An “Oh!” Moment

Today I was reflecting on the history of my knee/leg problems, starting with injuring my right leg and knee when I started an exercise program in July of 07.  I attributed this to starting with a more strenuous program than I could handle.

Why did I start an exercise program in July of 07?  Because:

  • I’d started treatment for my exercise-induced asthma, which had been limiting my ability to exercise previously….
  • I’d started treatment for my vitamin B12 deficiency and was full of energy and wanted to MOVE and DO things.

Here’s where I usually add, “Unfortunately, my muscles weren’t up to handling what I was doing.”   I’d started walking a 1/2 mile a day, working up to a mile a day, and then a mile and a half  — but apparently that was too much.

I’d also recently looked up journal entries from when I’d gone on other exercise kicks, plus other vacations that involve a lot of walking.  In 06 I had noticed feeling fatigued, had mentioned it to my ARNP,* but I’d still had a several walk-heavy vacations without injury.  I wondered how my muscles had been so atrophied in a year, how I’d been so much more sedentary.  Yes, symptoms of b12 deficiency include fatigue, depression, and balance problems….

And weight loss and weakness.  That sounds like muscle loss.   What if I hadn’t lost weight, but what if I’d lost muscle?   That might explain it.  From my diary at the time, 6 days after starting b12 supplementation:

This is getting entirely too weird.

First, I’m nowhere near as interested in meat and eggs as I was. Especially for breakfast. Suddenly I’m eating a banana and yogurt for breakfast, and steaming veggies with garlic and a little chicken for lunch. I haven’t done this in years.

Second, I’m not crashing hard in the afternoon.

Third, I’m less tired in general.

And now … I’m not as interested in caffeine … ? Note, I haven’t stopped drinking it. But instead of a minimum of 7 cans/cups, today I had 2 cans of diet Pepsi and 1 cup of coffee.   I’m craving chocolate less too.

This is all within one week.

A week later:

I feel like I’m bursting with energy and want to move and dance all the time. In reality, I’m ready to sit down – or at least stretch a bit – after an hour. Sitting still and focusing on work? Er…NOT so good. Wanna play!

So…hm. Maybe it wasn’t just that I’d been a lump. By the time I was diagnosed the lab noticed my red blood cells were notably deformed and I was pretty anemic.  I was asked if I’d lost weight, and the answer was no…but that might not mean I hadn’t lost muscle.

At least I hadn’t developed dementia.


*As noted earlier, my former ARNP listened to my concerns, checked my thyroid function, and decided it could be my history of depression or that I was overweight and should consider WLS.   She also upped my Wellbutrin prescription.   The B12 deficiency wasn’t found until I changed healthcare providers.

11 thoughts on “An “Oh!” Moment

  1. From your previous post on vitamins: “It could be that if I were thin, she’d have looked for other answers to my fatigue.”

    Not necessarily. I’m in the mid-range of “normal” BMI (not going to post more details). I’ve suffered from various GI complaints, fatigue, depression, etc. for at least 15 years (longer, if I consider the weird stomach issues I had as a child, small stature after “normal” birth size, odd rashes, etc.). I’ve seen several physicians and all eventually dismissed it as IBS after minimal testing and told me to eat more fiber. I’ve had known infertility for almost 6 years as well, and that’s been almost completely ignored. I had to diagnose myself with celiac disease late last year due to presenting with many of the classic symptoms, the family history of autoimmune disease on both sides, and a positive reaction (seriously, like night and day) to a gluten-free diet. I’m not currently a fan of modern medicine. Too many attempts to quick-fix the symptoms and very little attempt to address the root causes.

    • That sucks. I have a friend who has gone through similar, and yes, Celiac is under-diagnosed.

      I did also note that if I were thin she might’ve still just upped my antidepressant and told me to exercise more.

      • I did also note that if I were thin she might’ve still just upped my antidepressant and told me to exercise more.

        Ugh- yeah, probably. It would have gotten you out of the office faster, right? Fortunately and happily we both have our lives back. Here’s to healing and future good health! :)

  2. I had a moment like that earlier this month. I was remembering what I thought were hot flashes when I was a teenager. My hormones are pretty wacky and always have been, but the abnormal periods and other issues were always attributed to my weight. I also had some very disordered eating habits for a very long time, all through junior high and high school.

    Anyway, I finally realized that what I had experienced as a teenager probably wasn’t hot flashes, but since I wasn’t eating breakfast or lunch and yet still subjecting myself to a full day’s activity and exercise, the sudden sweats, dizziness, and weakness were probably due to my blood sugar crashing. D’oh!

  3. B12 requires gastric acid in order to be properly converted into a form that can be absorbed by the body. I suspect that some medications to treat gastric reflux may lower gastric acid levels excessively and subsequently prevent full use of B12 from foods or supplements. I applaud your efforts to get healthier. And I’m a big fan of your blog!

    • It’s known that antacids can inhibit b12 absorption, along with Metformin, Celiac disease, IBS, and stomach surgery (including WLS) and plain “decreased stomach acidity” which is fairly common in older folks.

      I don’t have gastric reflux, but it is something to keep in mind. ;)

  4. Talk about an “Oh Moment!”–when I wrote my comment about gastric acid I was, consciously, making an informative statement for whomever might happen on the information and make a connection to their own circumstance. A few hours later I realized that “whomever” was me. I have virtually all the symptoms except a “beefy red tongue”. I pulled out the package insert with my own GERD meds and, sure as shit, the warning about medication-induced B12 deficiency was right there. I’m gonna go get tested even though I normally avoid doctors. I had attributed my symptoms to obesity. Doesn’t that just fuck it all. Thanks for your post.

  5. It’s amazing how the body just knows what we need and gives us cravings until it gets what it needs. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to get optimum levels through our modern diets.
    I was very low in iron and B12 – within the minimum but not optimal. It still made me crave meat and dairy products.

    The best B12 to take is Methylcobalamin as it is the easiest kind to assimilate into our bodies and also sublingual so that it bypasses your stomach and enters your blood stream straight away. You can get up to 5000mcg tablets and I was able to get my B12 up really high very quickly using these. I do have a cheap online source if you are interested.

    I hate it when doctors suggest WLS because they seem to assume that weight gain causes us our problems rather than the other way around. When I was first put on AD’s it caused me to put on 70lbs in 3 months (even though I was barely eating) and yet I’m told its the weight causing me the depression. Depression can be caused by low thyroid and so can weight gain, high cholesterol, menstrual problems etc. Please get your thyroid function (TSH), free T4 and T3 and thyroid antibodies checked again and get a copy of the results. I had my thyroid checked and even though it was bordering on high, he didn’t seem to think there was a problem. So I had to push it and eventually got my thyroid antibodies checked and it looks like I have a thyroid auto immune disease called Hashimoto’s. So the doctor is NOW starting to listen to me and has scheduled further testing.

    Check out http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/long-and-pathetic/ to see if you have hypothyroid symptoms. Very informative site.

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