Or: In Which Anna Opens her Very Own Nutritional Supplement Store and Whines about Stuff.
I don’t like harping about medical issues, especially since some of mine are… less than savory. But with the way things have been, I need to get all this off my chest, and hey – I have a blog. So anyway, it’s all under the “read more” tag, and if you’re squeamish you probably don’t want to read some of it. I promise not to harp about this after now, but I feel like I need some kind of outlet.
To preface this – three weeks ago (read: well before thanksgiving) I had a round of bloodwork done at my doctor’s office. They checked… uh… everything. It was enough that I was lightheaded afterwards, from the number of little tubes the nice vampire lady took from my arm. Today I got the results back…
Ok – So I have a list of things. The first is the least icky.
I have joint problems. Serious ones, actually. All my joints have too much space in them, and therefore hyperextend (read: bend backwards). I can sit with my legs out straight, knees touching the ground, and lift my feet about a foot off the floor without moving my knees. Elbows, hips, shoulders, fingers, the whole bit – they all are like that, and it’s really fun to gross people out.
I also had scarlet fever as a kid. And I was a gymnast and a dancer, and then a martial artist. So I’ve had my share of joint injuries (let’s just say I’m not impeded by crutches anymore) and have had surgery on my right knee (ACL and cartilage repair).
One of the things that comes with all that is a serious dependence on anti-inflammatories for daily function, but I always figured that was because of the activities I was doing (not exactly joint friendly). Except when I stopped doing them, the pain continued. My knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, ankles – all are susceptible to “bad days”. I have to stretch most mornings to feel like my body is my own again, and I randomly have swollen angry joints. Today it’s my knees; yesterday my hips hurt so badly I couldn’t sit anywhere but in my husband’s new cushy desk chair.
Soooo… I have now had more bloodwork done, and have an appt with a Rheumatologist, to find out if I actually have rheumatoid arthritis or just normal old regular arthritis/joint issues. YAY for better living through ibuprofen. Stick a big ol’ bottle of Glucosamine/Chondroitin on the shelf next to the multi vitamin.
The second is probably the most icky.
I have IBS. I was diagnosed with it after a particularly bad few months in high school (let me tell you, that was NOT fun), and I have pretty good control of it most of the time. It’s an episodic disease, so sometimes I’m just like everyone else for weeks, and then I’ll go through a week where anything I eat is… er… processed painfully and rapidly and exits my body again within 30 minutes, usually in about the same state that it went in (though in the opposite direction).
Like many other similar diseases, I have trigger foods – my big ones? high fat foods, anything fried, most food preservatives, and spicy foods. I can’t eat salads in restaurants, because they wash them in preservatives. Fried chicken is right out, and pizza is usually on the no-no list as well (though I eat it sometimes anyway, even though I know it’ll make me sick).
Unfortunately this means that my guts don’t work right a lot of the time. And apparently that’s translated into a severe vitamin B12 deficiency, since it’s one of the vitamins that absorbs through the walls of your gut. B12 deficiency causes low energy, tiredness, and mild depression – all of which I’ve had trouble with recently.
I’m told that normal is 400, and my blood test results were less than 200. This was apparently severe enough to have the doctor recommend a series of B12 shots – one a day for 5 days, then one a week for a month, then once a month from then on. But every time I walk in the doctor’s office, it costs me $15 in copay, plus whatever the insurance doesn’t cover… and that gets expensive fast when you’re going in daily.
So the second part of my newly acquired supplement aisle is both liquid B12 (that I take once a day and hold in my mouth for 60 seconds, to bypass the not-working-guts problem), and Super B-complex tablets that I take twice a day. (Fun Fact: Taking large doses of B vitamins turns your pee glow-in-the-dark neon yellow) In three months when I go back to get even MORE bloodwork done, they’ll check it, and if it’s not back to normal, I get to get shots. woo. I hate my guts.
The third part of this whole saga is the most frustrating.
I am 24 years old, 5’7′ and weigh 150 lbs. Ideal weight for my height is 130-160 lbs. I am neither overweight nor inactive, and I work out usually 4 days a week (walking/low-impact aerobic, and weights). Because of the IBS, I cook a lot, and I eat a low fat, high fiber diet with lots of fruits and veggies. I don’t cook with butter (I use olive or canola oil), I rarely bake sweets, I eat out infrequently (and usually for sushi or Vietnamese noodle soup), and though I have a sweet tooth, I try to curb it with occasional hershey’s kisses. I make my own fruit sorbets instead of eating icecream. I eat oatmeal and bananas for breakfast every day.
And I have hyperlipidemia. High Cholesterol. Not just a little bit either. Like – the kind where if you are 40 and you get results like this back, they put you on Lipitor and don’t ask questions. It doesn’t make any sense, unless you count the fact that everyone on my dad’s side of the family is either on medication or on a severely restricted diet – some of them at as low as 35 years old. (thanks dad).
But, as i mentioned, I’m 24. I’m not really ready to set myself up for a lifetime of prescription medication, even if my lipid panel screams “HEART ATTACK NEXT WEEK”. (I don’t count the IBS meds, since I take them only symptomatically) Soooo… I get 3 months grace, if you can call it that. I’m now on a truly no-fat diet. Skim milk, no cheese, no red meat, fish only once a week, no egg yolks, no alcohol, as little processed starch as possible, that weird margarine substitute crap – the whole bit. And I’m taking fish oil, flax seed oil, red yeast rice, and garlic twice a day, pushing my supplement list up to 8. Merry fecking Christmas, I hope you didn’t want to eat any cookies.
In three months I get to go back and have the bloodwork repeated. The sad thing is, I had this test done last year, and got a similar (but LOWER/better) result and a verbal warning from the doctor. And over the last year I’ve made a conscious effort to eat more whole grains, joined a gym and exercised regularly – all the stuff that the stupid TV healthy commercials tell you to do. And the result was an *extra* 60 points on my cholesterol score.
And finishing off the row of vitamins and assorted crap is a giant bottle of Vitamin C. On top of all this, I’m prone to bladder/kidney infections, and I get to take two of those every day as well. In fact, what started all this bloodwork was a recurring kidney infection (the last episode of which was three weeks ago, prompting the doctor’s visit) – and she had all that bloodwork done to figure out if there was something actually wrong with my kidneys (there isn’t).
Oh – and I should also probably mention that I have horrible, tiny, deep set veins, and even though the lady at my doctor’s office is *really really good* she still had to fish in both my arms today to get a vein that was good enough to get a vial of blood from. Fortunately the one she found is under a freckle. She says I’m not allowed to let anyone stick me anywhere but there from now on. Which is good, but I’ve still got two really lovely bruises.
<sighs> So now that I’ve thoroughly grossed everyone out, whined and complained, and generally made a post that nobody wants to read, I’m going to go make myself some tea and do something arm-friendly. I have a big backlog of work to do, but I’m not mentally with it right now. Still trying to process all of this.