Thursday, February 16, 2012

Listening to Your Body

{photo source}
I used to have a lot of issues with my arms and legs falling asleep and going numb.  I have always been easily susceptible to this, but when it got to the point where it was happening more severely and seemingly without cause, constantly throughout the day on a daily basis, I began to worry.  As I like to do, I decided to self-diagnose with the help of the internet (though not Wikipedia).  I came to the conclusion that my limb "paresthesia" (fancy word I learned on the internet) must be caused either by a vitamin deficiency or anemia.

Back story:  I already knew that I was somewhat anemic from various attempts to donate blood and a blood test.  My doctor told me that it wasn't severe enough for me to worry about or treat though.  I thought that seemed odd, but he is the one with the medical degree.

Later, I went to see a walk in doctor for a different condition (I work in a daycare and routinely contract unusual childhood diseases), and thought I'd mention the severe limb numbness I had been experiencing.  She told me not to worry about it.  I was told that unless it started inhibiting my ability to move and function (which it kind of did during the episodes), I shouldn't concern myself with it.  My body was telling me differently, and I felt as though that was an unsatisfactory response.

I had my vitamin levels tested privately (more on that to come in another post), and they were superb.  I ruled that out as being the cause.  The next time I was at Nature's Fare, I noticed a WomenSense IronSense vegetarian iron supplement on sale.  I bought it and began taking one a day.

Now my body is feeling better than ever.  I can sit cross legged, have a child sit in my lap without fear, and wake up without feeling as though my arms are missing.  Those were far off dreams even before it became so severe.  I can't think of the last episode and am thrilled with the improvement.  Especially because I was able to remedy the problem with a simple, somewhat natural solution.  In the summer I hope to be able to get my iron intake high enough from (vegetarian) food alone.

You may be sitting there thinking, "Hm, that was a moderately interesting story."  I'll tell you now that my purpose in sharing this tale is to encourage you to take responsibility for own health.  It is important to listen to your body.  When there are significant changes, be mindful.  Don't always take your doctor's first word as absolute truth.  When you have a concern, educate yourself, keep records, and think critically.  No one knows your body better than you.

Disclaimer: I am not encouraging hypochondria here.  Please do not interpret normal sensations or minor abnormalities as serious conditions or become obsessively preoccupied with your health.  Also, it is not always the right situation to go against a doctor's opinion.  They have studied for years, and they are professionals.  Just be analytical and reflective.

Have you ever questioned or even opposed a doctor's opinion?


  1. Yes. Recently went in with lower abdominal pain. The doctor wanted to give me a prescription for diverticulitis without anything but a conversation. I stood my ground knowing this had to be related to the reproductive system due to other symptoms (and my online research before the appointment). Turns out I have a large ovarian tumor..needless to say, I am seeing someone else this week to get a treatment plan.
    So glad you are doing better!

  2. I can't say I have, but I totally agree with being proactive and trying to treat with supplements and good wellness care! Good for you!

  3. Yes, when I was told my constant lower back pain was arthritis and I was given samples of several arthritis medications with side-effect warning lists big enough to use as wallpaper. The side effects were terrifying so my husband bought a new mattress and I made a chiropractor's appointment. Done. Deal. That was twenty years ago. I still don't have arthritis. I also still don't have an MD. I don't intend to either.

    My elderly mother has been prescribed Warfarin (rat poison) as a blood thinner and is not supposed to eat "too many green vegetables" because it increases the effect of the Warfarin. My thought is that it should replace it. She will probably not die from a stroke, but she probably will, unfortunately, die like a poisoned rat. She has already had episodes where her body is covered in huge, deep purple bruises with no external causes.