Ooooh, Vitamin D

by lmaresz, http://pixabay.com/en/cloud-sky-yellow-radius-sunshine-143152/ CC0
by lmaresz, http://pixabay.com/en/cloud-sky-yellow-radius-sunshine-143152/ CC0

Now I don’t know if this song is a real thing, or just something my mother used to sing to me as a child in the 1980s. But it would go ‘ooooh, Vitamin D, Vitamin D’. I assume it was about how good Vitamin D was for you, maybe there was a line about going out into the sun? But it might well have been a song about sliced bread or falling in love that my mother changed the words to one day and they stayed changed. This happens a lot in my family. 

Anyway, this is a post about mens sana in corpore sano. That is, this is a blog about academic writing, which happens in the mind; but our minds function in our brains, which are organs, that are located in our bodies.

So, I’ve been sick for ever, it seems. (I wrote about it back in September, and then again in May).  I went to the doctor, and then another doctor, and then a specialist and then another specialist, and found out that I was in hospital because of food intolerances (yeah, pretty crazy intense intolerances), and I had cancer risk polyps but we could sort that out, and that I had nearly no Vitamin D at all. So I bounced all over town trying to find a compounding pharmacy so they could make up my super-high dose Vitamin D capsules, which I’ve been taking for 3 weeks; and I went to a dietician and I can now eat food without feeling like I’m being attacked by knife-weilding gnomes and their nausea waves.

So I can eat, and I haven’t got sick yet, even though it’s the beginning of semester, it’s freezing cold and wet and I’ve just started a new job.always get sick at the beginning of semester–every year since I started teaching, which is now 7 years ago.

Standing DeskNow I don’t want to suggest that everything in your life could be cured by a little pill, but no-one in the developed world is getting enough Vitamin D in the winter, so maybe think about getting your levels checked out?

Maybe you’ll find instead, as one of the candidates I was working with did, that you have insanely low iron levels, which is why you can’t stay awake to write. Maybe you’ll find that you are actually coeliac and cutting bread out of your diet will help you get out to do your research, instead of having to fight the lethargy.   (I’m glad to report, bread is safe for me to eat. So much toast is being consumed right now.) Maybe you’ll find that a standing desk means you can focus on your chapter and not be distracted by your back pain.  (That’s me again, by the way.)

There are people out there who have chronic pain, incurable diseases, terminal illnesses. They have to find ways to live and work with or around that. But if what’s wrong with you can be fixed by popping a pill, for goodness sake, take the tablet. 

Looking after your physical health, I have been reminded over and over again in the last year, directly impacts your productivity, intellectual capacity and therefore your research. Practice some self care, and be as well as you can, so you can write as well as you can. 

 

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7 Comments

  1. Hi Katherine, it is funny you should write this as I am home with a bout of bronchitis after taking time out to watch a friend’s son play footy. So, based on that experience going outside is bad for me 😉. The weirder thing is that I have an acquired brain injury and have to take brain breaks from my work, but I have never been this unproductive; even when taking breaks. So, I might just stay inside forever 😝. Just kidding.

    1. This is a great blog post. Everyone else, go read it!
      I agree that with self-care people’s productivity & motivation is so much better–so it is possible to write lots, finish on time, & look back on your research as a privilege.
      It’s also a good reminder that I was awesome at self-care during the PhD, and need to relearn those skills!

  2. Hi. I developed not one but two serious neurological diseases, the latter being MS, which were significantly related to zero vitamin D levels aided by those long neurotic days tied to the computer with the PhD thesis. So I cannot agree with you enough, and would tell every HDR candidate, researcher, (office worker…) to be mindful of the self-care and body awareness you suggest.

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