You do care, right? Or at the very least, you’re interested in learning about my health woes so you don’t make the same mistakes. Hey, I’m OK with that. I’m a giver.
Not only did I have a big area of skin removed from my back last week, but on the same day I had an appointment with my primary care doctor as well. During the appointment, I mentioned that I have been feeling so tired all the time, even when I try to get enough sleep, and nothing seems to help. She decided that it would be best to have bloodwork done to check if something might be imbalanced and causing my fatigue. Tuesday really was human pincushion day.
I expected that maybe my thyroid was out-of-whack, which was why I was tired and struggling to not gain weight. Or maybe I was anemic.
The results were back on Friday, and for the most part they were normal. Except for one line of the report: Vitamin D. Last year when she checked my vitamin D levels they were very slightly low, and she recommended including more foods with vitamin D in my diet and taking a multivitamin. I’ve been doing that as much as possible, but the new test results showed my vitamin D levels were much lower than last year, outside of the recommended levels and into “deficient” classification.
I’m not quite sure how my vitamin D levels managed to go even lower after I started taking a multivitamin more regularly. But if it’s related to feeling tired, well, I can’t question the results. I’m sluggish all the time. Exercise will give me energy, but finding the energy to get started is hard. And once I do start moving, my muscles want to give out on me far sooner than they should.
Since getting the blood results, I’ve been reading more about vitamin D and it’s link to different health issues. I knew that being deficient in vitamin D could lead to weak bones, but there’s also solid research linking it to muscle weakness, metabolic disorders (including weight gain, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and having difficulty losing weight), and fatigue. Huh. I didn’t realize vitamin D was the super-vitamin. Look out B-12 – vitamin D is coming to take you out of the spotlight.
I now must focus on getting more vitamin D. And this is where it gets ironic. Vitamin D supplementation is good, but the best way too get vitamin D is from the sun. Spending time in the sunshine is the easiest method for building up vitamin D in the body – the skin soaks in the sunshine, which triggers the body to make it’s own vitamin D in large quantities. Supplements work, but the body’s natural production is far more efficient and requires less time to raise vitamin D levels.
So spending more time with my skin exposed to sunlight would be a big help. However, wearing sunscreen blocks 95% of the vitamin D production. Which means to get my vitamin D sun therapy, I’d have to be in the sun for 15-30 minutes a few days a week without sunscreen. But because I’m a high risk for skin cancer, sunscreen is a must for being outside.
I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.
(And we won’t even discuss the fact that 15-30 minutes in the sun without sunscreen would have me a painful shade of pinkish-red, because this pale girl gets a pink flush just thinking about the sun.)
My doctor knows sunlight therapy isn’t an option for me, and didn’t even recommend it. I’m now on 5000 IU of vitamin D a day for at least the next six months. That seems like a lot to me. For reference, the average recommended daily value is 400-600 IU a day. She believes that getting my vitamin D levels raised should give me more energy and an overall better feeling of wellness. I’m willing to try just about anything to give me the energy to get more done.
I’ve been taking my supplements (they’re itty-bitty liqui-gels, so they’re easy to take) for five days now and I’m not sure when I’m supposed to notice any difference. I’ve been more awake the past couple of days, but that could be just from having the kids at camp and not being distracted when I work. I’ll re-assess in a few weeks to see if I think it’s making a difference.
I wouldn’t be surprised if more people have lower vitamin D levels now that sun safety has become such an important topic. We’re all wearing more sunscreen and trying to cover up in the sun to avoid skin cancer, but are we possibly setting ourselves up for other problems? I doubt many adults drink a lot of vitamin D fortified milk, and there aren’t a lot of foods with high levels of it.
Here’s hoping this is the key to what’s been dragging me down.
The incision from having my mole and surrounding area removed is healing nicely. I’ve had to remind myself not to twist or bend too much, or it pulls at the stitches and hurts.
A few people have asked what it looks like. I’m not going to insert the photo in this post, because I respect that there are some squeamish folks out there who really DON’T want to see it. But if you do want to check it out, you can click here to see the incision. It’s about 3″ long with several stitches, just an inch or so away from my spine. It hurts if I lean back on it the wrong way, and sometimes the stitches poke me. I can’t wait to get them out next week.
The photo is, for me, a fantastic reminder of why sunscreen is important. If you or someone you care about has any moles that you’re concerned with, the image of my incision can be great motivation for making an appointment with a dermatologist.
Early screening saves lives – this will leave a nasty scar on my back, but I also feel good that we caught it before it had any chance to turn into cancer.
Edited to add: Just in case you think I’m endorsing the brand of vitamin D in the photo – liqui-gels were recommended, and this brand was selected because I recognized the name and it was on sale when I was at the store. I mean, I’m happy with it so far, but it’s not sponsored in any way.