One of the symptoms of many people diagnosed with fibromyalgia is a low level of Vitamin D. This entire story is going to sound a bit fairy-talish, but I swear it's true.
When I went to my rheumatologist in February, we started off on the wrong foot. She was under the impression that because my last doctor had treated me with painkillers I was expecting the same from her. Personally, I was in so much pain at that point I didn't care what the hell she gave me. Once she realized I really wanted a diagnosis it took her about five minutes or less to determine I did, indeed, have fibromyalgia. She ordered bloodwork, including a test of my vitamin D level. She explained that people with low vitamin D often suffer from exhaustion and pain. As a type 2 diabetic, I'm so used to people drawing my blood I just hold out an arm and look away.
Sure enough, my vitamin D level was about six, I believe. Healthy levels are around thirty or higher. So yeah, you could say I was running a bit low. Let me tell you, one thing I've figured out with this fibro thing is that I can be a real bitch when I'm feeling bad. It's kind of fortunate that my mother insists on accompanying me, because I probably would have been tossed out of more than one office by now if I didn't just walk out on my own. So anyway, the doctor prescribes me this massive dose of vitamin D to take twice a week, along with calcium--1200 to 1500 mg--each day.
At first I hemmed and hawed. I balked at the emerald green pills. They were pretty, yes, but what the hell? Now I have a vitamin deficiency TOO? What other ways were these doctors going to tell me I suck? I felt like my body was betraying me yet again. It already made too much insulin that my cells wouldn't use correctly; it was attacking itself and causing my nerves to go whacko; and now this. It couldn't even absorb a simple damn vitamin. Well, fuck that. I don't have to take the damn D. Just you watch.
So I took it, but only when I felt like it, and only when I remembered it. Sometimes I took the calcium with it but more often I skipped it. Have you SEEN those calcium pills? They're like the size of an enema and I was supposed to swallow TWO of them each DAY. Shit.
My next visit to the rheumatologist went even less fantastically than the first. She noted all the ways I wasn't cooperating with her plan. I crossed my arms and stared at the wall. She reviewed my low vitamin D level. I chewed my lip and listened to my mom ask questions and write information down. I wanted to send her a silent signal--don't write this bitch's information down! I don't want it or need it. She doesn't care about me anyway. She doesn't understand how I feel.
Probably not. But the reality is that she doesn't have to understand how I feel to give me timely and accurate medical advice. And in the two months since I've seen her, a lot has happened. My bad days are getting less bad. My tolerance for certain things is growing. My willingness to cooperate has grown. And I'm taking vitamin D every Wednesday and Sunday, along with Calcium and Vitamin D-3 every day. And you know what? I do feel better.
This past week I saw an endocrinologist who wanted to test my vitamin D levels. I'm actually looking forward to finding out if they've improved. In addition, he's testing my cortisol level. Cortisol is the stress hormone released by the brain whenever a person is in a stressful situation. For people who suffer from chronic pain or stress, cortisol is consistently dumped through the body. The damages of cortisol have been studied primarily in young children; cortisol can lessen brain growth and literally alter development. I wonder if cortisol is part of the reason I forget so many things these days?
At any rate, make sure you're getting your D. I'm not a huge milk drinker nor do I enjoy hot days outside. I do enjoy yogurt and a few types of cheese as well as coffee drinks and ice cream (I mean, come on! Who doesn't enjoy ice cream??). But soak it up and eat it up; not only is it good for your bones, it's good for your mental and emotional health too.