Give Me a “D”…the rest of the story

I think I just had a Paul Harvey moment….

I am going to try to keep this short…but that is a relative term. You need some background info. Also you need to know that the information below comes from my own personal experience. I am NOT a medical expert. I do NOT pretend to be. IF you have questions and concerns about your own health after reading my story, PLEASE consult with your personal doctor.

First of all, I have been tired for YEARS. Many of you can relate. Babies don’t sleep. Toddlers get sick. Dishes need washing…as does the dirty laundry. Therefore we women often do not get the sleep that we need. Sometimes that comes out of necessity (sick toddler in the middle of the night). Sometimes it comes from our own martyrdom (staying up to clean something that could have waited). When my kids were very young I kept telling myself that I would “catch up” on sleep when they got older. That being tired was only temporary. Isn’t that what the “experts” and even other mothers were saying? As the kids grew older, I was still tired. However, I had become a light sleeper….gone were the days of sleeping through ANYTHING! I assumed it was part of motherhood….So I wasn’t sleeping through the night. Any little noise would awaken me, and then I had a very difficult time falling back asleep. I tried all the things that those “experts” say about sleeping: stop eating 3 hrs. before bedtime, go to bed/get up at the same time, no caffeine or exercise near bedtime, etc., etc., etc.! I still couldn’t sleep. About this same time, I was starting to gain weight. The “vanity” weight that I had kept on after my son was born had not bothered my doctor. I would complain. He would pretty much tell me to get over myself! (Although he would adjust my thyroid medication as needed, and I would pray that it would cause the pounds to magically slip off!) This weight was different. I was exercising. I was eating healthier than I had ever eaten. The doctor suddenly told me to lose weight. I was by this time pushing 60 lbs. heavier than before I got pregnant with my son. (DID I JUST TYPE THAT FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD TO SEE??? YIKES!!!….but you guys won’t tell, right?) The doctor also told me that I was not going to lose the weight until I started SLEEPING!

Fast forward: We moved from the south to Upstate NY. Talk about a shock to my system. I had lived my entire 37+ years (my age at that time) within 3 miles of where I was raised! Now add to being tired, being depressed. Not overwhelming, suicidal depression…but my joy was gone. I lived with that (I don’t recommend that…I’m just stubborn that way!). Then a couple of years later (slow learner, I am), I started having NASTY mood swings. Really! I couldn’t even stand myself. I KNEW I was being hateful and UGLY (in the southern sense of the word), but I could not stop it. Losing my joy is one thing….sucking the joy out of others? quite a different demon! So off to see a doctor (not to be confused with MY doctor in the south)….actually I ended up seeing a doctor’s assistant who put me on a low-dose of an anti-depressant. I’m not sure WHY (cause-effect or coincidence), but after I started taking the anti-depressant I started SLEEPING at night…..not quite like I slept when I was a teenager, but still….MUCH improved sleep! But I was still tired. About this same time, the dr.’s assistant noticed that my thyroid tests were coming back with some odd results. I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism for YEARS (see the hint in the last paragraph). Additional tests were ordered. The doctor with the practice was consulted. She thought 1) that my thyroid could probably be blamed for at least my more recent weight gains and 2) that I should see an endocrinologist. Unfortunately, around here endocrinologists are RARE…as in LONG waiting periods to get an appt. As in…it was over a YEAR later before I was tentatively scheduled for an appointment. Then 4 DAYS before that appointment, the office calls to inform me that it had to be rescheduled and it would be 6 MORE MONTHS before they could see me. I did NOT get mean, BUT I told them as nicely as possible, that I COULD NOT, WOULD NOT wait. So they “squeezed” me into the schedule 1 1/2 months later. By this time, my days consisted of getting out of bed, making my way to the coffeepot (thank God for caffeine) and then to the sofa…feeling like I needed a nap DESPITE sleeping all night! I was HUNGRY all the time. Seriously, I would eat and 15 minutes later I felt like I hadn’t eaten in many, many HOURS. I was craving sugar. This was probably my body desperately trying to get energy. A couple of times during the day, I would have bursts of energy that would last from 15 minutes to an hour. (temporary sugar rush???) During those times, I would do the necessary things of life…laundry, dishes, cook meals…..all the while, saying not nice things to my thyroid gland. What? You don’t talk to your thyroid gland? You would if you thought it had turned against you. Needless to say….I gained even more weight….eating constantly…especially JUNK food and convenience foods will do that to you! (I usually cook most meals from scratch…convenience foods are usually only a treat or used when life is total chaos….but I just did NOT feel like cooking!)

FINALLY, appointment day arrives! And let me just say that in hindsight, I should not have been driving those couple of months leading up to the appointment. Yes, I was that tired! I imagine that I was on or near the same level as an intoxicated driver. I did LIMIT my time behind the wheel…but really I should have stayed off the roads!!! Back to appointment day…..She listened patiently to my medical history…asked more questions….took notes…re-checked previous lab results. Showed me the numbers when the initial concerns that my thyroid was going even wackier than normal…they had not gradually changed, they had DRASTICALLY changed over a short period of time despite the family doctor altering the dosage of my meds. HOWEVER, my most recent tests (over several months) had all been normal. EVEN the labs taken right before the drastic drop in energy. She told me that she was going to change the formulation of medicine…that sometimes lab results and their numbers do not translate into improved symptoms…every BODY (actual, physical BODY) is different. And then she asks if I have been checked for a Vitamin D deficiency…that though my thyroid could cause many of my symptoms (and of course, with my history that is the first thing not only I, but the previous docs and assistants, would think of), so could a Vitamin D deficiency. I told her that I was already taking a supplement WHEN I COULD REMEMBER to add them to my pill sorter each week (yes…after nearly 20 YEARS of daily thyroid medication and 2 years of an anti-depressant, if they aren’t in the pill sorter, I forget to take them!). I had starting taking Vitamin D, because it just seemed logical…girl from south moves north and avoids going outside when it is cold….and she is almost always COLD!

Three days after my appointment, I check my mail to find a letter from the doctor. Imagine my SHOCK when a prescription for 50,000 iu of Vitamin D fell into my lap. Now I only take one pill at that dosage once per week for 12 weeks total…then back to the lab to be retested….BUT my supplements I HAD been taking were a mere 400 iu AND a different formulation of D…..SO DO NOT….let me repeat: DO NOT try to take that much Vitamin D from an over-the-counter supplement!!!! If you now suspect that you may have a deficiency, make an appointment with your doctor!!!

I could not believe how much better I felt just 2 days after taking that 1st pill. I still got tired more quickly than “normal” (or what I think normal should be), but I was getting stuff done. With each week’s pill, I felt a little better. I just took my 4th pill a few days ago. WOW!!! It wasn’t until I started treatment that I realized just how bad that I have felt for YEARS!!! YEARS!!!

I confessed to my weight problems above (and now I’m finding the delete button VERY tempting). Since learning of my deficiency, I have been doing some reading about Vitamin D. It is thought that a Vitamin D deficiency can cause unexplained weight gain. I do not KNOW if that is what caused me to gain weight. I have not yet lost any weight. However, I am not hungry as often. I am satisfied with less food. And I am once again CRAVING healthy foods instead of sugar and other junk foods. I also am able to exercise again. While I am tempted to jump into a full routine (especially since my improved eating habits have not yet produced results), it really has been MONTHS since I did a long workout. Therefore, I am easing myself back into a routine. Because the last thing I need is an injury!

There is so much more that I could say….but that will have to be enough for now. I have some LIVING to do!

Until next time….