How Vitamin D Deficiency Can Affect People With Cerebral Palsy

Editor's Note

Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month; as a young woman whose life is impacted by this disability, I feel it is my responsibility to bring attention to not only the issue at hand, but also to the potential underlying challenges it may present in a massively hidden fashion.

I have an extremely mild case of cerebral palsy; doctors describe the severity as a “whiff.” I possess mobility and pain issues that have gradually become more difficult as I’ve aged. Cerebral palsy is widely known to be a non-progressive disability, yet the wear and tear on the body causes your experience to evolve in a number of ways with a vast variety of reactions from the body. I have just one question that poses a counter-argument to this statement.

How do you know if a symptom is solely cerebral palsy related or the presence of something a bit more complicated?

Allow me to share my story.

The past several months saw my mental and physical health declining rapidly. The only logical explanation I could fathom was a more than busy schedule and lack of physical activity. I was always exhausted, and shortness of breath had become my sidekick. I had put on more than a few pounds, so at the suggestion of my physician at the time, I purchased a treadmill in hopes that exercise would help bring me back to functionality.

However, I was hit with another setback as I was also dealing with episodes of recurrent pharyngitis, a bacterial inflammation of the pharynx that caused a painful sore throat and introduced weakness so severe I found it hard to even get out of bed. Three times in the span of two years saw me dealing with such a trial. The second bout brought on body aches so indescribable, even my fingernails throbbed. As a writer, I became frustrated as yet another symptom showed itself and I began to lose functionality of my fingers and hands; frequent episodes of them going numb made it difficult to finish even one piece on my worst days.

My anxiety and depression worsened as my mother and I realized something else was happening; I was certain I was dying of some disease. I had to get answers.

I decided to contact a new physician and after a battery of tests and a full panel of blood was drawn, we discovered I have a severe Vitamin D2 deficiency at a dangerously low level of 10; normal levels are anywhere from 70-100. Symptoms are: anxiety, depression, weight gain, body aches, muscle pain, bone pain, numbness anywhere in the body. Symptoms that are paralleled to cerebral palsy in more ways than one; however, I know the effects it has on me; I’ve experienced it my whole life, and this wasn’t anything like I’d been through before.

I had to write about this because I found that Vitamin D deficiencies are surprisingly common in people with cerebral palsy; we use the vitamin differently and in higher quantities than our able-bodied peers. Health risks of leaving this untreated are illnesses such as: cancer, cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, and more. Thankfully, I am being treated and will be okay within six months to a year. My body has to get to the point where my vitamin D will be stored.

Please, if you experience this, don’t pass it off as progression of cerebral palsy or mental health issues without being tested and ruling every other possibility out. Make sure to keep an eye on your vitamin levels! Find a doctor who will listen and investigate. Who knows how long I’ve had my issues? I am feeling the best I’ve felt in 10 years although I am nowhere near full recovery status; I have my crash days. I can look back and recall experiencing symptoms that came and went for years and I never knew what it was until I became very ill.

As a disability advocate, I have to push this issue. Advocate for your health. Keep fighting until someone will listen. You know your body. The quality of your life depends on the volume of your voice.


Getty image by Designer 491.

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