Don’t Worry, B 12

I’m having company next week. A friend from Scotland is spending a few days with me while airfares are cheap and the weather isn’t too wintry. We’ll probably stroll the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath, grab some grub at Dan’s Tap House and drop by Turn the Page Bookstore.

I have not had company stay overnight at my house for the past fourteen years, at least. The issue isn’t pathological introversion, though I’m VERY introverted, nor do I lack for friends whose company I enjoy.

I just didn’t have the energy. Company is a lot of work. There’s housecleaning to be done, meals to plan, errands that have to be taken care of ahead of time so company isn’t neglected while visiting. There’s clean up and then catch up, and the sheer effort of being “on” for several days at a time. Then there’s the fact that because I do not prioritize housework, getting the premises ready for company has become a sizeable undertaking.

But I’m doing it, and I’m pleased to be tackling the challenge. The spirit has long been willing, but the flesh… for years, the flesh has had all it can do to sit in an ergonomic office chair and type 2000 words a day. The tread desk was the next priority, the law office had to be tended to, and of course, the pets got their due. But I had nothing left for more than subsistence domestication.

What changed?

When I went to the doc a couple months ago, I made my usual lament: Got no juice to spare, and the usual suspects–bad sleep, bad diet, low iron, thyroid disease, Lyme disease–have all been addressed. The doc, a nice lady of mature years to whom I’ve been singing the “no juice” blues for YEARS, asked, “What about B12?”

What about B12? “I had an uncle with pernicious anemia. Showed up in his fifties. I don’t think I’ve been tested for it.”

I got tested, and whaddya know, I needed B12. I started the shots, and within a week, I felt as if somebody had wiped the bug-splat off my mental windshield, as if the sun had come out. I’m not turning handsprings physically, but my mental engine still has compression at noon for a change. I wish I’d thought to test B12 sooner, because I look around now and see a cruddy house that should be cute and cozy (and will be!), a diminished social life, missed opportunities with friends, and other symptoms that could have been so easily treated if somebody had just taken a half-decent family history.

Now, I wonder what other B12’s are lurking in that family history, and in the routines and environments I’ve built up around myself. Sometimes, everything turns on finding the pea under the mattresses, on asking even one casual, obvious-in-hindsight question.  Are there peas lurking under your mattress? Small changes that have made a big impact? Little questions that have led to big insights?

To one commenter, I’ll send one of those praline and truffle assortments from the Highland Chocolatier, because that choice was VERY popular last week.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

76 comments on “Don’t Worry, B 12

  1. Sounds stupid, but installing an app on my phone that puts a small hurdle in to make me think twice about checking my emails when I wake up overnight has made a big difference to how rested I am. The temptation to look at Facebook etc during the baby’s night feeds was too strong for me otherwise!

    • Facebook is due for a spell in the time out chair, I think. The site was purposely designed to be addictive–and that’s without the games, apps, fake news, and video content. They did that and turned a blind eye to how all the user data would be exploited by advertisers. I’m cutting back on my FB time week by week, and feeling less anxious and negative as a result.
      Good on you, for making the tech work for you. You NEED your rest!

  2. I have had to get B12 shots as well, you can tell the difference once they kick in.
    I am sitting here right now trying to get in the mood to decorate my house for Christmas. Sometimes I feel that there is so much to do and a short time to do it. Hope you visit with you friend is a great one.

    • Maybe Santa Claus should bring you another dose of B12. I keep telling myself, “It’s not even December yet…” But it’s mighty close to December, and then trying to get anything done–mail a package, pick up a set of sheets–becomes three times more tedious.
      Will wish you a peaceful, organized holiday season.

    • Sure is… I went through something similar with iron deficiency anemia at various times. I recall being pregnant and anemic. Doc said to go straight to the pharmacy and get some iron… which I did. I took a pill in the store, before I went to the check out. By the time I was walking out to my car, I felt a difference.
      We are amazing creatures.

  3. I can relate to your post and I should probably get my B12 levels tested. I would almost guarantee that they are low. Enjoy your company and enjoy the clean house! I often find that having company is the best way to get my house clean and then I get to enjoy that along with the company.

  4. now you’re making me wonder about my own B12 level and I do know for a fact that my mom once had to have B12 shots. For me it’s just ‘worn out/worn down/done in’ but it’s the holiday baking season (7 pies so far), shopping season (that mom is 84 and does not drive; I shop for her, for me, and pick up groceries for a disabled uncle as well so my cup runneth over). I too am introverted to the 9th degree, have no interest in socializing, not even at Christmas but I also live in a tiny tiny apt with no room, my books are on shelves as well as stacked on the floor. I’m going to have to box things up and put them literally out in the car to clear space for my grandson to visit. Just now in the past few days I realized my potassium levels were low. Now maybe B12 too

    • Galyn, it’s worth getting it checked out. B12 is one of those tricky nutrients that doesn’t always get absorbed, depending on what else you’re eating, what’s in your water supply, what’s going on with your gut culture. You need it for many reasons, and yet, it’s also a deficiency that can get swept under the rug with platitudes like, “We all slow down as we age,” or, “You just try to do too much,” or, “It’s a busy time of year.”

  5. I’m not sure why you feel bad – shouldn’t your MD have suggested it? But I’m glad it got figured out so you can enjoy feeling better!

    • It’s documented fact that the medical profession generally doesn’t take women’s discomfort seriously, whether we’re tired, achy, down, anxious… I’m glad the doc DID get around to looking at B12, and that I had the money to do the testing and get the medication.

  6. Happy Sunday to you! It is nice when there is a clear explanation as to the cause of a problem, an acknowledgment of the existence of said problem and then a solution provided to solve that problem. I am glad that the solution is helping you to feel better. Sometimes it is the littke things that make such a difference. I think that for me having a few chronic conditions has made it easier to understand that feeling unwell is often tied to physical health and is not my being lazy or bad. It makes it easier to accept my limitations and see that compromise and some adjustments can make quality of life so much better. Thank you so much for your wonderful books. They are cherished friends that help to make me feel better about my limitations. Hope that you enjoy your visit and have a blessed week!

    • Books have been such friends to me too, Amy. I’ve been able to write even when I wasn’t up to tackling the house work. I’ve been able to read when nothing else could calm the monkeys of anxiety cavorting around in my mind. Books are magic.

  7. I can relate much to your blog. I am so busy on treadmill of life (aka work) that I don’t socialize much and housekeeping is not a priority either. So when I do have company, I rush around cleaning everything, including baseboards, under the furniture, tidying closets, etc. Then there is all the prep, constant cooking and cleaning up when the guests are here, and then post clean up. The resulting memories are worth it all, though. Then there is the B12 and iron issue. I finally got my B12 and Iron into the range and then a new doctor said no, it needs to be in the middle of the range to feel good. Something I wish I’d known years earlier. Thanks so much for sharing. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. Also thanks for sharing your writing. You and Nora Roberts are the only two authors I pre-commit to when a new book is coming out. Enjoy your time with your friend. The dust really doesn’t matter. 😉

    • Thanks heavens for the new doc… And that you’d put me in the same category as Nora Roberts!!! You might give Joanna Bourne a try. That woman is a genius when it comes to historical romance. Never picked up one of hers that wasn’t a keeper.

      • I keep rereading your regency and Victorian books. I keep rereading Alice Coldbreath books. Her medieval series and kingdom she created is a new place to escape to. I reread Ruth Ann Nordin’s regencies. All three of you authors write in other eras, but to me I have picked the ones I like best and reread only those. I tried your contemporary books, but to me your original manuscripts will always be the best.

  8. I’m having overnight guests for Christmas – first time in many years too! My niece & her new husband will be staying with me because her Mom’s house will be very full with the son & daughter-in-law plus three little boys, and probably the other son & his girlfriend. I have to do some cleaning, but more cleaning out & stashing things that are piled in the room that they will be staying in. I’ll have to check out that B12 – I often feel very draggy – but it will have to wait til after the holidays.

    • Sounds like the whole fam-damily is gathering, and what fun that will be! I am doing a lot of tossing–or piling up behind the summer kitchen until the Nice Man can do a dump run. My mom was very good about not collecting clutter, and I thought I at least got that gene… but 25 years in the same house, and clutter happens.

  9. I know that “company” anxiety very well. Though I’ve hosted the family holidays for years, I still have the panic and anxiety every single time. In recent years, health problems have cropped up and I’m very sad to have to take medication now, and the meds do a good job of zapping the little energy I do have. I’m so glad you’ve been helped by the B12 shots. Wishing you good times with your Scottish guest.

    • Cleaning is insidious. You notice the baseboards are kinda streaky, so you clean the baseboards, and that means you come slap up against the dust woofies under the couch, and that means you realize the windowsills are overdue for a scrubbing, and the windows, and the…
      I think for Christmas, I might hafta hire myself a professional cleaning service.

  10. For years I have been complaining to doctors that something was wrong I have always felt they were humoring me with different test. Finally, they ran the right test and things have changed some. I feel vindicated. I am not going crazy something is wrong. Have an appointment with surgeon on Tuesday.

    • GRRRR. I’m glad you persisted, but criminy… do they think we just like to hear ourselves talk? That we sit around in waiting rooms for the fun of it? That we invent symptoms for our own amusement? Somebody should write a book…

  11. I lose weight (eventho I eat what I want and even snack), feel good enough to do more than just what I NEED to do and am nicer when I exercise regularly. Son # 2 went off to Law School in September and I decided to give myself a regular Barre (ol’ ballet dancer, dontcha know)during the week.

    I’ve roped Son #3 into joining me, and we stretch, bend and do some Alexander Technique (if you don’t know about this, you should) breathing together early every weekday morning if we don’t have a meeting or rehearsal conflict. S#3 is also a professional musician, so centering and focusing on body alignment and mindful breathing is good for him too. It has made a huge difference for both of us.

    I’ve lost weight and my thighs are firmer. I can tell if I’ve missed too many days (like last week) because I don’t feel as energized. I wish I had done this years ago instead of trying to power walk or jog 3 times a week—I never could schedule those things regularly enough to make a difference. But with my Barre (I don’t use a real Barre either), I throw on sweats, grab a dining room chair and off we go!

    • I know my dancer buddies used to say that if they missed class two days in a row, they felt cruddy–physically AND mentally. That whole business of finding your physical center so you can dance ON the music rather than just TO the music must be as much mental as kinesthetic.
      I was allowed to take all the modern dance I wanted to at the studio where I accompanied classes, but I never had a chance to take ballet. Hmmm…

  12. Hmm. I am going to ask about b12 at my doctors visit next week !

    I had a busy week cleaning, cooking and hosting Thanksgiving dinner and working. I realized Friday morning that I accomplished a lot in less than a week.

    I realized that I wrote a list and found that the check off list helped me when I got overwhelmed.
    I had gotten away from my list making — and have put list making back as a priority!

    Enjoy your time with your friend! Have a fantastic time!!

    • Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, not only because it’s great food and all about family and gratitude, but because most of us get a couple days (if not three days) to enjoy all the leftovers and recover. I think that’s a good ratio–two or three recovery days for every day of holiday.

  13. Yes, I do monthly B12 shots which are a better and better idea as one ages. Glad you are experiencing an energy renewal — you must have SO much energy at your pace of writing, even when depleted.

    And, drool, on the chocolate!

    • The chocolate is as scrumptious as it is beautiful. My tour group stopped in at the shop last year on the way back to the country house where we stayed… hustling everybody onto the bus took some doing (and JK Rowling bought a house just up the valley from the Highland Chocolatier. I suspect that was not a coincidencce).

  14. I’ve found going for a walk or using my elliptical (in the winter) before work helps me feel more awake throughout the day then sleeping in the extra half hour. I also feel refreshed at work if I go for a short walk to help clear my head.

    • There is so much data that says moving and getting a glimpse of the sky can work wonders. I don’t have curtains on the window near my bed, precisely because I want to open my eyes and see sunshine if there’s sunshine going on outside.

  15. Believe it or not, I’ve just had to have a course of B12 injections too! I’m definitely feeling more positive and able to begin tackling some of the jobs that need to be done. Glad you’re feeling better and hope you have a wonderful time with your visitor.

  16. There’s now a pharmacogenetics test for those whose insurance might cover a portion. I had mine done via Mayo Clinic and it was the best $250 co-pay I ever spent. Now, instead of playing Russian roulette with my body every time a doc decides to try a new drug on me and constant accusations of subjective or anecdotal reporting on my behalf, I can point to hard evidence that I simply can NOT metabolize every drug shoved at me in certain common drug families, so look for an alternate. It won’t show everything as genetic markers haven’t been completely mapped, but it checks for 350 at present and has gone a long way toward stopping MDs for blaming the patient for something she has absolutely NO control over.

    • Wow. Good to know, and what a shame that you have to out-science the docs to get a fair hearing. Not a good feeling, I’m sure. I feel for the medical professionals in our current system, but if they don’t take the patient seriously, what’s the point of spending time in their offices?

  17. How coincidental is the subject of this week’s blog. I went to my doctor earlier this month complaining of joint and muscle aches. Not pain, but aches. And, the aches seemed to relocate almost daily. Lyme was addressed as I’ve suffered from chronic Lyme for years. These aches were different. “Tell me what’s been going on”, she asked. I conveyed all I did during our recent move from an apartment into our newly built house. Like, I unpacked 102 boxes in 5 days. She is aware I have osteoarthritis. She told me I could perform all I did during the move if I were 30, not my current, senior age. She prescribed an anti inflammatory drug I have taken before, but now it’s time released. I feel like a new woman. I get out of bed and go through the day without pain. YEAH!

    • And is there ANYTHING more stressful than moving? Yes, actually: Death of a loved one. That’s it, at least on the usual stress scales. No wonder you felt creaky, and let’s hear for a doc who LISTENS.

  18. It took ages but finally I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis…autoimmune diseases are sneaky and throw all kinds of symptoms that get treated individually but don’t get that overall “bug wipe” effect. Now I am on the right medication, that treats the issue and I can tolerate…life is much sweeter (hint ).

    • I’m in the autoimmune boat with you–Hashimoto’s. Going to the doc and announcing, “I feel like crap,” is not exactly a laser-beam list of symptoms, but it’s about all I had for years… and that was after I was diagnosed and medicated. I’m glad you happened upon somebody who could connect the dots and find the right meds. Makes SUCH a different to get some relief from symptoms.

  19. Ten years ago, when my job became available without my knowledge or desire. I asked myself what did I really want to be as a grown up now? It was to teach high school! The best blessing ever.

    • I could never have foreseen myself writing romance novels OR becoming a child welfare attorney. They’ve both been great jobs for me, but if you’d asked me as a younger woman where I wanted to end up, it would have been on a family farm, with a passel of kids, and big garden. Now, I think, “Farming is one of the toughest jobs and the world and among the most dangerous… what was I thinking?”

  20. It’s amazing how alive B12 makes one feel. For a few years I would mention on & off how getting older really saps all my energy and motivation to do anything. !mentally I wanted to do so many things but physically it just wasn’t there. Had blood work done and it was both B12 and Vitamin D I was lacking. Prescription vitamin D and shots of B12 made me feel so alive again. It seems to run in the females of my family. You’ll feel so much better Grace. Have fun with your guest. 🙂

    • It apparently runs in mine too, but is also one of those pesky “declines as we age” problems, so I’m glad–really glad–my doc thought to test for it. I do feel more alert, better able to focus, better able to retain, and like I’m sleeping better.

    • Thanks, Tammy, but what I have going on here is… years of minimal effort. I wasn’t seeing it, because the damage accumulates incrementally. A little fly-specking in summer, a little dust in winter… and pretty soon, I’m too busy trying to sort out the next duke to realize the state of my nest. But having ploughed back the darkness, I do not intend to let it take over my house again.

  21. I feel tired all the time, and my mom has vitamin B12 deficiency. Guess I should probably get tested too. But, oh, the inertia!

    • Isn’t that the truth? A big part of the challenge is that you feel lousy, really, really lousy in an invisible way. I put it to my doctor like this: It’s November. My calendar still says September, because flipping the pages is not in the energy budget. My clocks are all still an hour off, because again… effort. I don’t grocery shop unless I’m out of pet food… Her response, “So you have a procrastination problem?”
      “No, I do not. I have never missed a deadline. I have an ENERGY problem.”
      I will wish you a visit from the blue bird of motivation, because the difficulty might be as simple as a lab test and a script.

  22. Sounds like you are going to have a wonderful time with your friend Grace! I’m thinking they will understand if the house isn’t spotless. I’m definitely one of those who put a perfectly spotless house below other priorities.

    I am going to have to check into B-12 shots – both for me and my daughter who has a blood clotting disorder with effects similar to lupus. The women in my family have a history of circulatory system issues and I’ve tried to ignore my varicose veins for years. Most doctors and insurance companies have maintained that the vericose veins were only an aesthetic problem. However a recent minor cut on top of one turned into an impressive bleeder and trip to the ER has made me realize it is time to look into treatment for the veins for real this time. I just hope my insurance company will agree with the ER doctor.

    Enjoy your time with your friend, Grace!

    • I think, regardless of our political leanings, regardless of our economic status, every person on this blog has an example of their insurance company putting patient health at risk. I hope the ER visit is a wake up call for some coverage clerk, and that you the care you need.

  23. I currently have a very busy schedule. I’ll be quite happy when December 14th gets here. I have been good about food and exercise. I am not perfect. I am currently sucking on a tootsie pop lollipop, but on the whole I have done pretty good. I went for a walk during lunch. I am now over 10,000 steps. I am currently listening to Moneyball by: Michael Lewis while I walk. I am enjoying this book. The weather is also lovely. Nutrition, water, exercise, good friends all help with my well-being.

    • The little things can add up to big positives. I figured out about a month into law school that the secret to survival (which equated with success for me at the time) was simply to get enough sleep. It was a long four years (working full time, going to school five nights a week), but as long as I didn’t try any superhero sleep-deprivation maneuvers, I could keep up.

  24. I don’t entertain much, but there are a lot of people through the house. They are happy for a bed, a working toilet and shower, good wi-if and access to a coffee pot. We are ahead of the health department here, but run heavier to comfort than beauty. Yes, y’all are welcome! Also, my visitors aren’t looking for dust. They have their own.

    A doctor told my husband a year ago to “watch his diet.” In a bit of a panic, I signed up for an internet “diet” that addresses his (and my) dietary issues. Not only do we both feel better, we’ve both lost 10 pounds. The provider gives not only suggested menus, but shopping lists.

    The other big, big improvement, an adjustable bed!

    • I don’t like the modifications I’ve made to my diet. They leaves me with a constant sense of deprivation. I intend to get over that–one little heart attack could deprive me of my life, so bring on the celery sticks.

  25. I had an infection for much longer than I should have, because I thought I was just spending too much time swimming every week. A visit to the doctor led to a treatment and I am now feeling much better. Somewhere there should be a “women check yourself for these symptoms” list. It would have helped me.
    I’m glad you are feeling better.

    • I agree. The first and only “health” class I took was in eighth grade, and was mostly intended to scare us away from sex, drugs, and drinking. I guess that’s relevant for people fourteen years old, but there’s life after fourteen. It’s interesting you bring this up. The university I attended, as part of it’s freshman orientation, made every student take a swimming test, because nobody with a college education (so the thinking went) should drown for lack of basic swimming class. (If you opted out of the test, or flunked, you simply took basic swimming at some point in the next four years.) They also did a TB test…
      Would it really be that much of an imposition to require some health education, or at least make it available, after middle school? Might save us all a lot of misery and expense.

  26. I had an infection that I thought was just dry skin from swimming. I tried moisturizer and no change. I finally went to the doctor and was given a prescription. I’m fine now and feel sheepish that I didn’t go to the doctor sooner. I’m glad you are feeling better.

  27. My son has Celiac and we found out when he was a toddler and because he was a opportunistic eater and would sneak a bite from everyone else’s helpings, I made the house gluten free instead of just his diet. I hadn’t realized (possibly because of the sleep deprivation) how tired (not just sleepy) I was, the brain-fog and the slight but ever present inflammation but once I was also gluten free I suddenly felt so much better. Added to my Vitamin d supplements, it made such a difference.

    I am glad that they figured out what was going on and that you are able to go back to cheese!

    • Interesting… this is on the list of suspected reasons married men live long than single guys. The lady of the house passively encourages better eating habits, and a better lifestyle in general. Your son’s illness (and it can be unrelenting misery) improved everybody else’s health.

  28. So nice of you to give us another chance at the chocolate! It does look very good. 🙂

    As for me, I wouldn’t be surprise if I have some kind of vitamin deficiency. I do feel sluggish throughout the day sometimes. Unfortunately, I don’t have health insurance so I can’t get tested unless I am feel really crappy.

    Happy the b12 is making you feel better though! I know a few people who get the shots and feel a lot better on them.

  29. Social media has been my “pea”! I have gotten too caught up in Twitter it is affecting my reading time and with so much stupid depressing news my mood is affected!

    • You are not alone. The data seems to be that social media is like a lot of habits: there’s a little shot of dopamine as you start to scroll–this is interesting! Oh, what a cute kitten!–but the overall effect is a worse mood, more anxiety, and pessimism. I’m cutting back as much as I can without giving up the kitten pics.

  30. As someone on health care and as a sufferer, thyroid should always be checked too. And get supplements before getting thyroid medication