Today's specialist went over all the tests I've had, including a blood count that was done in his office today, and agrees with me that the most likely source of the skewed numbers is the longterm NSAID use. Which is good news, because the after-effects of that are a lot more easily corrected than some other conditions I can think of.
However, to be sure of this, he's sending me to a GI doctor, plus I have another couple of bloodworks slated for 3 and 6 weeks from now.
Today's numbers showed marked improvements, so the iron pills are doing their job. That's good news, because apparently not everyone metabolizes the iron well. Fortunately, in my case that doesn't appear to be an issue.
On the "improved iron counts through better diet" front, we have fresh spinach (which I love) in the house, and consuming red meat has been translated into "eat cheeseburgers". I even put spinach ON the cheeseburger as a topping. :-)
So now we've managed to work pizza AND burgers into an iron-rich diet. I'm telling you, if I can get someone to create iron-fortified M&Ms, I could make billions selling this as a diet. Really.
Tomorrow's my appointment with the Primary Care Physician, at which time I'm definitely going to ask what else I can take for pain if NSAIDs are off the list. I'm hoping acetaminophen or something else that's easily available will be OK to take.