I haven’t posted for a few days because I have been in miserable pain for about three days now and have had trouble sleeping because of it. So my usual ability to string together coherent, and at times, aesthetically pleasing sentences has been at an all-time low.
However, I finally got to see my doctor and found out the results of the huge array of blood tests she ordered about three weeks ago.
It turns out that my glucose tolerance is great, my liver is fine, kidneys are fine, I have elevated HDL cholesterol (which seems to be a genetic predisposition) and my B12 levels are great. (All those whole grains and leafy greens.) The thyroid seems to be fine, gallbladder is great, and all of that.
There were two troubling abnormal levels. One was my sedimentation rate was slightly elevated, indicating that there was inflammation somewhere in my body (as my doctor said, “The fact that you are in constant pain tells us that!) and the other was my vitamin D level. It was very low. Incredibly low, in fact, indicating a severe vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is necessary for proper muscle functioning, cell growth and division, and endocrine and brain function.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include muscle pain, spasms and cramps, extreme fatigue, depression, mood swings, brain fogginess and disrupted sleep.
Oh, wow. The exact symptoms that I have.
As Mr. Spock would say, “Fascinating.”
So, I am on a once a week high-dose vitamin D supplement. Dr. Ford, who quite eloquently noted that I could probably sit outside naked all day and not make up the deficiency as fast as I would need to, said that I should start to feel better within a couple of weeks. If the pain does not reduce and my sleep does not improve by then, I am supposed to call her. We will continue the supplementation, but we will also look into trying to help me sleep better.
Can I say how much I love my doctor? She’s very careful, sensible and sharp–she was way ahead of me when it comes to checking out all of my symptoms and trying to get to the bottom of them. She seems to think that I may have fibromyalgia, especially considering the fact that two family members are similarly diagnosed, but she doesn’t want to make that diagnosis–which is not a clinical one–there is no test to definitively give that diagnosis–until she has carefully checked and rejected all other possible diagnoses. It is still possible that I have fibro which is being exacerbated by low levels of vitamin D, but it is just as likely that it is the deficiency itself which is causing the symptoms. So, she is careful and judicious in her treatment and she is very respectful of the fact that while I am getting really tired of being in pain and weary all the time, she also knows I don’t want to just lightly start taking drugs to try and fix every symptom all at once.
I guess we are a good fit with each other.
Now, let’s talk about vitamin D again–interestingly, it was a longtime reader here at Tigers & Strawberries who sent me email telling me about the effects of a deficiency. Maureen–I don’t think I ever emailed you back and thanked you, but thank you–though I never got a chance to tell my doctor to test my vitamin D levels because she was already on the case and had ordered the test along with every other test in the world! She is a sharp one–up on the latest research and all!
And she told me the same things that Maureen told me–that vitamin D deficiency causes the exact symptoms from which I suffer. So, thank you again, Maureen!
I will close this post with an appeal to my readers. If you suffer from chronic pain and fatigue, please ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels. You may be deficient, and if you are, it is easily enough corrected. A lot of research is currently ongoing which points to the importance of vitamin D in the proper functioning of our bodies and many of these studies have shown that a great many Americans have low levels of vitamin D in their bloodstreams. The long term effects of such a deficiency can be severe and serious–elevated cholesterol levels leading to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis among other nasty conditions and diseases.
I wonder why so many folks seem to be suffering from vitamin D deficiency. It could be that The American Cancer Society has succeeded all too well in their message to use sunscreen in order to avoid melanoma, or it could be that Americans have become sedentary house-dwellers who rarely go outside. Or it could be both.
Or, it could be diet-related–folks may not be eating many eggs for fear of high cholesterol, or fatty fish for fear of mercury poisoning, or milk because of a fear of fat.
It is puzzling, though.
Anyway, we will see what happens. I will report back on how I feel here after two weeks of mega dosing on prescription-strength vitamin D. In the meantime, I will keep eating my leafy greens, eggs and go back to drinking milk while I am at it, and will endeavor to be out in the sun as much as someone as pale as I am can be safely. (A tip for those of us who are very pale–sunscreen free sunning is safer in the morning and evening hours–when the sun is at its peak between the hours of 11 am and 2 pm, please cover up or wear sunscreen or go inside.)
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