In 2004 I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). I wore a wrist brace every night for about a week and the condition went away. However every three or four weeks my hand would randomly spasm I had to wear the brace for a few days to fix it again. Once I began taking the vitamin D, the spasms became less frequent and eventually stopped altogether. At the time I assumed that the CTS had cleared by itself.
In February 2017 the sky was heavily overcast for about a week. I started waking up to the residual light shows from my dream. I assumed it was because of stress. One time my hand went into a spasm like when I had CTS. I had lightly knocked my elbow two weeks previously so I thought maybe I had bruised a nerve, although it seemed an unlikely explanantion given the interval. Then there were a few days of thick fog such that it was like twilight at midday. I went to make a cup of instant coffee and almost put the coffee powder in the kettle. This was unusual so it sounded an alarm in my head. The next day just before the end of work I was preparing some booklets for shrink wrapping. The booklets were in blocks of fifty, half one way and the other half rotated 180° to compensate for the thicker stapled edge. The blocks were then supposed to be stacked alternately at 0° and 90°.
I began stacking the blocks but after I had stacked about eight, the tower was leaning towards me. If I had added any more blocks it would have toppled over. I could not see why this was happening so to solve the problem I restacked the blocks at 0°, 90°, 180° and 270° even though I knew this not as it should be. I realised my vitamin D was low so I made a mental note to take a tablet as soon as I got home. Once home, I was oblivious to what had happened. I went to make a cup of coffee and this time I actually put the coffee powder in the kettle. I took another tablet right away.
The next day I saw straight away that I had stacked blocks of just twenty-five booklets which were therefore wedge shaped. The far left corner of the stack became taller then near right causing it to lean. The fog had cleared that day and I had no more problems.
At this time I was taking 1000 IU every twelve hours which until now had been sufficient to keep me functioning normally. However I been to experience familiar symptoms again.
- One day I could not find my gloves. I eventually found them in a kitchen cupboard with no recollection of putting them there.
- I went to get my keys but there was an empty space where they should have been. I looked in other places and eventually returned to see them right where I had first looked.
- I began to get so tired that I had to have a nap a few hours after noon. I started waking up to the residual light shows from my dreams.
- I yelled “I hate you!” at the woman leading a meeting that got tense.
- I was crossing the road one day at the town hall. I looked up to check for oncoming traffic and saw that the road was clear for 230m. The traffic lights on Yarmouth Way had just turned green and cars were emerging on to South Quay. I remember registering the scene vividly like a freeze frame in my head. I had what seemed like a brief ‘senior moment’ then headed across the road. I had crossed two lanes when I heard the roar of engines and stopped at the white lines between the lanes while one car passed behind me and another in front. I could not understand how they had managed to cover the distance in such a short time and why they had not slowed down as they approached me. In June 2019 I was walking over Haven Bridge and thinking back to those events. I remembered how I used to black out when I looked up and to the right while washing up. I realised that I had had an non-epileptic seizure so I had been unaware that a longer time interval had passed. The cars had not slowed down because the drivers would have seen me looking their way and assumed I was just being bloody minded.
- The carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) returned full blown this time. My left shoulder and upper arm became painful whenever I was sitting down. Several months later I was thinking back to the instances of CTS spasms and finally realised that they were caused by low vitamin D.
- Black flashes in my peripheral vision.⮵ I did not perceive them as cat's tails as before⮵. One time I thought it was the free end of my belt and another time it seemed like a huge mosquito.
Despite all of these symptoms, it never occurred to me to increase the dose. In November I was in a meeting. I considered saying something but it would have revealed something private about someone else so I decided against it. Then I sat aghast as I listened to myself blurting out what I did not want to say. I felt drunk straight away but fortunately the meeting ended shortly afterwards. I left the building and headed to the bus station walking quickly and feeling as though I had had a few too many. I remember the bus leaving the stand, when it turned onto the sliproad to the southern bypass and when it turned off towards Acle. When the bus was passing the Sainsbury supermarket, about 200m from the bus terminus, I came round and realised that I had been blacked-out the entire journey. I took a tablet as soon as I got home and increased my dose to 1000 IU every eight hours from then on.
The next day, a Friday, I went to the supermarket to buy food for the next week. They had some coffee and walnut cakes at 30% discount. I was brought up on homemade cooking so I rarely buy cakes but the offer was too good to resist. When I got home I cut myself a slice. The flavour was so incredibly intense I looked at the ingredients to see if the cake contained artificial flavouring but it was natural. During the week I cooked some left over carrots and potatoes for a late night snack. Both vegetables had an unusually strong flavour. The next Friday I bought another coffee cake and it had the same intense flavour. The late night snack during the following week was parsnips and potatoes. The parsnips had an unpleasant taste of creosote. A couple of weeks later I bought another coffee cake but this time it had the weak flavour I expected from a shop-bought cake, containing just enough coffee so as not to violate the Trade Descriptions Act.
When I was a boy, two of my favourite foods were gammon cooked in split pea soup and bananas and custard. The custard was Bird's made with half whole milk and half reconstituted evaporated milk. I used to cook these for myself but at some point they stopped tasting the way they had. I assumed my taste buds getting less sensitive with age and stopped eating those foods because it was depressing. Some months later I was feeling a bit nostalgic and made myself bananas and custard for desert. I was surprised to find that the creamy deliciousness was back. Some months after that I bought some bacon because it was on special offer. The meal that I cooked with it had all the flavour I remembered.
The overreaction to certain flavours was akin to that when I took my first vitamin D tablet and when I overcame my lack of motivation. For this reason my hypothesis is that the loss of taste was because of reduced functioning within my brain rather than the taste buds. The flavours that were enhanced were those that had an elevated meaning from childhood. My father used to grow vegetables, going out to dig up carrots and potatoes fresh for dinner. Parsnips had a special significance because we had to wait for the first frost before harvesting them. Brewing coffee in a stove-top percolator was a hallowed Sunday morning ritual. The sight and sound of the coffee pulsing into the glass top and the coffee smell filling the kitchen are treasured memories.
I live in England in a house with single glazed windows. From November to February it is usually necessary to go round the house and wipe condensation from the windows to prevent cumulative damage to the frames. I also make myself some coffee in the morning. Over the weeks I noticed that I had no problems if I made the coffee after doing the windows. If I made the coffee first I experienced uncertainty during the various stages of the process. I was taking 1000 IU of vitamin D every eight hours. I realised that the tablet I was taking before I went to bed was no longer lasting through the night. I was not too concerned though as the symptoms were mild and disappeared when the morning tablet kicked in.
One morning I made a pot of coffee as usual and went up to the study to use my computer while it was brewing. When the percolation had finished I went downstairs to pour a mugful. I had just finished making myself a mug of instant coffee when I saw the percolator still plugged in and realised my mistake. Since this event I have been taking two tablets before going to bed then one twelve and eighteen hours later.
A few weeks later I was looking at the almost disappeared scabs on the back of my hand where I had dug out the white patches. I remembered that I used to get these before I began treating myself with vitamin D. I also had one appear during the Oct/Nov 2017 episode. My mother also had several of these patches removed from her face with dry ice when she was starting to exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. I searched online and discovered the condition is called idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis. The word ‘idiopathic’ means ‘of unknown cause.’ The fact that these patches stopped appearing each time I increased the vitamin D dose strongly suggests that low vitamin D is their cause.
I used to experience tinnitus regularly in the year before I started taking vitamin D and it also occurred during the Oct/Nov 2017 underdose episode. Although tinnitus may have other causes it seems that low vitamin D can lead to it too.
The first time that I left the house after I overcame my depression back in Nov 2014 I noticed that exhaust fumes had an unusually strong sulphurous smell. After I increased by dosage in Nov 2017 I again noticed this smell coming from traffic. After increasing my dosage again in 2019 I went for a walk along Pasteur Road and Gapton Hall Road. These roads have a high volume of traffic. As I approached the A47, I started to notice a strong smell of burning tyres. I looked around to see if there was a fire somewhere. There was a pall of smoke but it was too far away to be producing the intense smell that I was experiencing. I went for the same walk the next day and noticed the same smell. After that things returned to normal. I realised that this oversensitivity to exhaust fumes was being produced by the sudden elevation of vitamin D.
The smell of exhaust fumes has special significance from childhood. The flat that we lived in when I was a child was just two rows of houses away from the open countryside in Gorleston, Norfolk. The air was thus very clean. When I was around seven or eight years old (1969/70) we went on a shopping trip to Norwich. I remember the smell of traffic fumes, particularly the diesel fumes from the numerous buses. I remember blowing my nose the next day and seeing the blackened mucus on the handkerchief. Because of this I have never had any desire to live in a city.
Around the start of May, as the days were beginning to get longer, I was concerned that 4000 IU of vitamin D per day might be excessive so I cut back to 3000 IU per day. Around the middle of June I began to need afternoon naps. I had been going to bed around midnight and getting up about six in the morning so I assumed that I had not been getting enough sleep. Soon after I noticed prominent impressions of the bedsheets on my arms when I got up. Despite all my experience I excused it as me getting old. Then one day I had two one second bursts of tinnitus a few hours apart. I then realised that I was underdosing again so I went back to 4000 IU per day. The symptoms went away and for several nights I found myself not going the bed until two o'clock in the morning and still getting up at six o'clock with no signs of tiredness while awake.
© Copyright 2020 Andrew Jarvis.