Monthly Archives: August 2013

No Sweat

The heat index is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the Mississippi Valley. I felt a bead of sweat roll down my back, and I smiled. I am able to sweat. Because of damage to my autonomic nervous system, caused from lack of vitamin B12, I was unable to sweat normally for years. I got symptoms of heat stroke, after spending about fifteen minutes out in barely warm, to hot weather. In an attempt to cool myself, I took a spray bottle with me everywhere I went. Then, when I walked into an air-conditioned room, I got shaking chills, because my internal body temperature was so high. Now, after almost two years of vitamin B12 injections for pernicious anemia, my ability to sweat is starting to return. I still keep a spray bottle with me during very hot weather, since I don’t tolerate high heat well, but my body’s cooling mechanism is making a comeback. It is a hopeful sign.

My first post, Diagnosing and Treating Vitamin B12 Deficiency, featured the video by the same name. I have received feedback regarding the content of this video. One comment was, “Crikey!” Another friend, who has multiple sclerosis, sent the video to her two doctors, and is in the process of being tested for vitamin B12 deficiency. She sent it forward to someone else who cried when she watched the video and said, “This is my life!”  Another friend forwarded the video to a friend across the Atlantic, who is now on vitamin B12 injections.

For those of you who missed it, you can still view it. At over 50-minutes long, it is a time commitment, but I am certain this video has saved lives.

Be Well and B12!

ACE: Adverse Childhood Events

t pink dress

I recently read the Family Resources Spring 2013 newsletter.  In their article, “The High Price of Trauma, ” they discuss the ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Events). This study suggests that the more traumatic events a child experiences, the more there are impacts on the child’s life and health. There is strong evidence that as the number of ACEs increase, so do illnesses as diverse as depression, alcoholism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ischemic heart disease, and liver disease. Also correlated are social ills such as higher crime rates, domestic abuse, unemployment, gang and criminal activity, and higher dropout rates. Divorce rates, incidence of smoking, suicide rates, number of adolescent and unintended pregnancies, fetal death numbers, and illicit drug use also rise. The ACE Study Web site outlines what constitutes emotional or physical abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente conducted their initial study from 1995 through 1997. They gathered information via questionnaires and health histories. The results of the study show solid evidence that physical and emotional trauma experienced during childhood rewires the brai, and changes how a person reacts to stressful events throughout their lifespan. A constant state of “flight or flight”creates chemical changes, which set a child up for destructive lifestyles and health problems later in life.

Greater awareness of this study’s results could spur changes in approaches and policies in healthcare, mental healthcare, and efforts to reduce crime and recidivism. Several organizations offer support and training towards these societal changes.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has formed the National Center for Trauma-Informed Care (NCTIC) to address the risks associated with childhood traumatic events. They encourage us to change our mindset from asking, “What’s wrong with you?,” to asking, “What has happened to you?” NCTIC provides training for staff, leaders, consumers, and others. Family Resources is leading the Quad-Cities in developing Trauma-Informed Care.

An additional resource addressing the fallout from Adverse Childhood Events is the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

On an individual basis, with greater awareness of possible causes of behavior, we can have a more compassionate approach in our relationships with ourselves, our loved ones, and those in our community.

Sunshine Vitamin

Sunset at Schwiebert Park, Rock Island, IL

Sunset at Schwiebert Park, Rock Island, IL

The sun, our life-giving star, sank beneath the Centennial Bridge, and then below the Mississippi River horizon line. Three blue heron had just flown overhead. I was taking in the last rays of the days, and thinking about the shortening days. This lead me to think about “the sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D, which isn’t a vitamin at all, but is a stem-cell regulating hormone.

I first realized how common vitamin D deficiency is from an evening newscast. Dr. John Whitcomb, a member of Aurora Hospital’s Emergency Department, said he gives most patients who walk through the ED doors, a shot of 50,000 units of vitamin D (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D, formerly thought to mainly help with bone formation and healing, has benefits for many body systems. Adequate amounts have been shown to ward off depression and most types of cancer. It is key in cardiovascular, bone, and immunological health.

Arthritis is only one of many conditions that can be ameliorated with the correct level of Vitamin D; read about other conditions that call for more of this sunshine “vitamin” and  other valuable information about Vitamin D.

According to Dr. Whitcomb, even if you spend time outdoors in the sun during the wintertime, the sun angle, at the latitude of Milwaukee, is such that your body cannot manufacture vitamin D. It relies on vitamin D stores in the body, accumulated during late Spring through Summer. There are a few foods that naturally provide vitamin D; they include mostly wild-caught fish, meat, and eggs.

It’s interesting to me, that if you consider indigenous diets, those in Northern latitudes contain a lot of fresh fish.

How much is enough? My primary physician, in Wisconsin, took a 4,000 IU (unit) supplement. At the cardiologist’s office I went to in Milwaukee, one of the cardiologists had all his patients take 4,000 IU. The American Cancer Society recommends 4,000 IU. Dr. John Whitcomb goes into detail about vitamin D and heart health. Here is an explanation of his 20/20/20/20 “rule.” The current RDA is only 400 IU, the amount to prevent rickets. This amount was established at a time when vitamin D was thought to mostly just affect bone health.

Because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, some people have concerns about toxicity. This can be an issue, as well, if you are receiving it by injection in large doses. I’ve heard 2,000 IU recommended as a dose, if you are concerned about toxicity. But, I do not dispense medical advice, and your doctor can check your blood level of vitamin D3 with a simple test. If you are low, you can decide whether to supplement with your diet, oral supplements, or with reasonable amounts of good ol’ sunshine.

Be Well!

(Sidenote: 1/11/16 revision updates some links related to Dr. John Whitcomb that were not working. Apologies for any frustration.)

Diagnosing & Treating Vitamin B12 Deficiency

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In February of 2012, I was diagnosed with pernicious anemia. I started writing a book about my experiences trying to get a correct diagnosis for long-standing, life-altering physical symptoms. While researching for my book, I saw Sally Pacholok, RN, speak about her, and Jeff Stuart’s book, “Could It Be B12?: Epidemic of Misdiagnoses” on YouTube in a video called, Diagnosing and Treating Vitamin B12 Deficiency. This video inspired me to do more to get the word out about the prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency, and was the inspiration for this blog. For more information about pernicious anemia, you can also consult the Pernicious Anaemia Society website.

Also, please share this video liberally:

I welcome comments regarding content, but also, since I’m new to blogging, I welcome suggestions on how best to present my material.

I also have a blog which covers my creative endeavors. You can find “The World Is My Atelier,” at thereseguise.wordpress.com

Be Well & B12!