Monday, July 27, 2009

Hi. I'm Cheri, and I'm Vitamin D Deficient

Here’s a poorly-concealed fact about me: I like to get things right.

Part of it is because I’m the oldest of three kids. A lot was expected of me and I’m here to tell you – I was eager to deliver.

When I say a lot was expected consider this: Mom began potty-training me at … don't even try to guess … three months. This, despite the fact that, according to my baby book, I couldn’t even sit up until a month later. That didn’t hold me back, of course. I was dry through the night before my first birthday. (Sure, other people might be reticent to boast about something they did 45 years ago, but not me. You know why? You betcha. 'Cause I got it right.)

No shock, then, that in school, I was that annoying kid who wanted to be an achiever. Don’t pretend you don’t know who that kid was in your class. Every grade had one, and if you can’t provide that kid’s first and last name and an embarrassing example of their unabashed, smarmy apple-polishing -- well then, I feel sorry for you. Take a gander in the mirror. Looks like you were that kid.

I haven’t been in a classroom for about 25 years now, but my need to succeed never faded. It’s a nasty trait, but it’s there when I’m cooking, when I’m driving, when I’m writing, when I’m training the dog and even when I’m folding laundry. I want to get things right. It even oozes over into areas of my life over which I have virtually no control.

I beam when a nurse reports that my blood pressure is “perfect.” Of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be? My weight? Just fine. My temperature? A cool 98.4. Urinalysis? No problems whatsoever. My vision? Surprisingly (to everyone except me, of course) good.

So when my doctor recently told me it was time for a routine Vitamin D test, I was practically eager to hear the results.

To be sure, even during routine tests, it does occur to me that something could go wrong. What if -- for example -- my vision isn’t perfect:? And I have to get glasses? And because my new prescription glasses are delayed, I mistakenly deliver the kids to the wrong summer camp? And instead of sailing, they're taught to juggle and swing on a flying trapeze? And then, instead of returning home and running into my welcoming arms, they run away with the circus? Without their phone chargers? So they can’t even call me? And since I didn’t give them pre-addressed envelopes, they can’t write to me, either? Then what? Is it now my job to clean the cat litter boxes -- just because my eyesight faltered?

I digress.

Back to Vitamin D. Really. Are you kidding me?

Imagine my surprise when, a week later, my doctor mailed a letter telling me that my blood sugar is fine, my thyroid is 1.76 (apparently okey dokey), my CBC (sorry, I have no idea) is normal, my cholesterol is chockfull of the good, life-extending cholesterol, but I am Vitamin D deficient.

Deficient? Ouch. That hurts.

C’mon! Vitamin D? OK. It is true that I never drink milk except in the form of a venti, non-fat, no-foam chai from Starbucks. But as a baseball mom, I spend ample time in outdoors in the bleachers and get gracious plenty sun. Doesn't that help my body make its own D?

Panicked, I turned to my Mac keyboard and Googled “Vitamin D deficiency.”

Wheeeewwww. OK. I can breathe a little easier now. Looks like there’s no relationship between wine consumption and D deficiency. So plainly, it’s not my fault.

However, as it turns out, researchers are realizing that many, if not most, women are Vitamin D deficient. I also learn that Vitamin D deficiency can be a factor in many serious diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and most obviously, osteoporosis. And listen to these symptoms of deficiency: weak bones, low energy, symptoms of depression, mood swings and sleep irregularities.

I know, right? We all thought that was all just part and parcel of being me!

Treating a D deficiency is easy. I take a prescription supplement once a week for 12 weeks and will be re-tested in a year. Tah. Dah.

I’m also trying to eat more D-rich foods, including fortified orange juice and eggs. Embarrassingly, I still can’t force myself to choke down a glass of milk. However, my "deficiency" (which I now choose to embrace as a “quirk”) made it easy to render a quick “yes,” when Darling Daughter requested (D-rich) tuna sandwiches this weekend.

As I may have mentioned, I do like to get things right.

(To learn more about Vitamin D deficiencies, which may affect as many as 85% of American women, check this website,

Tuna Salad Sandwiches
When I was a kid, we stretched this recipe to make five sandwiches. I'm an adult now, and Chez Wiles, the same recipe makes two hearty sandwiches. On whole wheat bread, of course.
One can tuna, packed in olive oil, drained
1/4 onion, minced
1/2 large kosher pickle, cubed
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous grinding black pepper

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together drained tuna, celery, onion and pickle. Don't mash. Stir in lemon juice and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper and adjust seasoning as needed.
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