A few weeks ago, I went in for my annual gynecological exam. It was my first visit to this particular practice, and the licensed nurse practitioner handled the exam.
We got to talking about overall health in general, and I jokingly mentioned that I can be forgetful sometimes, not always “in the mood” and a few other things that I find typical to being over the age of 40.
After ordering some routine well-woman blood work to check things like cholestrol and thyroid levels, she mentioned that there’s another more advanced test I could take that could help identify whether other physiological stuff was out of balance in my system.
It sounded pretty good. I’m at midlife, after all, and if my wrinkles and sagging skin are any indicator of what’s going on INSIDE my body, it was worth a check.
On the 20th day of my cycle, I had to collect a bunch of spit samples at various times of the day and send in some pee, too. The samples got shipped off ultrafast to some lab in Wisconsin (apparently, the epicenter for cheese, the Packers, and this sort of testing).
Two weeks later, I got a call back from the LNP. I learned that this test was checking my neurotransmitter levels – things like seratonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and other stuff I only know about from watching Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
They can affect things like sleep quality, mental focus, feelings of contentment, yada yada.
It was very IMPORTANT for me to know that many of my neurotransmitter levels were seriously off.
All the ones that related to the “problems” I was joking about had levels way lower than normal.
The nurse said, “I’ll bet you’ve not been sleeping well. Feeling overstressed. Not happy, maybe even a little depressed. Like you’re walking around in a brain fog all the time.”
Note: this conversation occurred while I was still happily employed at my dream job.
“Um, actually, I’m the happiest, most balanced, and the best rested I’ve been in years right now.”
Sure, I forget stuff sometimes, and occasionally I don’t sleep great, but overall, the last 3 or 4 months had been pretty blissful for a hard-core perfectionist Type A control freak worrywart who’s careening toward the age of 50 faster than the kids from Breaking Amish could head to the nearest strip club.
The nurse said, “Well, that’s great. But the lab results show that you’re basically running on an empty fuel tank. If you’re feeling that good right now, JUST THINK about how great you could feel if we get these neurotransmitters back to normal levels!”
Well hell YEAH!, I thought. You mean I could feel not just great, but SUPER MEGA EPICALLY AWESOME? I haven’t felt that way since I had five grain alcohol margaritas in my early 20s.
“Okay, so what do I need to do?”
The nurse replied, “I have an array of natural supplements that are specifically recommended by the lab…”
and then her voice turned into the teacher from Charlie Brown. Wah, wah, wah.
This was a Thing That Makes You Go Hmm.
Let me say right now that I’m not opposed to supplements. And I’m all for natural shizz. But it kinda sounded like a bait and switch.
Still, the idea that I could feel SUPER MEGA EPICALLY AWESOME was as tempting as that dream I had last night with Jason Mraz in it.
Refocusing back on the nurse’s drone, I learned that I could take these two supplements for the low cost – ahem - of about $70 a month and within weeks I’d be that SUPER MEGA EPICALLY AWESOME version of Gigi I had forgotten ever existed.
I started fantasizing about all the projects I’d complete! The bliss I’d spread throughout the land! The nonstop sex drive my husband would love me to have!
I picked up the supplements a few days later.
The first night, I fell asleep and had a series of freaky dreams that may or may not have involved cacti, my Constitutional Law textbooks from law school, and several of the Real Housewives of New Jersey.
I woke up at 3 a.m. and never went back to sleep.
Same story the night afterward, only I woke up at midnight and watched Zumba infomercials and read an incredibly boring biography of Julia Child until it was time to take my morning shower.
And again the next night, and the night after that.
These supplements were life-altering alright – I hadn’t felt this ragged at the core, this zombie-like, this hungover-without-having-drank since Little CEO was a newborn.
I pondered if maybe it was because I got laid off the week I started the supplements. Surely, it was a stressor I hadn’t anticipated.
So, as a little test. I stopped taking the supplements.
Sleep. Glorious sleep, without interruption, without Theresa Guidice dreams.
I’ve decided that SUPER MEGA EPICALLY AWESOME Gigi can’t be bought with supplements or $255 (gulp) lab tests. She’s going to have to come out on her own.
Or with a little help from some grain alcohol margaritas.
Have you ever taken supplements – and what was your experience?