drink all that much — let me rephrase; all that frequently — these days. Most evenings are spent without any alcohol. Going a month won’t be any real hardship to be honest.

Last month I purchased a Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor, mainly out of curiosity rather than concern. I wasn’t too surprised though to find that my blood pressure was on the higher side of normal.

I’ll be interested to see if this period of abstinence makes any difference.

February: No Alcohol

Somewhat inevitably, one of my monthly challenges for 2016 was always going to be a period of sobriety. Also inevitably, I was always going to choose the shortest month in which to tackle this particular instalment. Annoyingly, this is a leap year and February will have 29 days so I’ll be dry for an extra 24 hours but at least it’s still two days shorter than all of those brave Dryathletes have just had to endure.