I Eat Ice: One Anemic’s Story

posted in: Day In The Life 3
Though ice wins in the end, I have a difficult time choosing what I want most in this picture: flowers, adorable sugar bowl, espresso, or perfect ice.
I have a difficult time choosing what I want most in this picture: flowers, adorable sugar bowl, espresso, or perfectly-sized ice. Wait, no: ice by a mile. Image: Wikipedia.

There are 400 different strains of anemia and they are on a scale of really bad to less-bad in terms of symptoms, long-lasting effects, seriousness, upkeep, etc. I have iron-deficiency anemia. This affects 7% of American women. It’s so nice to be so special.

The strain I’ve got produces an odd behavior that could be much, much odder: pica. Pica is compulsively craving and eating non-food items for longer than a month or so. People with pica have been known to eat clay, ashes, dirt, sand, metal, and all variety of things you are definitely not supposed to eat. And not only do these folks eat these things, they crave them. They seriously think to themselves, “Man, I could really go for some gravel right now.” It’s not so strange to me, actually. Because 44% of the people with my strain of anemia have the same desires, except our pica makes us want to eat ice. There’s a name for this and it’s pagophagia, the compulsive desire to eat ice.

I buy huge bags of ice when I go for groceries. I have a huge bag of ice in my freezer right now because I finished the other bag last night. I’d say I go through a frat party-sized bag of ice every three days. Boy, do I love ice. I love to fill a glass with cubes and put a little liquid in there and then ca-runch as I write and sew and so on. The satisfaction I get from eating ice is impossible to explain. I just like it. And I’m careful: I don’t crack through glass after glass with huge chomps. It’s kind of a suck-n-gently grate kind of thing. (I’ve just realized that fellow ice-eaters would totally love to jam on the kinds of ice we like best, the best places to get great ice, and our methods of chewing.)

Why do iron-deficient people do this? The Mayo Clinic says it may have something to do with inflammation in the mouth (I feel nothing of the kind, but what do I know about my mouth?) but no one knows a thing and everyone’s willing to admit that. Pagophagia is straight up weird. It would be nice to hear that from your doctor.

I share my pagophagia in hopes that it will confirm for someone clicking around the Internet with a Big Gulp cup of ice that yes, this is a thing, and no, you’re not the only one. The discovery here is similar to my discovery that my fear of ferns is a real phobia shared with one of the most important figures of the 20th century.

People are so weird.

3 Responses

  1. […] My ice-eating has become almost compulsive. In the past two weeks especially. I crave ice all day. It’s so weird. I wake up in the morning excited about my first glass of ice. It’s never been like this. (I thought I was just being a weirdo.) […]

  2. […] Because I chomped ice cubes for like two months straight before my labs showed my anemia was so bad I was .5 ice cubes away from the blinkin’ emergency […]

  3. […] a nightmare, all of it. I even bought a vitamin supplement! To take with my iron and my calcium! I took if for almost two months! No change. Zero. I was a wimp as wimpy-haired as […]

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