Hyper-what? Exactly. Back in October when I was Rxed with PHPT, it also came out that is has caused me to have Hypercalcemia.
Hypercalecemia is a condition in which the calcium levels in my blood are above normal. Too much calcium can weaken bones, cause kidney stones and interfere with how my heart and brain work.
The most common causes are an overactive thyroid (me having PHPT) with a small, noncancerous tumor on one of my four parathyroid glands. When I was tested, they discovered mine is .25″ or about the size of a small pea.
Normally there isn’t enough calcium in my blood, so my parathyroid gland secretes a hormone that triggers my bones to leach calcium into my bloodstream, my digestive track to absorb more calcium than normal and my kidneys to excrete less calcium and activate more Vitamin D.
If my bones continue to leach the calcium, I can develop osteoporosis, develop bone fractures more easily, devlope spinal column curvature and, wait for it… loss of height.
Hypercalcemia also effects the electrical impulses that regulate my heartbeat, causing it to beat irregularly. Other fun effects are tingling in fingertips, toes and lips, muscle cramps, muscle spasms, fatigue, brittle nails and depression and anxiety.
All fun, right? Well this is where things are interesting for me… about 8 years ago, my irregular heartbeat was becoming more and more frequent so I ended up being tested at the Beaumont Women’s Heart Center. If anyone is near there, I highly recommend the comprehensive test they do. I think every woman in her 40s should have it done. If you’re not local, find a women’s heart center and get tested. And be sure it’s a WOMENS heart center, not mens. They two operate VERY differently.
The result of the testing found two things… first, when my blood work came back, I had zero Vitamin D in my system. Not only was it flagged as low, they could not detect ANY. Second, they diagnosed me with PVC… Premature Ventricular Contraction.
They put me on heavy Vitamin D and Calcium regiment , above and beyond what I should have normally and suggested more milk in my diet. At the time I was drinking Whole Milk. Whenever I would have an episode where my heart was acting up, I’d pop additional Vitamin D and Calcium and wash them down with the milk. I was drinking about 3 gallons of milk each week.
Last fall, I decided to have a physical after my sister went and was diagnosed with Celiac Disease (the fourth in my family to be diagnosed… now I have 3 sisters and a niece with it). During the exam, the wonderful and knowledgable PA took ahold of my hand and asked, “Have your nails always been brittle?” to which I responded, “Yes.” They have as long as I can remember.
Then she asked, “Has anyone ever tested your thyroid?” No. Never.
Fast forward to the blood tests, radioactive imaging, and bone density scans. The call came in with the PHPT diagnosis along with a cease and desist of all calcium and any supplements (not even a daily multivitamin) that have calcium in them. That’s when my research began and I found the best diet for me is paleo while avoiding soy and corn as much as possible too.
So that is how we are eating now and will be a focus of what I will be writing about! On that note, I am finally done with Job #2! I now work Job #3 4 days each week with Wednesday’s off (woot!) and will be blogging then. I’ll be working Job #1, well the office-part anyway, on Wednesday’s as well.
As I write this, I can’t help but think back to moments when my heart would act up and I would chug the milk and take the supplements… was I poisoning myself when I did that? I don’t linger on that, but at times I am curious. But then I smile and think about how grateful I am that I have a proper diagnosis!
A coworker asked me one day, when she examined my quinoa salad that I was having for lunch, if I had noticed any changes with my new way of eating. I paused and realized that since I’ve been eating paleo, I haven’t had any irregular heartbeats. When I do lose willpower and have wheat and dairy, within hours it’s back beating irregularly. Thankfully now I know it will pass and it’s a strong reminder of how important it is for me to stick to my diet not matter what.
It’s funny in that for the first time in I don’t know how long, I am beginning to feel balance. Let’s hope it stays that way!