Through the Tunnel

I haven’t blogged in awhile, but hopefully I can get back to it more.  I’ve wanted posts on here to be positive as well as informative, so that is one of the reasons for my absence.  I have been dealing with some health issues in my life, and am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and have some answers for my crisis.

I believe it really started last November.  There wasn’t one particular day, but looking back, that’s where it seems to have started.  I started feeling really down and just worn out and with my desire for sleep all the time, or having trouble staying asleep, I knew I was depressed.  I started dreading going anywhere, so I didn’t go out.  Around the holidays, I stayed home.  On Thanksgiving Day, Cook took the kids to my mom’s while I stayed home by myself.  I knew there was something really wrong.  In my mind I struggled with the thought of being depressed.  I thought I needed to pray more and fight against the enemy.  But I was praying, I just didn’t have the physical strength to fight.  I’m sure a lot of you have heard one time or another in church that Christians (saints) have no business being depressed.  It’s a nice thought, but it doesn’t always apply.  It’s comments like that, that makes the struggle even harder for a person who is physically weak not necessarily spiritually weak.  This is where I found myself and stopped beating myself up and continued to pray, and asked God to give me some answers.  During this time, along with not wanting to go anywhere, I would have such anxiety when I knew I had to go some place.  Cook would grocery shop for me, or he would have to go with me.  I stopped driving anywhere.  I stopped getting my B12 shot because I just couldn’t think about going to get it in spite of knowing it would help me feel better.  I stopped going to church.  Just the typical day to day stresses as well as the new stresses that the recession has added to many families, mine included, made me feel worse.  Each day I just pretty much existed.  I know when people talk about depression, in the worst cases people cannot even do simple tasks.  That was not the case with me, I was able to carry on my daily tasks, so that gave me hope.  But there were days that I would just cry for no reason. 

Finally one Sunday morning as Cook took the kids to church, I watched them pull away and began to cry.  I knew I had to find answers, this was so unlike me.  I got on the Internet, I don’t know what I searched for but I found this site: I found my answers!!  These are the main points that hit home:

  • What many women don’t realize is that the Pill actually has higher amounts of synthetic hormones than HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) – up to twice as much, depending on the brand.  Even the low-dose pills have 35 mcg of estrogen combined with a progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone), slightly higher than an average HRT prescription.  Article – “Birth Control Pills in Perimenopause”
  • The Pill also chews up B vitamins, including folic acid, and many other nutrients, leaving the body at serious risk for nutritional deficiency.  Studies have shown (and our own patient monitoring backs this up) that women on the Pill are deficient in B vitamins. Article – “Birth Control Pills in Perimenopause”
  • Symptoms of perimenopause can begin as early as 10-15 years before menses completely stop.  Women in their late 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s may transition in and out of a perimenopausal state many times before they finally enter menopause. Article – “Perimenopause – The Beginning of Hormonal Change”
  • Yet fuzzy thinking and an inability to multitask can definitely be traced to your physical state, as can increased anxiety, fatigue, depression and drastic mood swings.  If you have irregular periods, heavy bleeding, hot flashes, sleep disruption, headaches, dry eyes, vaginal changes, hair loss, weight gain, loss of libido or extreme emotional distress, you may be relieved to know that these are all common signs of perimenopause.  Article – “Perimenopause – The Beginning of Hormonal Change”
  • Birth control pills cause high triglycerides.

It was probably when I was about 39 that I started asking my Gynecologist about coming off the birth control pill.  She assured me that I could stay on it until menopause.  So being that I was used to the pill, I continued to stay on it.  This site states “A conventional practitioner may simply pick an age (typically 50) and move you then from BCP’s (Birth Control Pills) directly to HRT.  This is a convenient way of keeping your appointment time to a minimum.”  I also researched the pill I was on.  I had switched to the Yaz birth control pill in September the same year I found the B12 deficiency.  In my research, I found that Yaz was just put on the market that year.  I also found many women on a forum talking about the symptoms they were having while on Yaz, including depression, anxiety and fatigue.  After finding this info, Cook and I discussed it and decided to take steps in getting me better.  The first step was to stop taking Yaz.  The doctor’s at state “It is true that just dropping BCP’s “cold turkey” will usually result in some very unpleasant symptoms.”  I was fully aware of this, but I knew I had to get off the pill, nothing could be worse than what I was dealing with.  I haven’t experienced any unpleasant symptoms being off the pill.  One thing I have noticed is that I have more acne break-outs, nothing too major though.

What really bothered me about all this is I was regularly seeing three different doctors: my regular doctor, an Oncology Specialist that my regular doctor referred me to, and my Gynecologist.  All of them knew I was on the pill and getting B12 shots.  The Specialist was the only one that actually said he didn’t like the idea of me being on the pill.  He was seeing me for macrocytosis, which means your red blood cells are enlarged.  After dozens of blood tests and a bone marrow aspiration (ouch!) he found no serious reason for the condition and summed it up as an isolated case.  In doing my research I just wondered why didn’t any of these doctors put 2 and 2 together and make the connection to the B12 deficiency and the birth control pill?

My second step was to begin the B12 again.  I decided to try it in pill form.  I did this in the past and realized now that it wasn’t effective since I was still on the pill, it was kinda like pouring water through a funnel.  So I started with a Sublingual B12 pill from Walgreen’s.  Sublingual means “under the tongue” the B12 is absorbed into the blood stream through the vein under your tongue.  These particular pills seem to dissolve too fast.  They helped me feel a little better.  My original plan was to get the TriVita Sublingual B12.  I recently found that they now have a Super Sublingual B12, and those are the ones that I bought, and they have made a significant difference.  I’m sleeping better, my mind isn’t all fuzzy, and I am actually going places again and driving.  I still have some bad days, but I am taking small steps one at a time to regain my health and get back to the way I used to be.  I haven’t been to the doctor yet (that has to do with the not going places thingy) but when I do, I will discuss all this information with them.  I also plan to have my hormone levels checked as well.  Through this I have found that hormonal imbalance wreaks havoc on our bodies, and it doesn’t have to.

This is my journey.  This blog is not to suggest anything to anyone, but to inform.  As women we are all different and our bodies react differently.  As women we tend to suffer in silence as we try to “keep it all together” and not admit we are overwhelmed or depressed.  I just wanted you to know that if you have been feeling like I have been, you are not alone.  These are starting points for you to talk to your doctor about.  We know when we just don’t feel right, don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Check out the web site I mentioned, it has a lot of good information, and will help you in finding the questions to ask your doctor.  Take time to take care of yourself, so that you can be the healthy wife, mother, sister, and daughter that your family deserves.

B12 Boost of Energy

I had to do get my B12 shot today. Usually older people have to get B12 shots, but a couple of years ago, my doctor found out that I was B12 deficient. This is how it happened.

I usually didn’t see a regular doctor routinely, I saw my gynecologist yearly, but that was it. Once my dad had his by-pass surgery and was diagnosed with heart disease, my siblings and I knew we needed to be tested for high cholesterol, and the things associated with heart disease by the time we were 35.  At that time my brothers and sister were that age, I had a couple of years yet. They all got tested, and had high cholesterol. I put mine off until I was 38, praying I inherited my mother’s genes. So I went in and my doctor did all kinds of blood work. In addition to my high cholesterol (242 ugh!!) She also found that I was B12 deficient. When I went in for my check-up, I did mention to her how tired I was all the time. Usually when I told people that or my gynecologist, the response would be, “You have 4 kids, you should be tired!” I would then think, yeah, they’re right. But deep down I knew this wasn’t a normal tired. I could get 9-10 hours of sleep in a night and still take a nap in the afternoon. Plus day to day tasks seemed overwhelming to me, it was like my mind was bombarded with all the things I needed to do, and then I had a hard time getting things prioritized. So I was very grateful that my doctor was able to figure this out. She suggested the B12 shots. So to start, I had to get 3 shots within 1 week and then I would get them monthly after that. So I systematically set them up for the week before my little guys 1st birthday. We were having a huge cookout since he was born on the 4th of July, inviting a bunch of people. My husband was working as a truck driver then, so he was on the road for the better part of that week. So I knew I had a lot to do, not to mention it would also be “my time of the month.” When I got the first shot, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t remember feeling this good. By the third shot, I was unstoppable. The energy, the clarity of mind and thought, and the restful sleep I had once I got the shots was unbelievable!! My husband even noticed the difference right away. When I told him how good I was feeling, it brought me to tears. Because all those years I was having problems, I just thought it was me. It was never said to me directly, but I always felt like it was implied by different ones that I was lazy or lacked motivation. After awhile, I just started to believe I was, because there was nothing I could do to change it. Looking back, I feel this contributed to the bouts of depression I dealt with. At that time I didn’t think I was depressed, just thought I was stressed over different circumstances I was dealing with. So after talking with my husband and just being relieved that there was something physically wrong with me, he actually apologized for not getting me to a doctor sooner. We as women and moms take care of everyone and we are always the last to go to the doctor. We need to be in the best health we can be, because it affects everyone around us. Also, with our spouses, we need to urge them to see a doctor, if something doesn’t seem right. We know when something just isn’t right!! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to your doctor. Keep going until you find one you like and who’ll listen. In that first check-up of mine, I talked with her about different things, and almost didn’t ask her this one last thing, I was too embarrassed, or thought I was being too vain. Even though it had been a year since I had last given birth, I just felt like my stomach seemed too big. When I wasn’t really holding it in, I felt like I looked like I was 5 months pregnant. So that’s what I told her. So she had me lay down and she had me lift up like I was doing a crunch, while she felt down the middle of my stomach. She knew right away what it was, Diastases Recti. That’s the separation between the left and right side of the rectis abdominus muscle which covers the front surface of the belly area. Multiple births and repeated pregnancies increase the risk in pregnant women. So she gave me some exercises to do, and that cleared up as well.

Every month I go in for my B12 shots. I can tell when I need one, my sleep isn’t as sound, and it takes me longer to wake up. When I just get the shot, I can sleep or take a nap, but once I wake up, I’m awake. It’s strange how something that gives you energy and alertness can also give you sound sleep. I plan to continue to get these shots, I have tried talking B12 in pill form, it just didn’t work as well as the shots. So I encourage you as a woman and a mom, if you just don’t feel good or are tired all the time, if you can, see your doctor, and ask questions, am so glad that I did!!