Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reclaiming My Health

Can I just take a nap before hiking the rest of the way back?

Last fall I started experiencing major fatigue.  As in wake up tired, fall asleep while teaching the kids school, take a nap every afternoon, and go to bed early every night tired.  It basically wrecked my life for months.  Take the kids to the park?  I'm too tired.  Go to the grocery store?  Just let me chug some caffeine and hope for the best.  Clean my house?  Just let me take a nap first.

This was not normal for me, or for anyone really.  I went to my doctor with a  list of blood work I wanted her to run.  I had her check my thyroid, my iron, and my vitamin D.  My vitamin D was a little low and my thyroid labs all came back in the lab-normal range.  My iron was right at 12.0, the bottom of the range.  

I was stumped.  And pretty disheartened.  The only thing worse than being told there's nothing wrong with you when you KNOW there is something wrong with you is being told there's something seriously wrong with you (like cancer or some other horrible disease).  

I lost my appendix in November.  For a while I thought maybe that had something to do with the fatigue, but three months later I was still exhausted.  In March I had another surgery and ended up with an infection that put me back in the hospital for 3 days.  Again, I waited to recover but a few months later, I still felt terrible.  

I asked my doctor to run some new blood work.  This time we found a winner.  Ferritin.  Ferritin is your iron reserves.  While my iron level was still normal at 12.0, my ferritin was tanked.  Almost non-existent.  I started taking large doses of iron daily.  Two months later I was retested and my ferritin went from 6 to 11.  Optimal is over 50.  The iron did help me feel a little better, but just barely.  I was able to accomplish a few more things than before, but I was still dragging.

During this time I kept doing research trying to find the thing I was missing.  I sent away for a cortisol spit test to check for adrenal fatigue.  Yes, it did show that my cortisol was below range in the middle of the day, but it wasn't so far off that I should feel this bad.

A few weeks ago I had repeat labs down to check my ferritin and on a whim I asked my doctor to check my B12 level.  Vitamin B12 is another one of those things that can cause fatigue when too low.

My B12 came back in range so I dismissed it at first.  But further research showed that while my level of 361 was in lab range, most people feel symptoms if it is below 450.  So I bought B12 supplements and started taking them.

Two days later, I had pep.  Strange.  What is this mysterious energy I have?  Why am I not falling asleep in the afternoon when I'm trying to have my prayer time?  Huh.  A week later I felt normal.  Three weeks later and I am a new person.  

My house is clean.  My laundry is all caught up.  I have gutted, purged and deep cleaned over half my house since Labor Day even with starting homeschooling again.  Because after teaching my kids all morning, I HAVE ENERGY LEFT OVER.  

We joined the YMCA last week.  While my kids played in the pool, I swam laps.  A bunch of them, all in a row.  Last night, NIGHT, when I used to crash from fatigue, I did an hour long water aerobics class.  And I wasn't exhausted by the end.  

So I want to encourage anyone who is struggling with fatigue and isn't finding answers, don't give up.  It took me many doctor visits, 2 surgeries, 1 spit test, 5 blood draws and almost a year to figure out the source of my problem.  I just keep thinking: What if I had given up?  What if I hadn't asked the doctor to add that B12 test on a whim?  

I don't know why my B12 was low when I eat so much meat, eggs, and other B12-rich foods, but today I don't care.  I am just happy to have energy again.

No comments:

Post a Comment