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The GAPS Support Group on Yahoo! is a great resource. They have been helping me sort through some issues this week with me and Jonas, and I am very hopeful that we are moving in the right direction.

I have, in the last couple days, become convinced that I have a rather developed B12 deficiency. I am currently reading the book, Could It Be B12?, and it actually made me cry because I felt validated, and I felt hopeful, and I felt anxious because, oh my goodness, is it serious if not addressed. It made me cry because I thought, “this is why I feel like crap – I’m not crazy.” Sometimes I start feeling like a hypochondriac. I know I’m not, but I think I seem normal to people, and that makes me feel like people don’t get that I don’t feel good, and then I think, maybe I am just dwelling on this too much all of a sudden and making myself feel worse. But for so long – too long – I have just swept aside the fact that I don’t feel good. For years, I have ignored what my body was trying to tell me, and I am so thankful that GAPS has made me honestly evaluate my state of health. Now, my body is at a point where things can’t be ignored. My body is screaming at me. My health seems to be rapidly deteriorating. Thankfully, if it is B12, there is a pretty simple (and inexpensive) fix, and I am hopeful that with treatment, I will feel better. Better than I have felt in a long, long time. If it’s not B12, well, I’m not really ready to think about that yet. There are some serious diagnoses that could go with some of my symptoms.

More significant signs of B12 deficiency have only surfaced in recent months – the signs that put together with earlier symptoms really point to B12. I don’t know why it has coincided with the diet. It could be coincidence. They say that being on GAPS peals back the layers of sickness. That the body masks certain symptoms when it can’t deal with everything. Once certain things begin to heal, new problems can surface, and while people may think the diet is making them sicker, it is actually just that your body becomes ready to deal with things it couldn’t before and so new symptoms appear. I don’t know if that is really true, but maybe that is what is happening.

So what are the symptoms of B12 Deficiency?

According to the book, symptoms include:

(I’ve italicized those that I experience).

Mental Changes

  • irritability
  • apathy 
  • sleepiness
  • suspiciousness (paranoia)
  • personality changes
  • depression
  • memory loss
  • dementia, intellectual deterioration
  • hallucinations, violent behavior
  • in children, developmental delay and/or autistic behavior

(I feel I have experienced intellectual deterioration, but I suspect that it is due more to the general exhaustion I live with. My mind feels so dull. It is difficult to have a meaningful conversation. Like it is just too much effort and I just can’t focus and follow enough to respond well. I used to love to talk about and explore ideas. Now, I just can’t hold up my end of an interesting conversation. When put side by side with dementia, I do feel silly saying “I have intellectual deterioration,” I mean, I am a far cry from having dementia, but when I think about what my mind can’t do anymore, it is apparent to me, that whatever the cause, my brain isn’t functioning well).

Neurological Signs and Symptoms

  • abnormal sensations (pain, tingling and/or numbness of legs, arms, trunk or other area)
  • diminished sense of touch, pain, and/or temperature
  • loss of position sense (awareness of body position)
  • weakness (legs, arms, trunk or other area)
  • clumsiness (stiff or awkward movements)
  • tremors
  • symptoms mimicking Parkinson’s or MS
  • spasticity of muscles
  • incontinence
  • paralysis
  • vision changes
  • damage to the optic nerve

Vascular Problems

  • transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes)
  • stroke
  • coronary artery disease
  • heart attack
  • congestive heart failure
  • palpitations
  • orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure when standing, which can cause fainting and falls)
  • deep vein thrombosis (blood clot to the leg or arm)
  • pulmonary embolism (blood clot to the lung)

(I haven’t experienced blood clots in the deep veins, but three times in the last year an a half, I have had a blood clot near the side of my knee. I have varicose veins that started before I was even out of high school, and they get worse as the years (and pregnancies) go by. The first time this happened, I was in my first trimester with Nolan. By the time I realized there was a problem, the clot had become quite large and painful enough to make me limp when I walked. Though concerning, in light of my bad veins, I thought it was due to increased blood volume with the pregnancy. Once resolved, I didn’t think it would happen again. But in February of this year and again recently, I experienced a small clot in the same location. They were smaller than a pea and resolved in a week or so without issue. I don’t know if this is B12 related or something else).

Additional Signs and Symptoms

  • shortness of breath
  • generalized weakness
  • chronic fatigue or tiredness
  • loss of appetite/weight loss or anorexia
  • epigastric pain (poor digestion)
  • gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, constipation)
  • osteoporosis
  • increased susceptibility to infection
  • in newborns and infants, failure to thrive
  • tinnitus (ringing or roaring in the ears)
  • vitiligo (white patches on skin)
  • prematurely gray hair

(In recent weeks, I have found myself holding my breath a lot. Like all of a sudden I notice I am simply not breathing, and then I try to focus on it and breathe deeply. I experience general shortness of breath as well, but I don’t know if the not breathing is related).

Other symptoms I came across in my research, and pertain to me include:

  • easy bruising or bleeding
  • poor wound healing
  • chest pain
  • leg cramps
  • dry skin (it’s the middle of summer, and even with the humidity, my legs are dry and flaky)
  • brittle nails with ridges
  • ‘the sighs’
  • anemia (not certain I am anemic)

I have mentioned previously that I started having trouble with leg cramps. That was maybe around March. Maybe earlier. I naturally assumed it was a mineral deficiency. They did go away for a while, but they’ve been back for some time, despite supplementation. A lack of B12 would explain why I continue to have the cramps. Sometime after the cramps developed, I started experiencing tingling in my limbs – like you feel when your feet have had a lack of circulation and fall asleep. It’s mild tingling. First, it only happened once in a while. I noticed it when I would stretch in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning. It became more common as the last month has gone on, and now I have it frequently on and off during the day. Now, the latest development is associated with what they call an abnormal gait. I have only experienced this three or four times in the last couple weeks, but it will likely continue to happen. It feels like my feet are veering off in a different direction than I intend to go – a weird, off balance feeling.  It only lasts for a couple minutes right now. It is the oddest thing. And I think it is what Jonas was experiencing before being put on methylation support when he said his feet felt weird and he felt like he was tripping (though not actually tripping). Yes, he has B12 issues too. (As soon as I can wrap my head around all this, I am going to find a doctor who will order all the tests that the book prescribes to properly evaluate where the kids and I are at. If I am deficient, then my milk did not give them the best start in life. I am concerned about Nolan because I am obviously a lot worse off now than I was four years ago and seven years ago. He is finally starting to eat more and he likes raw egg yolk, so at least he now has a good source of B12, as long as his body is able to absorb it).

And interestingly, a year ago, when I was pregnant with Nolan, there was a point when my midwife was concerned that I might be anemic. I don’t remember what symptoms made her concerned. (Poor memory, courtesy of B12 deficiency)! She checked my iron and she said it was very high for a pregnant woman, and so she assumed I was not anemic. Whether I was/am or not, I don’t know, but I didn’t realize at the time that B12 can also cause anemia.

I have lived with low energy for years, and while I still think I have a metabolism problem, it could be that B12 has played a big role in my fatigue which has grown slowly worse as the months and years go by. I know that my last pregnancy took a big toll on my body. I didn’t feel good the whole pregnancy. It was an underlying, dull nausea and weariness down to my bones and just a feeling of, I know it sounds dramatic, but almost lifelessness. I guess basically, I felt completely drained through a lot of those nine months. After Nolan’s birth, I did feel physically better, but as the months have worn on, I have felt more and more depleted, and now here I am with weird neurological symptoms on top of the fatigue and dullness of mind that have slowly crept over me in the last decade. I just don’t feel good. A lot of days, I have this underlying, subtle nausea (it’s not exactly nausea, but an unsettled feeling for sure) that makes me feel like I need to eat to feel better – to get something my body needs – but a lot of times I don’t feel much better when I eat. And coffee makes me feel awful. I have assumed that my adrenals just can’t handle it, which is probably the case.

I am at a place now where I feel like I can’t handle much of anything. My leg muscles are tired after walking up a single flight of stairs. It is difficult to muster the energy to tackle household chores. Parenting effectively is a rarity right now. I just don’t have the energy and stability of mind and emotion to get in there and get to the heart of issues with the kids, teach them, be a good example, even just play with them and spend time with them. Doing anything with them seems like a big task. Forget going to the park and the zoo. Just listening to their questions and giving them answers has felt overwhelming in recent days. These poor kids. In their own words, I have been pretty crabby lately. Every request of theirs, every upset, seems too much for me to deal with. And then I feel absolutely terrible for my lack of gentle, intentional mothering. I feel agitated. I am quick to loss my patience, to complain, to not sympathize, not listen. I have so many high ideals when it comes to mothering, and I love my kids so dearly. But a lot of days lately, I just can’t seem to make the effort to engage well. I feel it most with the kids, but all my relationships are suffering. I am just so tired. More and more I have been avoiding social situations. Some days, it is all just exhausting. It’s not like every day of my life has been just like this. I am not having a good one today, and that is becoming more and more common lately. So on a bad day, I know everything seems a little worse.

I feel like I am complaining and making too big a deal of things, but I do want a record of where I am right now because later it’s too hard to accurately remember back. I have a lot more to say about B12 and also about Jonas, but I have written enough for now.