I’m not much one for sharing personal tidbits, but this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot for the past couple of days.
For the past few years, I’ve been very tired all of the time. I chalked it up to being “teacher-tired” and just being a fact of life for my chosen profession. I had enough energy to wake up in the morning, get ready for work, and make it through the day, but by the time I would get home I would be beat.
I would think, “Maybe I’m just getting older?” After all, I’m not a college kid anymore who can just keep go, go, going all the time. Or, I’d think that this is just how most teachers feel, but they’re much better at handling it than I am.
After complaining about being tired one too many times, my mom did her mom thing and put her foot down and insisted I go to the doctor. She was worried I was depressed since I didn’t go anywhere or do anything but sleep and watch Netflix after work (I was too tired to do anything else). I thought it was absolutely ridiculous and a total waste of the doctor’s time to go in. This is just what it’s like to be a teacher–we’re all tired all of the time, right? After much insistence, I agreed to make an appointment, mostly just to appease her.
So, thanks to a MLK day off, I was able to go to the doctor on Monday and get a checkup. The doctor wasn’t really sure what was going on, so she ordered a wide spread of 23 blood and urine tests. The first 21 came back later that evening all looking A-OK.
Thursday morning, between the first bell ringing and the end of 1st period, I had missed 3 calls from the doctor’s office. They weren’t able to get ahold of me so they sent me an email that said:
Please call. Let her know that her Vitamin B12 level is very very low. I recommend she:
1) pick up and start taking Vit B12 1000 mg daily. Take that forever.
2) come into Nurse Treatment Room for Vit B12 injections daily for the next 5 business days, then weekly for 3 weeks, then monthly forever.
3) Come for additional lab work (blood)
4) I’m repeating the UA as there were a few red blood cells in her urine/probably OK
5) recheck her B12 levels in 2 months.
In two days, I spent a combined 6 hours at the doctor’s office. I have now been trained to administer my own injections to myself (this is mentally much harder than I would’ve expected). All in all, this should be a very easy thing to adjust to. All I have to do is take a vitamin every day and take a shot once a month. Not too bad. I have to do a few more followup tests and appointments to try to get to the bottom of why my body is not capable of absorbing B12, but that’s about it.
What really strikes me, though, is how I never would’ve gone in if my mom hadn’t urged me to–she really wore me down after asking me to go for months on end. It turns out that the blurry eye vision I’d been having is a symptom of a B12 deficiency. If left untreated, it could’ve caused permanent damage to my optic nerve. Turns out that the tingling I kept getting down my arm wasn’t just leftover pain from an old car accident. Turns out being tired as can be at the end of the day wasn’t what normal teacher-tired felt like.
Although so easily treatable, it scares me a bit to think about what damage could’ve been done if I kept plugging along thinking that this is what it feels like to be a teacher–utterly tired all of the time–and hadn’t gone into the doctor because of that mentality. I’m only two days into the treatment plan, but I’m optimistic.
My biggest hope in sharing this story is that it serves as a mental reminder that your diminished health should not be a given as part of the teaching profession. It’s not normal. If you’re ever feeling off, don’t be so quick to assume it’s just part of the job. I was foolish and put off going to the doctor for a long time when I could’ve gone earlier and gotten the proper treatment.