Megaloblastic anemia (B-12 Deficiency)Here I am again, climbing back out of a weekend of exhaustion on my road to attempting to feel better. It took me two days (Saturday and Sunday) to finally feel human and now it's back to work after a holiday weekend. I was told 2 years ago that I was depleted of B12 and I would need to have shots each week for 12 weeks and then have them each month until I built my "stores" up. I was ever so grateful for the physician that told me this after viewing my blood results, however, the taking off work, driving 35 miles from work and then back to work (since they were not open on weekends or after work for patients) became too cost prohibitive as I am a single self-supporting woman. I am writing this personal story in hopes that this may help someone else who is searching and not getting answers. I am also writing this down so I will not forget what has happened to me.
Growing up as a young child in the country, I would catch the school bus daily. I loved school, was an avid reader, and loved my friends. I began reading the newspaper in 3rd grade and watched the nightly news with my folks. We were in the middle of Vietnam and I was very well aware of the goings on. By 3rd grade, I began having tummy troubles. I would be fine one minute and then, all of a sudden, I had horrifying abdominal pain that was unrelenting. Nothing worked to ease the pain, nothing. I would have to stay home from school, missing my friends and my studies. My digestion was horrible back then and I was always constipated to the point of causing bleeding. By high school, the pain was so severe that I would pass out. Years later at 23 yrs of age, I would discover on my own that I was lactose intolerant. The tummy troubles did not end though, in fact, they worsened.
At 20 yrs old, I was sitting at a table eating dinner at a restaurant when a companion mentioned that I was sighing. I took that comment in and realized, I WAS sighing. I then began to notice that what I was really doing was breathing in to get a full breath. I couldn't stop! I NOW know that I had shortness of breath. I do the same thing now and recognize it; this has brought back many memories.
At 19-23 yrs of age I dabbled in vegetarianism.
At 25 I was working in southern California for a large corporation. I continued experiencing excruciating abdominal pain, & fainting.
28 years of age hit me like a TON of bricks....I had a beautiful baby daughter (delivered by c-section) but within 3 mos, I was bedridden and in so much back pain I honestly could not walk. I did not know what to do. I was finally able to go to a sports rehab Dr who ran all kinds of tests and gave me muscle relaxers which I did not want to take. I went to him for a couple of weeks and finally one day he was out on vacation. His replacement Dr took one look at me and told me he had a cure! I was slightly excited but wondered how he could possibly have a cure. He brought in a back brace and slapped it around me, telling me to jump off the table. I told him there was no way! He then took my hand and yanked me off the table; I braced myself to fall to the ground, but alas, I was able to remain standing. He said loudly, "you're cured!"...I asked him, "but wait, how will I shower? When I remove this thing, I will fall to the ground". He wasn't concerned..he then asked me if I wanted surgery...I said "for what?" and he answered, "for your back!" "No I don't want surgery, what's wrong with me?", I asked. He said he didn't know.
At 29, I was notified by my gyno that I had abnormal cells on my cervix. I was floored; back then, no one ever discussed this and I was so scared. I went in for my appointment and I had cryotherapy. I couldn't believe it. My doc told me I would be fine now and not to worry. I then began taking birth control pills to regulate my monthly cycle as mine was heavy and was lasting longer, and longer. I had never taken them before and although they did regulate my cycle, they made me extremely ill and nauseous. I tried taking them for three years with the Dr switching my prescriptions and finally gave up because they made me so ill. I hobbled along in life and then at 30 yrs of age, I was hit with excruciating migraines. Mind you, I had never had a headache before then. I had no idea how to stop the pain and they would last for about 2-3 days. I got them about two or more times a month.
At 32 I noticed I was having difficulty remembering things (short term), and I would find myself quietly repeating some things, which I found very odd and disturbing. I thought I must surely be losing my mind. But I had a high pressure job that I loved and I have always been a hard worker and knew I would do anything I had to do to make this work.
Life went on, I remarried, left the company, dabbled at work at home and then home schooled my daughter. I still got migraines but being at home made it easier to deal with. The horrible abdominal pain continued. I recall being in my bed all weekend once, hearing the kids laughing and playing and being in so much pain I thought I would surely die. Mind you I had long before stopped all dairy products. It was during this time period that I was reading my Bible preparing for study later that evening and then upon arrival at the Bible study, I opened my Bible to follow along and I couldn't read the words on the page. I mean they were completely blurry. From early afternoon with no sight issue to early evening not being able to see writing on a page. It was mind boggling to me! I was 41 yrs of age.
One day (my late 40's), after knocking on a clients door, I stepped back and collapsed on the ground flat. She came out and I remember laughing but nothing was coming out of my mouth! I could see everything going on, could hear it, but could not move a muscle. She reached for my hand, I said a quick prayer in my spirit, and then the moment she touched my hand, I was up. It was the most bizarre thing I had ever experienced. We then went to breakfast (after I dusted myself off), and we discussed her house plans like nothing had happened. I went to my local Dr the very next Monday and explained what had happened. He seemed concerned and scheduled an appointment with a neurologist. The neurologist hooked me up to some wires, ran some tests and said there was nothing wrong with me. I told my Dr I wanted to find out what was happening but he assured me I must have slipped but I surely did not. He had run some bloodwork and I will never forget him telling me "Other than your red blood cells being enlarged, you are healthy as a horse!" He must not have realized that enlarged red blood cells is a late sign of advanced B12 deficiency.
I was working at a job I dearly loved when I realized I could not remember things. It was embarrassing but they were such dolls and we just joked about it. The movie Fifty First Dates came on and I watched it laughing with my sis saying, "I almost know exactly how she feels!", I said. Many times, my sis (who has a steel trap memory) used to tell me what we had discussed previously and I would have no memory of it, whatsoever. Her reaction would always be to call me "Grandmother" because our Gram (long since passed) had dementia and couldn't remember us or much of anything. I never took it personal, we just laughed about it and I would say, "every day is a new day!" It was also a little joke at work and my supervisor (and dear friend) would say, "Really, Kelly does NOT remember the discussion." It was a fact too. I also had horrible brain fog and I could be in the middle of a thought or a sentence and would lose the entire thing, I have a pretty good sense of humor so I would just laugh about it.
I had a hysterectomy, & had my gallbladder removed in the coming year.
(early fifties) I had to begin a new position in a field I knew very well and I noticed that my memory lapses were worsening. I was concerned because I would walk 10 feet away to get information and by the time I was half way back to my desk, I had forgotten the answer! I would have to turn around and go back and ask again...if I did not have a notepad to write something on (which I could not remember to take with me), it was impossible to recall what I had been told. Still, I kept working and I guess I could hide it pretty well. (I think).
In my early fifties, I awoke one morning and realized that I could not see anything! I was quite concerned and I walked by memory through the house to the mirror in the hall, willing myself to see but I could not. By the time I made it to another mirror, my eyesight returned. It was most bizarre and lasted all of 5 minutes. I went immediately that morning to an ophthalmologist who checked me out and found nothing wrong, once again. He referred me back to my primary care physician and insisted that he test me for a heart condition.
Also in my early fifties I began falling, falling flat! One morning I awoke, got out of bed and fell flat! Also, I was becoming more and more exhausted; I couldn't do anything but drive home and crawl into bed! I had no energy to do my dishes or anything else. I continued to fall. I would sleep through the weekend, and by Sunday have a little energy to visit with family. I tried to ride my bike but one time and I literally fell twice blaming my repeated fall on my driveway (to this day). I fell so badly one morning in the winter that I smashed my face on a brick planter, not fun. To this day I am constantly tripping at home, thankfully thus far I have been able to catch myself on a counter or simply fall onto the bed or a couch.
For as long as I can remember, I have been calling my left hand my 'alien hand' because I simply can't grasp and hold anything of any weight with it, it will seriously simply drop something even if I think I have a grip on it.
Last year, I had another abnormal pap and received a note from my gyno to get into her office. I had just received a vitamin drink and I drank it heartily. I also started back on B12 (methyl-cobalamin) orally. I went to the gyno that week and she was prepping me for the procedure. She had a microscope type thing looking inside me and then she said "that's odd", I asked her what she was talking about and she told me there was no problem, it must surely be a lab mistake. I ended up not getting the cryotherapy this time. I was relieved. It felt like a miracle!
I attributed the instant healing to my vitamin drink and happily started buying it and drinking it and telling my friends about it. I was also taking my B12 orally and getting shots once a month by now. I really believed in my liquid vitamin drink and decided I would forgo the injections as they were costly and I don't like needles anyway. Slowly, I slipped back into the utter exhaustion, forgetfulness, etc. One day I simply awoke from the brain fog knowing that I had better do something and do it now! I asked around and found a day spa that gave the injections. I began getting them once a week and I started feeling better. In fact, my short term memory improved and there were no more jokes about me or my memory but instead, people would come to me about things they had forgotten!
I decided I had better stop messing around with this (now that I could think clearly) and I would once again go to a Dr. I received a transfer to a more local Nurse Practitioner who listened to me and 'heard' what I was explaining. I gave her the book "Could It Be B12? An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses" and she accepted it and is reading it now. I have more blood work to get completed and I will be doing that soon. My little sis is a nurse and she gives me my weekly injection now. I highly recommend the below book.
Also, I recommend the below video,especially if you think you might have this deficiency and want more information now.Watch the video Diagnosing and Treating Vitamin B12 Deficiency here. This is a video you can show to friends and family that will clearly clue them in on how serious this deficiency is and can be. It's also easy to share with others who might be suffering similarly and have no idea that there might be help for them.
To sum it all up, many of the symptoms above have everything to do with B12 deficiency. From the exhaustion, abdominal pain, digestive issues, shortness of breath, fainting, back pain, abnormal paps, memory loss, forgetfulness, brain fog, poor eyesight, falling, tripping, etc. Believe me, the list goes on an on.
What can you do if you think you might have a B12 deficiency? GET TESTED. Most patients who have B12 deficiency symptoms or are at risk for B12 deficiency never get tested. People over 65 are frequently misdiagnosed because doctors blame their B12 deficiency symptoms on preexisting diseases and comorbid conditions. See below for suggested tests.
I am only now starting to really talk about what I have been going through because honestly, I am only now understanding how much of the above is connected. Feel free to comment or ask any questions. I wish you the very best of health.
PS as a note, sadly, autism, mental illness, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, congestive heart failure, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome and postpartum depression/psychosis. It can make men or women infertile and cause developmental disabilities or autistic—like symptoms in children. and many other diseases are being diagnosed when in fact, many times, it is simply a B12 deficiency.
Groups of people at high risk for B12 deficiency include vegans, vegetarians, alcoholics and people with celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, gastric bypass, anemia, autoimmune diseases and AIDS. The use of certain drugs such as proton pump inhibitors, metformin, H-2 blockers and nitrous oxide can also cause B12 deficiency. **Your body must absorb enough vitamin B12. A special protein, called intrinsic factor, helps your body do this. This protein is released by cells in the stomach. If your body does not produce intrinsic factor, you will be B12 deficient.**
There is also a link to the book "Could It Be B12, An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses" in the blog post below, as well as a link to B12 that most bodies can absorb. If you or anyone you know has some of these symptoms, please find a Dr right away. This can be deadly but it is also very treatable if caught in time. Remember, your serum B12 might show that you are just fine when in actuality your tissues are not absorbing the B12. It's imperative that you be tested.
You may not have symptoms. Symptoms may be mild. Symptoms can include:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Fatigue, lack of energy, or light-headedness when standing up or with exertion
- Loss of appetite
- Pale skin
- Problems concentrating
- Shortness of breath, mostly during exercise
- Swollen, red tongue or bleeding gums
Signs of B12 deficiency: Tingling or numbness, sore mouth or tongue, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depression, weakness, abnormal gait, mental impairment, visual disturbances, migraine, orthostatic intolerance, chest pain, tachycardia, difficulty breathing, edema, elevated homocysteine, elevated MMA, stomach and GI problems, blood abnormalities, neurological lesion, Limb movement disorders, Psychosis, thoughts of suicide.
Risk Factors of B12 deficiency: vegetarian diet, pregnant, age over 50, low stomach acid, celiac disease, food allergies, eating disorders, parasites, use of acid blockers, use of birth control pills, use of metformin, nitrous oxide anesthesia, pernicious anemia, autoimmune disorders, pancreatic insufficiency, stomach surgery, intestinal bacterial overgrowth, peptic ulcer, transcobalamin deficiency.
GET TESTED. Remember, growing older and losing your memory is NOT normal, and it is NOT funny. You deserve good health, take care of yourself and be your own health advocate. Some Dr's will only want to do a B12 Serum test, but this can be flawed. This might show you have plenty of B12 when in fact, your body is unable to absorb it. Then there is a huge chance you could be misdiagnosed. Go to this helpful link to discover tests that you should take to determine if in fact you have a B12 deficiency. Click here.
Good Videos Regarding B12
Dr Chandy - B12 Patient recovered from an MS misdiagnosis
Vitamin B12 - Is Your Brain Shrinking?
Autism & B12 Deficiency
Depression, Bipolar, ADHD, Schizophrenia and B12
Dementia, Alzheimers Disease & Parkinson's - B12
B vitamins and Alzheimers Disease