So, if you follow me on Twitter or if you know me in real life and see me at all, you’ll know I’ve been not very well for the past-I don’t even know how long. Three months or so? I’ve had all sorts of symptoms and I’ve had blood tests, doctors appointments, more doctors appointments, more blood tests, a hospital appointment involving more blood tests, and then a four week wait for results-but I finally have a diagnosis. I have a vitamin D deficiency. I knew nothing about this or vitamin d in general but (somewhat predictably) I’ve been reading up on it and actually, this affects 1 in 5 adults. If this is something affecting so many then 20% of my readers at least will find this useful so why not write about it.
Our bodies get vitamin D from two difference sources: from sunlight, and from food. Most of us get enough in the summer months from 30 minutes outside 2-3 times a week, with our face and forearms uncovered and no sun cream on. Generally if you go for a walk at lunchtime in your t-shirt you’re probably okay. Foods like red meat, egg (yolk) some cereals (those that are fortified) and a few other things, But, this isn’t enough for everyone and some of us are deficient in vitamin D (I’m also low in calcium, my doctor thinks this is linked) So, I’ve been prescribed very strong tablets to top up my stores, I have to take a huge dose (40,000 % of the recommended daily amount) once a week for the next eight weeks, and then I need to take a vitamin D and calcium supplement I can buy over the counter from then on. I think the plan is to always take them-fine by me.
My symptoms started out with a very, very dry mouth. I initially thought I was dehydrated, drank three litres of water for a few days, still had a dry mouth and then convinced myself I had diabetes. After booking a doctors appointment for three weeks time I went to the pharmacy in a panic, they did a finger prick test and found I wasn’t diabetic-always good. I then developed a really painful, cracked tongue and couldn’t eat so I booked an emergency appointment and was diagnosed with oral thrush and given an anti fungal medicine, which made that go away. The doctor booked me in for my first set of bloods at the same time, telling me to keep my appointment in two and a half weeks to collect the results. So far, so good.
I went to my appointment expecting my bloods to be clear, and to be told I had low iron-because I’d realised I was tired all the time despite getting lots of sleep, I felt weak and dizzy and just generally rubbish, and I still had the dry mouth. The doctor said my iron was slightly low but not a worry (I’m taking a multivitamin now to help that) and that actually I had higher than normal inflammatory markers. He asked if I get joint pain, if I have dry eyes and if my hearing isn’t quite perfect. And a lightbulb went off, because I’ve had pain in my joints for about three years, I’ve had dry eyes for about the same-I put the pain down to ageing and being a bit overweight and the eyes down to laser surgery in the past. I’ve always been slightly harder of hearing than most people. My doctor, though, wanted to do further blood tests, so he booked me in.
I had the second set of blood tests and the inflammatory markers were still high, so my doctor referred me to Rheumatology at the hospital, worried I had an autoimmune disease. Turns out I don’t have that (the hospital tested a urine sample on the day to rule that out) and they weren’t massively worried about what was going on with me-I have full range of movement, slight hypermobility in my joints and no swelling. They wanted me to have bloods done just to rule out some other things, but said they thought I was fine. I left the hospital a bit disappointed, really-the joint pain is something I’ve been struggling with and I feel lousy overall, and the dry mouth is not fun. I expected to have to go back to my gp and ask for further tests or something. And then, I got a phone call.
This was three weeks on, so slightly quicker than the hospital said I’d hear. My gp told me that the hospital had picked up on a vitamin D deficiency and that I needed to go and get these tablets. So I took them the same day, and since then I’ve taken them weekly. Initially, after taking my first dose, I felt awful. I had a terrible headache for about four days, my joints were worse, my mouth was the same. I think my body was readjusting to the vitamin D. This happened for the first three or four weeks (of a ten week dose) and I was about to go back to the doctors-and then I started to feel a little better. Since then I’ve finished the ten week course and I’m now on a daily doseage of over the counter vitamin D, bought from Holland and Barrett. Week nine gave me a salivary gland infection to add to my list of ailments, this is vitamin d related and was quickly treated with antibiotics, but not a lot of fun.
If I’m completely honest, I still have joint pain-especially in my fingers, shoulders, and often in my legs. I still feel tired all the time no matter how much sleep I get. I think I might always feel this poorly now. I’m going to see how I get on with the daily doseage, and if I don’t feel any better soon I’m going to go back to the doctors. I hope I don’t have to feel this poorly forever!