Just five months into 2014, and I’m working on my third major malady of the year. In addition to a nasty fall on the ice back in February and gallbladder surgery in April, I found myself back at the doctor’s office earlier this week. (I figure since I met my deductible months ago, I might as well visit the doctor as often as I want until December 31, right?)
For several months, I’ve been suffering from muscle fatigue and weakness. At it’s worst, I couldn’t even walk the .6-mile loop at the park without stopping two or three times to rest. By the end of our ritual evening walk, my leg muscles would be Jell-O, and I’d have to grab Dan’s arm to keep myself from toppling over.
It was disconcerting to say the least. I’m young, and—with the exception of that faulty gallbladder—have been in pretty good health. It should be nothing for me to walk a couple of miles at a leisurely pace, let alone six-tenths of one.
So I went to the doctor, described my symptoms, and asked for lab work. She ordered a comprehensive metabolic panel. When the results came in, it was pretty clear what my problem was: lack of vitamin D. The normal range for Vitamin D is somewhere between 30 and 40 ng/ml, and I maxed out a whopping 18 ng/ml.
It makes sense. For two and a half years from 2011 – 2013, I worked a job with virtually no access to daylight. (I had a 30-minute lunch break, but usually ate inside so I’d have time to actually chew my food.) I was lucky enough to land my current job, complete with a window and the freedom to go outdoors when I needed, but it wasn’t long and I was suffering through the nastiest winter of my life. After one particularly brutal series of snow and ice storms, I slipped and bounced my head off the pavement. Obviously, I was reluctant to go outside or walk to work on unshoveled sidewalks for a few weeks after that. Then there were the gallstone episodes and the surgery. I didn’t feel like leaving the apartment for much of anything—particularly in those last painful weeks before the doctor cut me open.
And my diet. Ugh! We’ve been so overwhelmed with doctor’s visits and surgeries and trips back to Indianapolis since we moved to Champaign that we’ve been ordering dinner in. A lot. So my diet hasn’t exactly helped me compensate for the lack of D-generating sunshine.
From what I gather, by the time most people experience the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency, they’ve been operating at a deficit for quite a while.
So, the good news is that I’m taking supplements my doctor prescribed and spending 20 minutes a day soaking up some sun. And even though it could be weeks or months before I’m back to my normal self, I already feel better knowing what’s wrong and that there’s a simple solution for it.