The Blood Results 

I have only recently returned to running having spent most of the summer struggling with injury and illness. The latter was caused by a mystery virus which manifested itself in a persistent dry cough, ear ache and severe fatigue. I could barely run a bath, let alone a half marathon, as a result of it and found the entire experience frustrating and demoralising. Thankfully it has finally resolved itself allowing me to train again and I’m gradually building up my distance as I prepare for the Belfast Half Marathon in two weeks time.

During one of my (many) visits to the doctor’s surgery blood samples were taken to determine if there were any underlying causes for my general malaise. I thought nothing of it and even forgot to contact the surgery when the results came back. It was only when a slightly concerned Fionnuala called me at work to say that the surgery wanted to contact me about the results that I took the plunge and picked up the phone.


It transpired that I had a folic acid deficiency and now have to take a supplement for four months in order to redress the imbalance which explained the tiredness I had been experiencing. I was slightly bemused by this as my only knowledge of folic acid was that it was taken by pregnant women or those trying to get pregnant in order to reduce the odds of their baby being born with certain disabilities.

Now the last time checked I was neither pregnant nor contemplating getting pregnant. The thoughts of morning sickness, swollen ankles and constant back pain did not appeal to me. And as for the ‘joy’ of childbirth itself. Errrrr….no thanks. Watching Fionnuala go through three pregnancies had scarred me for life. While admittedly she was a little ray of sunshine throughout each one (I am contractually obliged to say this) I think I’ll just leave the whole issue of baby production to the stronger sex.

Folic acid is a form of folate which is one of the B vitamins our body needs. The recommended dietary intake is 400 micrograms per day. A deficiency in folic acid can result in a type of anaemia where the body has a lower count of large red blood cells. Wikipedia told me all this so blame them if any of that is inaccurate. But as an old boss of mine once said never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

This caused the fatigue that I had been struggling with. Hopefully now that I am popping my supplement every morning this problem will not rear its head again. I already feel much stronger and my energy levels have returned to their previous levels. Fionnuala may argue that they were never were very high to start with when it came to domestic chores but let’s not go there shall we.

Looking back on my summer of sickness it amazed me that I had been stumbling around oblivious to what was causing me to feel so rough. There was a deficiency inside me which was invisible to both myself and the outside world. Thankfully as it was a physical ailment the wonders of medical science were able to identify and rectify the problem. I was healed and no long term damage resulted. 

How many of us are walking about today, however, oblivious to a spiritual deficiency inside of us? When I say oblivious that is not strictly true. We have an inkling that something is not quite right. We are uneasy, unsettled, disenfranchised. There is something missing but we know not what. The cause is invisible to us but the symptoms are plain for all to see. We are frustrated, angry, filled with negativity and disillusionment. These emotions can only lead to destructive behaviour.

The word ‘deficiency’ has its etymological roots in the Latin word ‘deficere’ meaning to revolt, desert or fail. This makes sense physically. When my folic acid levels fell (they had deserted or failed me) I felt ill. A supplement was prescribed to replace the scurrilous defectors. Likewise when we are spiritually bereft we often seek to ‘fill the gap’ with anything that can ensure a quick fix – food, alcohol, drugs, sex, money, power, starvation, cutting; whatever it takes to numb the pain even if only for a few hours.

We all have our quick fixes. The one common feature that all the spiritually redundant share however is that none of them work for any length of time. We end up in a darker place than where we started. For some that path leads to madness and death. I was walking that path. I was doing a fantastic job at developing an alcohol dependency while simultaneously succumbing to OCD, social media addiction and all the dangers associated with that. I was sinking fast. 

I had been brought up to believe in God. I knew all my Bible stories and had a wary respect for him. But he was always on the fringes of my life and if I’m honest looked a bit grumpy for my liking. Jesus seemed like a cool guy but, again, my relationship with him was tenuous to say the least. It was only when I hit rock bottom and got dragged to church by a friend that I began to open my eyes and my mind. I accepted my many failings and realised I was powerless to get out of the mess I had gotten myself into. I know it sounds a cliche but I decided to hand it over to God. I had tried everything else and failed. What was there to lose?

The weird thing was that this time it worked. It made sense. The more I studied the Bible the more I got it. God was not grumpy, he was love. Christianity was not dull and conforming. It was exciting, edgy and revolutionary. I stopped drinking. Got to grips with the OCD demon. And after many doomed attempts kicked Twitter & Instagram. I’m far from perfect (just ask Fionnuala) but I feel I’ve got my life and family back. I enjoy my job and I love to run and write.

You don’t have to feel deficient. Just like when you are physically ill you visit a doctor when you’re spiritually deficient you visit Jesus. He’s open 24/7, 365. You don’t even need an appointment. He will never turn you away. For He is sufficient when you are deficient. He will heal you. What have you to lose?

Luke 5:31 – ‘Jesus answered them, ‘It not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.’

Hands up who knew you could develop a folic acid deficiency?

Are there any areas of your life where you feel spiritually deficient?

Or have you story of how your faith brought healing and restoration?

24 thoughts on “The Blood Results 

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  1. I found out about four months ago I need to take 4000mg of Vitamin D3 because my bones hate me. Glad you managed to kick Twitter and Instagram. I made a return to Facebook because it was too hard managing my depression without my support network. I just stay away from the news because, well, the news is itself inherently depressing. Great post as always Stephen. Hope you have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your connection between physical illness and spiritual deficiency. I know I have spiritual deficiencies, but I am working on figuring out what they are (though I have an idea). It’s been hard for me to stop perusing social media so frequently, but it definitely only feeds my depression. Maybe I should really try to. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve found WordPress is my safe ‘social media’ place. I can express myself and be real. Twitter & IG were fake worlds. They fed my demons and preyed on my weaknesses. The people here are supportive and there is a big Christian community. I’m really enjoying being on here. 😊

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Agreed! And I was pleasantly surprised to find such a Christian community. I think a lot of Christians blog, to share experiences (as we are instructed to do). Instagram is all about “the perfect picture” (which I totally don’t mind for Belle 😂), and Twitter is only staccato response to the world. Social media just feeds into our demons because checking becomes an addictive behavior. I’ve noticed it’s almost uncontrollable for me. I have to check, to see…I scroll without intent. But I’ve started using it only for important messages–sharing my blog, sharing my writing, sharing information on things I care about. That seems to help somehow.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I believe we just have to make sure what we do on social media is Jesus-centred as opposed to self-centred. I try to read my Bible before I pick up my phone. I’m the worst in the world when it comes to always being on the phone. But I’m trying to improve and spend more time in the ‘real’ world.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I completely agree. I get so caught up sometimes. I’m trying to pray first thing when I wake up instead of getting on my phone. Now more than ever I want to try to make everything I do a reflection of what He has asked of me. 🙏🏼

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  3. What a wonderful post. I simply loved the last paragraph . A golden advice —
    when you are physically ill you visit a doctor when you’re spiritually deficient you visit Jesus. He’s open 24/7, 365. You don’t even need an appointment. 👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad you are doing great, Stephen. Inspiring post as always. God’s grace is definitely sufficient unto us, even in our deficiency, because when we are weak, His strength is manifested mightily. Especially, when we trust in Him.

    Blessings to you and your family!👍👍

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  5. I certainly understand having to deal with fatigue issues. I also have to deal with fatigue and still not sure exactly what is behind it because the doctor has been trying different things. My case is harder because I have other medical issues as well that can contribute to fatigue. But, all in all, I keep my faith and trust in God for strength. It’s not always easy but I keep pressing forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I know this might seem like an outside perspective. I don’t believe I suffer from any sort of deficiency, but my health is affected by chronically transformed migraines. I’ve been in and out of hospitals, specialist’s offices, tested for nearly 2 decades for everything from allergies to cancer. Often, these experiences just lead to more questions.

    That said, it wasn’t until recently that I read a comment about how humankind is so diverse, so unique internally (what with gut bacteria, personal immune systems, allergies, and so forth) we are microbial universes that are immensely different, that modern medicine is able to only truly study and understand generic cases en masse. That, individually, medicine and doctors ought to approach every single person as their own case. That, unless the patient shows generic and well-documented symptoms, it’s very difficult to treat a person who is afflicted differently.

    I know it seems like a ramble, but after all of those years of reading and studying and trying to break down my own personal health issues, it really made me feel…normal. That it is my own unique “internal cosmos” that causes me my issues, and that was strangely comforting. Like, I am not some hopeless case. It’s just that there isn’t enough medical study and knowledge to know what is wrong, and that’s kind of interesting. I don’t know…maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s the kind of peaceful answer I needed after years and years of wondering if cancer would come up one day, suddenly. Whatever it is, that really helped me put things into perspective, and I definitely think that that is worth sharing to anyone else encountering health issues, solved or unresolved alike.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Amen 🙂 Glad to read you are starting to feel better. I totally relate to the part where you mentioned being on the fringes with God. It was very much that way for me not long ago. In the last year I have found my way back to him and it’s amazing what happens when you hand things over to God. He has certainly been there for me. He is my folic acid lol.
    Great post and best wishes to you with your marathon! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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