Yesterday, on my way in to see my doctor I shared this pic on social media along with the caption “Heading in to dr appointment to have B-12 levels checked again. Was super low at last appointment and dr wanted me to come in weekly for shot BUT I decided I wanted to try and get it up on my own. Pretty sure the B-12 Vitamin gummies I have been eating have done jack shit but worth a shot. Or should I say worth trying to avoid getting a weekly shot! We shall see.”
Which brought about some great discussions in a few of the MS groups I am in. Prior to having my blood work done last spring and receiving a message from my doctor that my “levels were low” I had never even thought about my B12. I was surprised to discover how many MSers out there actually did know about their own B12 and to learn that testing levels might be recommended if you:
- experience tingling in your hands or feet
- issues with balance
Check, check, checkity check. According to Healthline, low levels of B12 can lead to permanent nerve damage, deteriorating brain function and memory loss. Ah,again check, check and check!:) In their article 21 Important Facts About Vitamin B12 Deficiency Health.com says “some of the earliest signs of a deficiency include feeling dragged, confused, and weak.” I’m pretty sure that most MSers would say that would describe them. Because many of the signs of B12 deficiency can be attributed to the simple fact that we have MS and these things are a given, you may be like me and have never given it a thought.
Last night I received an email from the lab at my doctor’s office. They were done testing my blood AND….the mind blowing news is that my levels are up! As in to a “good/normal/acceptable” level. Here’s the truth, it’s NOT that I doubted the delicious gummies, it’s that I doubted my own regiment of actually remembering to EAT them every day, or even every other day. Some weeks I would be great about it, and others not so much. It didn’t help that I misplaced the jar for about 3 weeks somewhere in the middle of the big move this summer. So heading in yesterday I was pretty damn sure that I would be signing up for weekly B12 injections for the next month or so. Some of the group members mentioned giving themselves the injections, but remembering my fiascos of giving myself shots in the past (Shooting Up An Orange Avonex: Just Do It) I knew that wasn’t going to be an option. Imagine my surprise (and delight) to discover that for the moment that won’t be necessary – SHOTS avoided!!!!! And I can keep eating these delicious gummies.
B12 levels are measured based on picograms per milliliter (pg/mL) According to the information provided with my test results 180 – 914 pg/mL is considered “standard range” and between 145-179 pg/mL is considered “deficient.” Last spring my results showed my level as being 159 and yesterday, I scored a 306 pg/mL. It’s amazing what a small medical accomplishment can mean to me. I paraded around the house all night, repeating “hey, did you hear I passed?” “Did you know that I passed my test today?” I am pretty sure Shawn and the kids were about ready to kick me out. Good thing the World Series was on to distract them!
As with so many things when it comes to modern medicine and the internet, one will find the advise on “appropriate levels” to vary. According to Healthline below 150 pg/mL is considered low, 200 to 600 pg/mL is normal and 800 pg/mL is high. WebMD says 110–1500pg/mL is normal and Medline Plus says normal values are 200 to 900 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL) But as they point out “Normal ranges can also vary from laboratory to laboratory, so it’s important to discuss your results with your doctor.” But the take away for me is that my new levels are within all these sources “normal” range, and so therefore today, I am apparently NORMAL!!!!!!
But this did bring about a good point – which is that I need to remember to be proactive in my own care and to be my own advocate. Even the best of doctors is not going to think about me and what I need all the time. That’s my job! I tend to shy away from doing much research about these types of things mainly because there can be such varying opinions and information that I just get overwhelmed and end up feeling more confused than when I started.
As I said in my first post of 2016
“I am not ever going to be the one to embrace the complete “holistic” way of living (vegan eating, green smoothie slurping, yoga going gal doesn’t seem to be in my future) but I do know that I am growing, a work in progress, learning more and more about myself. I am spending time realizing things about me and finally putting myself first….sometimes. What I am choosing to take away from this is that everything in moderation is a great way to face life”
But in addition to moderation, I need to stop and listen to my own body and what feels right or good and to continue to seek out things that will allow for a healthier version of me, MS or not. I will continue to read about Multiple Sclerosis and I look forward to many more great conversations. There are so many unknowns about living with a disease like MS, but educating myself is something that I can control and is one more way to fight back against this stupid fucking thing.
****If you haven’t had your blood levels checked recently it may be something to talk to your doctor about, not only for B12, but all other levels as well.****