Antonia Malchik
5 min readSep 29, 2022


My doctor dismisses my B12 spirals. But I can’t.

Why do I have to fight my doctor for a benign treatment with no side effects?

Photo by whoislimos on Unsplash

Last week I went into my doctor’s office to request the one medical treatment that has no side effects and costs very little, but that they never fail to give me hassle about: a vitamin B12 shot.

I’ve gone to nurses for these shots for years, ever since I had a severely low B12 diagnosis some years ago. I wrote about that experience, and the research behind B12 deficiency, at the time, but what I didn’t foresee was the ensuing years of persuasion and stubborness that would be required every time that particular form of exhaustion spread through my bones and dragged my muscles and energy downward.

“I thought of the constant tiredness,” I wrote at the time, “which I’d described to her as feeling like I was dehydrated, like I needed to drink sleep instead of water. I told her how my hands had been going numb, and how I found it hard to keep warm. About my blurred thinking and sluggish speech. It wasn’t just sleep deprivation or depression?

‘B12 deficiency can cause all of those symptoms,’ she said. ‘I’m going to put you on weekly shots for a month. Let’s see if that helps.’” It helped, and then some.

A few months after that diagnosis I happened across a book on B12 deficiency written by an ER nurse, whom I interviewed for that piece.

Her mission was to get other medical professionals to take B12 more seriously — at least to test for it as a regular practice.

“‘There’s a knowledge deficit,’ she said. ‘In the 60s and 70s they used to give the shots regularly. Then some older doctors started diluting B12 with more saline but charge insurance companies the full cost, and it got a bad name.’ Pacholok fought her own hospital…



Antonia Malchik

Antonia Malchik is the author of A Walking Life: Reclaiming Our Health and Our Freedom One Step at a Time; walking, tech, community, and embodiment.