A couple of weeks ago I sent some blood off in the post and found out the next day why I feel so zonked a lot of the time; really low iron levels! Beats waiting for a few days to get a doctors appointment, then coming back to see the nurse then waiting four days (or more!) for the results! I did my own at-home blood test with Forth with Life an at home blood test kit which was easier than I ever imagined!
To start with you fill out a short form on the Forth with Life website once you’ve decided which of the available tests you’d like to have, this is just basic info about your health, address and any medical issues. You then order the test which will arrive speedily in the post mine was next day – I ordered in the morning. The box easily slipped through the letter box so no trekking to parcel collection offices would ever be needed! Inside the box was an instruction leaflet, a vial for collecting your sample, three finger prickers, stickers with your details on and a prepaid bag to send your sample back in the post.
Collecting your sample is easy but you MUST read and then re-read the instructions, as you should send off your sample Monday-Thursday to ensure it arrives at the lab when it is manned! My kit arrived on a Friday so I held onto it till the following week to do, then waiting till I had a day without the kids bustling around in the mornings to take my blood without them worrying about what I was doing! To prepare myself for using the finger prickers I did a quick kitchen clean, so I was upright as advised and had my hands in and out of warm water washing pots! I then had a cup of tea and got on with it! The instructions say warm water can help blood flow in your fingers but that you may need to prick more than one finger to get enough blood. I managed to fill the whole vial using the blood droplets from one little prick on my little finger, and didn’t spill a drop! Not sure how I managed that but I was impressed! I carefully wrapped and then binned the last two finger prickers that I didn’t use, though thinking about it perhaps I should have sent them back to be disposed of securely, I will remember that for next time!
Once my vial was full to the indicated line I popped a plaster on the tiny cut on the side of my finger, put the lid on the vial and then labelled it. I then signed the form and put both of these in the pre-paid postage bag and nipped to the post box with it, as well as logging on to the portal to let them know my sample was on the way The next evening I had an email telling me my results were ready! So about 36 hours from taking the sample to getting the results – I was amazed!
The results portal is easy to use, with each category giving you a health score out of 100 and then this is drilled down further once you click to go into Cardiovascular, Kidney, Liver, Vitamins etc. It was immediately obvious to me that I needed to check my Vitamins & Minerals results as this was 67%, and my Cardiovascular score at 40%!
For a month prior to taking the blood test results I had been following a ketogenic diet, and my body was in ‘ketosis’ due to a high fat, very low carb diet. Now that diet actually helped me to lose almost a stone in weight, I felt like I had more energy and also work up in the mornings feeling a lot less groggy (which I am putting down to not overloading on carbs and not eating anything processed or sugary) BUT that diet was the thing that was causing my Blepharitis (an eye condition) to become a lot worse. So I think it may have been as a result of that eating pattern that my cholesterol levels were raised. I will be doing another test in four months time and will have been eating a healthy balanced diet by then so hopefully they will be lower.
The Iron levels however (ferritin) were really worrying, at 17.8, where normal is between 20-150 – this completely explains why I have been feeling so lethargic and sleepy, I put it down to coming off the ketogenic diet but it’s clearly more than that – as I would have been getting a lot of iron from the red meat I was eating, plus in spinach and things. I have been anaemic in the past, during pregnancies and in my 20’s but I didn’t think I was now. I have made an appointment to see my GP to see if it is just low iron or also anaemia (which is a reduction in red blood cells) but in the mean time I have started taking an iron supplement daily in the hopes that this helps perk me up a bit! But without taking the Forth with Life test I’d have had no idea and possibly go a lot worse before I realised something was up!
Along with the ‘baseline’ test I did there are others, hormone tests (for both males and females) full work ups and nutritional tests, all giving you results with a super fast turnaround right there on your screen, so you can track them, show them to your doctors and refer to them at any time. I loved that each thing tested came with a score and a graph to show you where in the range your score sits, along with an explanation of what this measures and why it is important. You can see all the tests Forth with Life offer here.