For years I’ve struggled with muscle aches and pains, feeling overly tired and completely drained of a desire to do much of anything. I’d seen my doctor about it and she’d referred me to a rheumatologist. The specialist was, to say the least… lacking in his profession, he was completely indifferent and dismissive of my ailments. I decided to let it go and just get on with life. A couple of years later, still feeling “off” my new doctor sent me back to the same specialist. When I entered the room he remembered me quite clearly and joked about what could be wrong with me, stating, “You again, what could be wrong with you, you’re young and healthy. Why are you here?” I quickly replied back, “well ok then, I don’t know, guess I’ll be on my way.” He said something to the effect of since I was there lets see what’s “wrong” with me. He did an assessment and said he couldn’t really say, I had some symptoms similar to that of fibromyalgia and some hypermobility in my joints but nothing that is definitive. He then stated it could just be the body getting older and that I’d gained some weight over the last couple years (20 lbs in 3 years) and that could be the problem. Feeling defeated and helpless about my situation tears began welling up in my eyes. When he noticed my emotional state, he said, “We also have mental health available if you need someone to talk to.” I was beside myself with disbelief.
I know what you’re saying to yourself, you’re saying, “No he didn’t!” but yes, yes he did! crazy right! I headed straight down to the patient advocate and addressed the situation. First time shame on you, second time shame on you and I’m sayin somethin!
Another couple of years pass and I’m taking anti-inflamitories, muscle relaxers and a couple other things just to help me manage my discomfort of the “fibromyalgia”. Taking care of Pops was my priority, so when I was feeling completely drained, loopy in the head and numb to all of life’s experiences I assumed it was from taking care of my dad and knowing soon he wouldn’t be with us anymore.
About a month after Pops had passed I decided it was about time that I start to take care of myself and get things addressed that I’d been putting off. I recall so vividly the moment I’d made the decision to get things checked out, I was walking into the front bathroom thinking how enough is enough, and it has to be addressed and I felt a poke in my backside. Seriously, just a little poke, plain as day. I looked behind me, I was alone…I knew in that moment my Mom and Dad’s spirits were telling me to just do it already.
I emailed my doctor that day, stating I wanted a second opinion about my fibromyalgia. Since it’s the VA, they wouldn’t pay for a visit to an outside provider if their doctor was available. I said schedule it anyway because he would be booked too far out and I would be able to use the Choice Program to get my second opinion outside of the VA. To my surprise I was called the next day and they could get me in next week. My heart sank and I asked, “whom will the appointment be with?” and from his mouth came the most beautiful words, “We have a new Rheumatologist, her name is Dr. Woe” I said with great joy and relief, “Woe? Really? Wahoo! Wonderful news!”
Short end to a long story…. I had a vitamin D deficiency! It wasn’t fibromyalgia. All this time, all that time, all along… are you kidding me! All those years and it was a vitamin, one little blood test and there was the answer. Sigh, big long sigh. I’m grateful for an answer, and to know that it’s an easy fix, what a relief. But also, I’m sad for the me in the past that struggled for all those years and felt like a hypochondriac because of a doctor who didn’t care enough to even try figuring out what was wrong.
My vitamin D level was at 17; the acceptable range is between 30-70. My Doctor said that 50 is the ideal number. I would like to share all the symptoms I experienced, just in case you or someone you know may be experiencing the same things.
- tired when I woke up, and never felt rested, constant fatigue
- everything seemed challenging physically, even having conversations
- felt as if I couldn’t really focus, like in a dream state (thought it was fibro fog)
- muscle weakness and aches
- random joint pain
- horrible awful night sweats
- feeling mentally numb and emotionally detached
So many times over the years my friends would ask me if I wanted to do things with them and I wanted to want to… but I just didn’t want to. My body didn’t want to do anything either and when we would get together I felt unable to engage in meaningful conversation. I was confused about my own self, not having a desire to all the things I used to enjoy, but I made myself accept that my life was just going to be like this. Until I finally decided to be my own advocate, and fight to get some real answers.
I’m now on 10,000 D3 IU a day for a couple of months to get my levels up to where they need to be before reducing the amount. I’m feeling better, I wake up rested, no more night sweats, I can think more clearly, the aches and weakness are dissipating, but am still waiting for the tiredness to subside. Overall though I’m starting to feel like the old me, up for doing more things, and being able to actually enjoy my life again.
I sincerely hope that this story inspires you to be your own best friend. It’s your body and you know it best. If something feels wrong, go seek help and if that doctor doesn’t help you, or there’s just something that is still nagging at you about it, get a second opinion. Please don’t go through years of blah like I did because of someone else’s inadequacies.