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[Grabs smoking jacket and pipe, slips into some tartan slippers, grabs walking stick and hobbles over to the fireplace before turning slowly, leaning on the mantle and  wistfully remonstrating…]

“One of the many  things that I mourn the loss of, in this ever-moving, fast-paced, no time to chat, modern-day  world of ours is casual conversations with your doctor.  It seems to me that nearly all doctors nowadays are so busy that they only operate express checkouts (two items of less) system when you go to see them and at my age only having two items or less wrong with you is a dream no longer realized.”

OK I’ll come clean, I don’t have a smoking jacket (although the idea does appeal to me as does the idea of one of those little round embroidered hats that come complete with tassel), and I am not that old.  But other than that the picture is pretty accurate.   I do hobble rather that walk, do use a walking stick, do smoke a pipe and do have a fireplace.

Additionally and more importantly, it does appear to me that doctors are under such pressure nowadays that they no longer have time to chat and do generally seem to operate an express (two items or less) checkout system of medical care.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule and yesterday saw just one of those exceptions as it was my day for traveling up country to hospital in order for me to receive treatment and to participate in the clinical trial that I signed up for some months back now.

Despite feeling like death warmed up and really having little motivation to go, the fact that I get to see the doctor, psychiatrist, dietitian and physiotherapist all in one day makes it all worth the trip and additionally the fact that the regular visits that I make for clinical trial that I signed up for are all scheduled for the same days made it all worth it.

And it was whilst participating in this clinical trial that the benefits of those ‘casual conversations with the doctor’ that I was commenting on above, was yet again proven.

Having a coffee together as I filled out a lengthy questionnaire related to the clinical trial I was participating in for him, the doctor (whom I like and respect for both his knowledge and his seemingly naturally caring bed-side manner)  asked me how I was doing?  He went on to comment that he was concerned at how fatigued I looked and how he had noticed that I seemed to be having more difficulty walking since the last time we had met.

I of course tried to brush the whole thing off and simply commented that I had not been sleeping too well of late and that my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome appeared to be once again kicking my proverbial butt  of late.   Without missing a stride or breaking the conversation, he reached across for my file, carefully scanned through the somewhat lengthy list of medications that I am on and then casually asked me if I was taking Vitamin D as he didn’t see it on the list?

I explained that I didn’t really take any vitamins as a) no-one had ever suggested it and b) I was under the impression (someone had time me somewhere or other) that outside of specific conditions multivitamins are basically a con and that there was no scientific proof that they serve any benefit.

The conversation that followed was extremely interesting.  He confirmed that what I had been told about multivitamins was basically true and that generally speaking there is to his knowledge little to no scientific evidence that we need to take them or benefit from them BUT that when it comes to such conditions as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia etc there is strong evidence that a high percentage of sufferers have low Vitamin D levels and actually do benefit from taking Vitamin D and Calcium Tablets.

He then rushed off to check my previous blood results (obviously gleaned from the 15 vials of blood that he takes from me each visit as part of this clinical trial) and returned with a prescription and confirmation that my Vitamin D levels were indeed extremely low.

Now to put this all into context, I have to tell you that I have suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (the type that also affects your immune system) although it was first diagnosed as Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME) for over  27 years now and because of other health issues that I have most of the treatments that are offered in response to it are not available to me.  But at no time has any doctor, prior to this, even mentioned my Vitamin D levels.

So I came home and after resting, did a bit of research and I have to say the level of information and evidence is pretty compelling.  Among the articles that I found are…

“Vitamin D & Muscle Pain:

Low vitamin D levels can cause muscle pain and weakness. Studies show that as many as 25% of people with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS) have low vitamin D levels, and that supplementation may help lower pain levels in some cases. One study shows that vitamin D-deficient people need twice as much narcotic pain reliever as non-deficient people.

Your body needs vitamin D to help with calcium absorption and for bone growth and strength. Along with calcium, vitamin D protects you from osteoporosis. [More…] 1

I also found this one…

Vitamin D is one of the most frequently recommended supplements for people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, and with good reason. But is your supplement doing enough for you?

Vitamin D is responsible for a host of functions in your body — bone health, cellular replication, insulin production, immune function, heart health … the list goes on and on.[More…]2

And this one…

While chronic fatigue syndrome can significantly reduce a person’s energy level, the effects can be managed with proper treatment. This can be done through diet, exercise, sleep habits, and daily nutritional supplements, such as vitamins. One such vitamin that has been said to help relieve the effects of chronic fatigue syndrome is Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps to regulate immunity functions of monocytes and neutrophils, and plays an important role in affecting the immune system and maintaining organ systems, such as bone formation and mineralization. While Vitamin D is largely found in sunlight, it can also be found in such foods as milk and cereals, fish and related oils such as salmon, catfish, and tuna, eggs, yogurt and bread. [More…]3

Because of my current stage on the clinical trial that I am on we have agreed that I won’t actually start the Vitamin D and Calcium until after my next visit as starting it now could cloud the validity of the results of the trial but I have to tell you that I am somewhat encouraged by this.

I am also somewhat frustrated by the fact that even though I have had this condition well over 27 years (which is when I was first diagnosed with it) this is the first that I have heard of it.

Now I am no doctor (let me stress that very clearly – I AM NO DOCTOR) and of course it is entirely possible that everyone in the world but me knew this. But my advice,  to anyone suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome(CFS), Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (CFIDS), Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME)  or Fibromyalgia (FMS), or indeed any condition where muscle or joint pain is a predominant feature, is that you speak to your doctor about your Vitamin D levels and with a view to getting them checked and seeing if this could benefit you in some way.

I know that in the opening of this piece I did to some degree wax lyrical concerning the lack of time that doctors have in which to treat us nowadays but I really do think that this is a major concern within our current health care.

Let me be very clear here. I would be first to defend our doctors and health care professionals and the last to recommend going it alone or self-medicating.  I am NOT suggesting this at all nor am I recommending that everyone goes out and stocks up and Vitamin D. But I do think there maybe some advantage in anyone suffering from this kid of condition who is not already on a Vitamin D supplement , consulting with there doctor in respect of it.

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