There would occasionally be times when I suddenly got a burst of enthusiasm and would get on with some job that had been neglected for a long time. In 2010 I began to wonder what the cause was. It was always happened at weekends. Was it simply a reaction to a stressful week at work? After one particularly stressful week I was looking forward to a good weekend but ended up frittering away my time as usual so that theory was disproved.
In order to keep my weight under control I have developed a regimen of eating just fruit and muesli in the evening on Monday to Thursday. Friday is my binge day when I reward my brain by eating whatever I like. Saturday and Sunday I eat normally. It was autumn 2010 when I had had a delicious meal of baked salmon (240g) on a bed of rice with baked sweet potato and green beans. The following day found me out in the garden clearing away overgrown cotoneaster. I wondered if it was something I had eaten. The following week I swapped the salmon for beefburgers and spent another depressed weekend. I had salmon the next week, two weeks without, and then salmon again for the fourth week. Each time I had salmon on the Friday I had relief from the depression at the weekend so there seemed to be a correlation. I looked up the Wikipedia entry for salmon and discovered that the main difference between salmon and beef is that the salmon contained vitamin D and omega—3 oils. I decided to try vitamin D first.
The next Friday I did not eat salmon. I went to Boot's Pharmacy at about ten o'clock on Saturday morning and bought a tub of 17·5µg (700 IU) tablets. I took one as soon as I left the shop and then walked to the supermarket. I left the supermarket about 20—25 minutes after taking the tablet. As I was walking across the car park I suddenly got a feeling of elation and found myself walking home with a smile on my face. With hindsight, I believe this was like pins and needles in my vitamin D starved brain. When making a hot drink I had got used to having to think through each step, usually walking right into my pantry and then having to check whether it was coffee or tea I needed. When I got home that day and started making a pot of coffee, I reached through the pantry door and grabbed the coffee without looking. I had a huge smile on my face as I realised the dementia symptoms had gone. Over the next few hours I felt more confident than usual and I was not making the usual mistakes when performing trivial tasks. Around five o'clock the confidence was diminishing and I started to make small mistakes while making my evening meal. The specified dose was one a day but I ignored the ‘do not exceed the recommended daily dosage’ warning and took another tablet. I was soon back to normal. Thus I soon established that I needed to take one tablet every eight hours, i.e. 52·5µg (2100 IU) a day, in order to keep the dementia symptoms at bay.
Over the next few days it became clear that all the dementia symptoms had disappeared. I mental ability had improved significantly. I was able to think much better when writing software and began finding stupid mistakes that I had made with diminished mental capacity, like code that processed some data and did nothing with the results and code that reproduced the functionality of a standard library function.
One day early on I found myself struggling to write some code. My initial fear was that the vitamin D was not the cure that I thought it was. Then I realised that I had not taken a tablet that morning. I went home at midday and was back to normal for the afternoon. This happened several times during the first few months until I finally got into the habit of taking a tablet in the morning.
I had always looked much younger than my real age but when I reached my mid forties, about 2007, I began to age rapidly. In the space of a few years:
- My hair became about 80% grey and I had to clear a clump of hair from the sink each time I washed my hair.
- I developed distinct crow's feet
- My brow became heavily furrowed.
- My jowl's began to sag.
- The skin on the backs of my hands became crepey.
- I would wake up in the morning with lines from the sheets on my face and arms.
- My knees gradually deteriorated. I had to avoid stressing them otherwise I would feel the cartilage shift and have difficulty walking for several minutes.
My hair stopped falling out as soon as I started taking the vitamin D. After a few months I began to notice that I had ‘dark roots’ in my hair and my sideburns, which had been quite grey, were much darker. I searched for information about hair going dark on the internet. What I found said that hair does not turn dark. It is the grey hair falling out and leaving darker hair behind. I can state that this is not the case. At one point the hairs in my sideburns were dark for half their length at the base and grey at the tip. Some hairs remained completely grey. While it is not possible for a completely dead pigment cell to come back to life, it does seem as though failing pigment cells can recover. The idea of photographing the evidence occurred to me several times but I was still suffering from depression so the thoughts would simply fade away unheeded. The remaining signs of aging also vanished and I essentially became rejuvenated though I probably look my true age now. Over the course of a few months my knees slowly improved until I no longer had any trouble from them.
I partially severed my Achilles tendon when I was twelve years old. As a result I had an inverted ‘T’ scar on my heel. The horizontal part formed a 4-5mm ridge that was inconveniently sited just above the top of a shoe. A few months after starting taking the vitamin D the scar began to enlarge. When it about doubled in size and after having a bath that had softened the tissue, I decided to cut it off. I pared it away gradually with a craft knife until I nicked a blood vessel. By then it was almost flush with the rest of my skin. After a few weeks it had swollen up again so I repeated the procedure and twice more after that. The scar is now difficult to see unless you know it is there. I have a scar on my thigh and small one on the back of my hand which remained unaffected.
Boot's stopped selling pure vitamin D and I had to switch to 15µg (600 IU) tablets from Tesco. The total dose had reduced to 1800 IU a day but the dementia symptoms remained under control. In early 2014 Tesco switched to 12·5µg (500 IU) tablets so the daily dose reduced to 37·5µg (1500 IU). I was a bit worried about the low dose but everything seemed okay so I was reassured. It did not occur to me that this dose is only marginally above two 17·5µg (700 IU) tablets and I already new that I needed three of them. After a couple of months my mental ability had begun to deteriorate. The idea that I should increase my dose flitted through my head occasionally but I never acted on it.
In June I had to wallpaper my hall and stairs. I expected the job to take no more than a week but unfortunately I was making fundamental mistakes. The paper had a staggered pattern match. I got the fifth strip wrong by cutting it the same as the previous strip. A couple of sheets were ruined by trimming them incorrectly. I was having to double check every measurement, repeatedly going from my work room to offer a strip up to the wall to make sure everything was marked out correctly before cutting. Several times the thought of increasing my dose came into my head but were ignored. After about eighteen days I started the final run down the long side of the hall. I had been cutting 105cm strips but the skirting board drops behind the front door. I measured the required length as 115cm. I went to measure out the next strip for cutting but by the time I pulled a length of paper from the roll I was unsure how long it should be. I measured the wall again, marked out the wallpaper, went back to the front door to check the measurement again and finally cut the strip. I went back offer up the paper to the wall before I pasted it and found out to my dismay that it was too short. Despite all my checks I had cut it to 105cm. I was finally despairing enough that I took another tablet and increased to dose to four 12·5µg (500 IU) tablets a day, i.e. 50µg (2000 IU) a day. My mental ability was immediately back to normal. The rest of the wallpapering was completed with no problem. The one week job ultimately took three weeks.
On the 13th August 2014 I got up at six o'clock, two hours earlier than usual. I went to work at half past eight. At about three o'clock in the afternoon I made myself a cup of coffee. Half an hour later I was feeling very thirsty so I decided to make a cup of coffee. I looked for the mug and saw the now lukewarm coffee that I had made half an hour before. I realised then that because of the change of routine I had not taken a tablet that morning and that I was beginning to lose my faculties. I got home at about six o'clock in the evening. While I was making a pot of tea I paused. Something was wrong but I could not figure out what it was. It was several seconds before I realised that I was about to put a scoop of coffee in the tea pot. This was a familiar symptom. I made a mental note to take a tablet as soon as I had eaten my evening meal but it was quickly forgotten.
At eight o'clock I wanted to record a DVD on my computer. I got a DVD out of the pack. The next thing I remember is being brought back to awareness by the sound of the DVD platter when I pressed the eject button. I looked for the DVD that I should have been on the desktop in front of me. Instead I saw the white foam retaining ring from the DVD pack. I remembered looking aghast as I slid the foam ring onto the desk instead of a DVD. My vision went high contrast and the last thing I remember is the white of the foam bright against a black background before my vision blacked out completely. Somehow I went on to eject the DVD that was in the DVD player so presumably part of my brain could still ‘see’.
I took a tablet straight away. I usually take a tablet before I go to bed at around midnight so at least twenty hours had passed since the last tablet. The severity of the event was a shock. By that time I had been taking vitamin D for four years.
© Copyright 2020 Andrew Jarvis.