Uh, Duhhh…

As I’ve written here before, we stopped eating most meat several months ago. I eat seafood occasionally, chicken very rarely, and pork and red meat almost never. We started cutting back on meat for three reasons: 1. to lower our cholesterol; 2. to avoid the chemicals and hormones they pump into livestock now and 3. because I read the book Skinny Bitch and my eyes were opened to the horrible things that go on in slaughter houses (not just animal abuse, but also meat contamination). Every time I’ve ever had food poisoning, I’ve been able to trace it to some form of meat.

Sometime last April, I started getting this weird heat sensation on the outside of my left calf. The first time it happened, we were on the road and I was sitting up in the bed in our RV, working on my laptop. I felt sudden, burning heat that forced me to jerk my leg up and dig under the covers, seeing if the power box from my laptop somehow got stuck in there. That’s how hot the sensation was! Nothing was under the covers and my leg wasn’t red, and didn’t feel hot at all from the outside. I was pretty startled but didn’t give it much more thought after it ended a couple of seconds after it began.

However, it happened again the next morning, and the next afternoon, and with increasing frequency, and in more locations. It started on my left calf, then happened on my right outer thigh, and then on the back of my right shoulder. Over the weeks, as these symptoms were spreading, I was also going through my bout with diverticulitis, as well as the antibiotic poisoning, so I was more concerned with that than the burning heat sensations, thinking I could only deal with one medical scare at a time. I knew the heat wasn’t from my antibiotics because it started a few weeks before I was put on all those drugs.

I recovered from the antibiotic poisoning but the heat sensation continued. It stopped happening everywhere except on my left, outer calf, where it originally began, but it was happening several times a day on most days, but only a couple of times a day on others. I just couldn’t understand it.

Of course, I googled it and found lots of people complaining about the exact same thing but, oddly, nobody seemed to know what it was. The left calf also seemed to be the most common location of the heat sensation for others. Some people posted notes to medical forums saying they’d been to their doctor with the complaint, but had gotten the “you’re crazy” look from him/her. That wasn’t encouraging. I did learn it was probably neurological (nerve-related) but that any number of things could be causing it, from diabetes to numerous other chronic disorders, or even a brain tumor. Of course, I Googled all those other disorders and quickly figured out I didn’t have any of them. So, the only possible diagnosis was a brain tumor, which got me pretty worked up and worried. You see, my father died of a brain tumor at the age of 30, when I was five years old, so my paranoia about brain tumors is deeply ingrained in my psych.

During the week that I self-diagnosed my own phantom brain tumor, I was just too busy to go to the doctor, which would means tons of tests. I just wasn’t ready to start another mystery medical journey, fraught with worry, so soon after my recent extended illness from the antibiotics.

While Googling my symptoms, however, I remembered that somebody had mentioned Vitamin B12 somewhere along the way. I asked our daughter to drive to the health food store to pick some up. I figured it sure couldn’t hurt. She returned home with the tiny bottle, talking about how expensive the drops were. I read the label, looking for the correct dosage, and I burst out laughing with relief. There was my diagnosis, in black and white: “Because Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products, strict vegetarians are at risk of developing Vitamin B12 deficiency and may benefit from supplementation.”

The heat sensations stopped within hours of my first dose of B12…and they haven’t returned.

So, here’s what I learned. Never, ever drastically change your eating habits without first educating yourself thoroughly on the possible consequences and, while the Internet should never be used to diagnose a medical problem…it sure can be a handy research tool on occasion!

This week’s Maxism:

“Mom! Come look! My poop is shaped like the number 9!”

Hugs to all!


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