I’m Not Superwoman
Hello, long time no post. I didn’t mean to go missing and I really did want to post some recaps of my time in America. I even wrote the first post, but never got around to putting it up … it’s on my to-do list for this week because I want a record for myself as much as for anyone else.
I lost my blogging mojo I suppose, along with my fitness mojo and most of my energy just generally. I’ve been low in energy for some time and I’m written about it here a few times. About a year or so ago I was diagnosed with an iron deficiency. I was prescribed iron supplements which I took for a month and then my iron levels returned back to normal. Everyone told me that I’d feel so much better, but I still felt tired and lethargic. I didn’t think too much of it and just accepted that I’m quite a low-energy person, I’ve never been one to be bouncing off the walls.
I managed to have a full-time job, travel at the weekends to see Peter and my family and workout 5-6 days a week without too many problems, although I found that I lacked concentration some of the time and needed naps in the afternoon.
However, over the past couple of months things have got worse. I moaned at length about how broken I felt after Bridlington Half Marathon and I haven’t really run since. I did a couple of short runs on the treadmill which were pretty grim and a couple of runs outside which were pleasant enough due to the bright sunny weather. In fact any sort of exercise has felt like a drag.
What finally made me go to see the doctor was the aching joints in my hands, wrists and elbows. It’s probably repetitive strain injury, but I’m glad I’m went because the blood tests picked up a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is needed to make red blood cells and to keep nerves healthy. The deficiency explains a lot of the symptoms that I’ve been suffering from over the past couple of years that I’d just disregarded as normal for me, including:
- feeling tired
- looking pale (I’m pale anyway, so it’s kind of hard to tell)
- heart palpitations
- poor concentration – “brain fog”
- tingling in my hands and feet
- sore mouth and tongue
Vitamin B12 is found in meat and other animal products and the only people who become deficient due to diet are long-term vegans who don’t supplement. I’m definitely not vegan, so there is another cause of the deficiency. The most common cause is pernicious anaemia, which is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the protein that enables the body to absorb B12. I tested negative for pernicious anaemia, but about 40% of people that have it test negative, so it’s still possible that I have it. Other causes include stomach surgery, some medicines and inflammatory bowel conditions.
In any case, the treatment is the same. I’m having B12 injections every other day for two weeks. I will then need to have injections once every three months for life. I’ve just had my second injection and I’m looking forward to starting to feel more like myself again. I’m lucky that it’s been found fairly early as it can make you very poorly and before a treatment was discovered about 100 years ago it was a fatal condition.
Anyway, the point of this post is that I have realised that I’m not superwoman and I don’t have to bust a gut working out every night, for some people that’s not what being healthy means. I’ve been practicing yoga or pilates most mornings, walking every lunchtime and taking lower impact classes like Urban Funk and Zumba a couple of times a week. This is much reduced from what I was doing, but it’s right for me now.
I’ve refocused my diet on including more iron and folic acid and they interact with B12. I’m also eating bananas until they’re coming out of my ears because potassium levels can drop after having the injections.
I’ve got loads of great information and advice from the Pernicious Anaemia Society website if you want to find out more information. B12 deficiency is fairy rare in younger people (1 in 10,000 across the general population of Northern Europe, but that includes 1 in 10 people over 75). It is under-diagnosed, especially in older people where it can lead to dementia and MS-like symptoms. It’s more likely if your a woman with pale skin, blue eyes and blood group A – hello, that’s me!
Hopefully in the New Year I can start rebuilding my exercise routine and I would love to keep running, but it might have to be at a more sedate pace.