All pictures in this post are from a very lovely, sunny afternoon that Milo and I recently spent at Spider House with our friends the Shmananie clan, seeing his bestest pal Jude’s uncle do an acoustic set with his band Paper Bird. It was glorious and Paper Bird are so great, and they’re on tour right now! Check them out if they come through your town.
Last month, I had a wellness visit with a new doctor. We discussed some symptoms I’ve been having (exhaustion, increased appetite, difficulty keeping weight off) and the potential causes. I suspected hormonal imbalance. She agreed with hormonal imbalance, but added to the list anemia and B12 deficiency, and sent me off to have extensive lab tests done to find out what we could find out.
Yesterday, I met with her to discuss the results. Hormonal imbalance? Not so much. My iron and B12 numbers were also fine. Really there was only one huge lab result that stuck out:
I was Vitamin D deficient. “Severely deficient,” emphasized my doctor. The healthy range is 50-80. My number? 15. Oof.
“But I take a Vitamin D supplement!” I protested.
My doctor explained that only 20% of the necessary Vitamin D can come from a dietary source, and the other 80% needs to come from sunshine.
“But I spend time outside every day!” I said. Every day! In Texas! How much more sun can you possibly need? ITALICS!
My doctor said that with a number as low as mine, I would have needed to be sun-deprived for years.
“I lived in Portland, Oregon for seven years,” I offered.
My doctor raised her eyebrows significantly at this and said: “There you go.”
After sitting there completely dumbfounded for a few seconds, I asked: “How is it possible that no doctor has ever tested my Vitamin D levels before?”
My doctor explained that she graduated med school in 1995, and in the entirety of her med school classes, Vitamin D deficiency was discussed for maybe a total of 10 minutes. Most doctors don’t know to test for it, even though most Americans are at least a little—if not a lot—Vitamin D deficient, due to skin care awareness and the American lifestyle of being “too busy” to get outdoors every day.
She wrote me a prescription for dietary Vitamin D, but she also gave me a more serious prescription: “Sunshine, every day, 15 minutes, no sunscreen. And not just your face and hands. As much of your body as possible…without being scandalous,” she teased. (I love my doctor.) She also pointed me to the website Vitamin D Council as a resource for educating myself. (I really love my doctor.)
When I got home from the appointment, the first thing I did was post this on Facebook. I couldn’t believe that I was just finding out about this now. I urged my Portland friends to learn from my mistake and get out there and get as much sun as possible. I heard from friends and family living all over the country that they were in the same boat as me, and were also climbing their way back to optimal health with heavy doses of sunshine and supplements.
Since my appointment, I keep singing the Velvet Underground song, “Who Loves the Sun?” to myself, in which my brother-in-pastiness Lou Reed sings: “Who loves the sun? / Not everyone.” I’m a hater no more, Lou Reed. Get me some sunshine. Right now.