Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 301--Kids, drink your milk and go play in the sunshine.

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.

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