Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Entry #23 - Addison's-We are not machines!

Prior to my diagnosis with Addison's, just about ten years ago, I had been told, repeatedly, that I had a sodium deficiency. It was one of the signals of my undiagnosed Addison's disease, but the puzzle pieces had not yet been put together. Initially, I did not really crave a ton of extra salt, but physicians had been telling me to make sure to add extra salt to my food. My doctor appointments would always reveal extremely low blood pressure and blood work would show sodium levels to also be too low. Doctors would conclude that everything could be solved by me adding extra salt to my food.

A Favorite Family Dinner
(Grilled chicken sadly not present for picture.)
I began adding salt to the food on my plate. At home, I'd grab the salt shaker and sprinkle it all over my plate. In restaurants, I'd add a light layer of salt to my food. Salt, salt, salt. But, my blood pressure still remained abnormally low.

No one knew, as I became very ill, that an unknown auto-immune disease was attacking the cortex of my adrenal glands and wreaking havoc on my body.

In the weeks before my official diagnosis, I had gotten to the point of craving V8's. I'm not talking about a "that sure sounds good" craving, I'm talking about a "I need a V8 moment from out of this world and can't focus on anything else around me until I get that V8" intense kind of craving satisfied. My mother watched me down multiple V8's over a long period of time and she was perplexed. My mother actually questioned me, "Do you think you might have some sort of mineral deficiency?" I told her that I'd had all kinds of blood work done at so many of those doctor appointments and all that could be found, as far as a mineral deficiency goes...was the need for more sodium. Perhaps that was the reason I craved V8's so desperately, for the high sodium content. I began to think it made sense.

 Looking back, I realize that those cans of V8 helped to maintain my body functions. With aldosterone levels disappearing, these V8's were helping to somewhat replenish the sodium in my body, but that wasn't going to be enough. Soon, things would progress far beyond a V8's ability to give me a mysterious energy "fix." Eventually, I would not be able to even sit up to drink anything.

After my diagnosis with Addison's disease, I began taking Hydrocortisone and Florinef. This meant I no longer had the severe cravings for V8's. However, in talking with other Addison's patients from around the world, I have found sodium levels to be another area of fluctuations we must confront on a serious level. Of course, it makes sense that people living in the South or in parts of the world with higher temperatures would have more trouble with dehydration and sodium regulation; it comes with the territory and is our "normal" part of life. For friends with Addison's who live in milder climates, they may still have to manage their sodium levels. I have an Addison's friend who is an avid tennis player and he needs salt replacement on a regular basis. Then, there are others who live in cold climates, but they sometimes travel to harsh, hotter climates which can throw their sodium levels out of whack. Regardless, if you have Addison's disease or any adrenal insufficiency, you need to make sure your sodium level is as normal as possible and that you remain hydrated.

Most salt substitutes also contain potassium. To meet my personal health needs, my Dr. regularly checks my blood levels and this includes my potassium levels. Since my life here in Texas is very active, I'm often outdoors. We have acreage in the Piney Woods where I love to hike, and I have a beach just down the road, so I must sometimes replenish my sodium and potassium levels. Klor Con is also used as a salt substitute for some people because it is mixed with salt. My Endocrinologist prescribes this medicine to me. Klor Con is a form of potassium chloride that helps replace lost electrolytes. However, in high levels, this can be toxic. You must show a need for this medication before a Dr. will consider prescribing this supplement. For me, it is a tremendous help. But, it is not a pill that is a part of my daily Addison's maintenance program; I have learned to be wise about when I need to take Klor Con and when I need to leave it in the bottle.

The past ten years has taught me to be finely in-tune with my body. Changing conditions, externally and internally, require diligent attention and action. If you have Primary or Secondary Addison's disease, this is something that is learned over time, like anything else. The thing that is so unique about this disease is how one person's treatment may be different from another person's. You must find what works for your body, especially knowing when you need to increase particular meds or taper. Keeping a journal might help. Sometimes, the process of looking back can be a powerful tool in managing your disease.

If you are struggling, please consider (for at least for a month) recording your activities, your dosages and times (which should be on a regular schedule), the climate (hot days and cold days can impact a person with Addison's - it can cause physiological stress, depending on exposure), your fluid intake, diet and sleep can help increase your chances of having lots of good days by reviewing this health journal. I did this, off and on, for years before I developed a keen sixth sense via lots of homework and experiences. Just keep in mind that your regiment might require additional attention for changing circumstances. That's the part of having Addison's disease that can be most challenging...knowing when to take additional action. However, even with the best plan and the most diligent action, Addison's disease can still throw cheap daggers your direction. We are not machines. If it were that easy, we could plug in codes and commands and we would run perfectly. If we were machines, we would not have developed Addison's disease in the first place. Unfortunately, we are not mechanical, so there will always be unknown variables as obstacles. So, do your best. Part of my personal plan is to also say my prayers; God has seen me through times of health troubles after medical intervention sputtered. Develop a strategy, but don't beat yourself up when things go wrong or when you have bad days. Many people with adrenal insufficiency experience difficult struggles, physically and emotionally, remember that you are not alone.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

ENTRY #22 - Looking Back-Part 3

The below is an independent entry, but is also Part 3 of my "Looking Back" recollections which are record the time immediately before my diagnosis with Addison's disease. Unfortunately, this time of losing my optimal health coincided with the terrorist attacks of 9-1-1...and so my memories during this time are a mixture of great personal and national havoc.

The day after September 11th 2001 found our family in shock along with the rest of the nation. Our young daughters were scared. We let them stay home from school the day after the attacks, Wednesday, the 12th. My oldest daughter was very upset that we did not pick her up from school on the day terrorists attacked America. She came home and cried and cried because a few teachers had inadvertently terrified her after she overheard them discussing the school's potentially dangerous location. Space Center Jr. High is adjacent to Johnson Space Center and there was concern about it being another iconic target. Throughout the day, she heard the whisperings about Johnson Space Center, the location of NASA's Mission Control. In fact, Johnson Space Center was indeed shut down after the was evacuated. Looking across the field from Johnson Space Center, my daughter's school is easily in view. However, yesterday, as we were under attack, I thought the kids would benefit from remaining in school. Turns out, school attendance made the day more memorable because of the public terror.

My youngest, at the elementary school had been in the car with me early that morning as the towers were attacked. Apparently, she had intensely listened with me to the LIVE newsradio report with the Manhattan caller who was watching and describing the attacks on the towers from his apartment. She went straight inside the school, to her math class and told the teacher that New York had been attacked. The teacher actually chastised my daughter and told her to sit down; she told her to not say such terrible things. Within minutes, this teacher took a call on her cell from her husband who was informing her of America being the victim of terrorists. She was so upset that she dropped her phone and began crying. My daughter already knew the subject of the phone call.

To shield our children the best we could, the day after the attacks, we let the girls stay home for a day of recovery and reassurance. We did something unusual, we let the girls play videos all day long. It was a simple way to re-direct their minds from the tragedy while we hid our television update viewing. We could not erase the terror of September 11th, but tried to give them a break from the bombardment of ongoing devastating news reports.

What can we tell our children in this situation? Is there anywhere that is safe? How do we explain the reasons that regular citizens were the target? At least there are incredible stories mingled with the heart-wrenching ones. Today, we heard about a police officer who had been on the 82nd floor as the tower collapsed. He described "rolling down with the building." He has a broken leg and a mind full of trauma to deal with. With all my soul, I believe that terrorists are mere cowards - this attack is as if someone has stabbed another in the back. Obviously, they did not want to confront our military, instead, they targeted men, women, children...all were fair game to the beasts who preyed upon the blood of the innocent.

The day after the attacks, one of my Professors said, "Here we are trying to do normal things, and as we sit, rescue workers are digging through the rubble, looking for survivors and finding the dead. But, we must continue so the bad souls won't win. Our life, on the whole, must go on so the terrorists will not win."

Happy family times in Texas ---- Days of Deeper Innocence
Little did I know that my Addison's diagnosis was right around the corner. During this time of national mourning and a time of every American household trying to find a reason to smile, I was quickly going downhill. For the past month, I had visited the doctor's office or an emergency room at least twice per week. There were no answers. Sometimes, I would be connected to IV lines, given fluids and I would feel a bit better, then be discharged. After a few hours, the entire process would start all over again. As of September 11, 2001, my body was to the stage of not cooperating normally, but nothing was normal. Every morning I drank a large V8 because it was mysteriously helping my body feel more "energetic" for a short while. I had a definite abnormal craving for V8 juice. Around lunch, I'd drink another V8. I didn't really have energy to eat regular foods any longer. I felt sick all of the time and couldn't shake it. The attacks on September 11th, 2001 gave additional reasoning for me to ignore my own health and to make ongoing excuses as to why my body was not able to stand for any substantial length of time. I'd simply tell myself that my physical illness had been compounded by the attacks - many of us were physically sickened, especially if we had loved ones working in a federal building. No one knew what else to expect from the terrorists.

Day by day, my health was deterioriating. Often, I was in danger of collapsing. I tried to hide my increasing physical decline. To be honest, my "weakness" was highly embarrassing to me. Frequently, my fragile condition forced me to sit or to lie down throughout most of the day. Regular workouts at the YMCA were suddenly an impossibility. I couldn't even hold myself upright...How was I to lift a weight? My life was falling apart. My life at home, my academics, and my business life were all suffering. Within a few weeks, my body would be powerless and the simple act of breathing would become an Olympic feat. I had been a strong, vibrant 33 year old woman, I could not imagine that my life was in such terrible danger from a rare disease that was capturing me in its relentless grip. Addison's disease - I'd not yet ever heard of this disease, but I would soon receive its life-long label.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

ENTRY #21 - Addison's Mysterious Handbook?

Short Description of a Hobby: an activity that USUALLY increases leisurely amusement. But, if this extracurricular activity is beneficial because it increases life-saving strategies, it might be the best hobby you ever started.

Addison's Disease or adrenal issues can be sticky conditions to confront. Whether you are living with this disease or are helping a loved one who does suffer with this is difficult. That is the simple is difficult.

Upon diagnosis, we often hear insufficient, technical details about this disease. We learn about Cortisol and steroid treatments and stress and there is usually no one around to call to talk with the little, intimate details of this disease. Often, our mind goes into sputter-mode, then races around, then sputters again, and we are given few answers. The LACK of digestible information can, in itself, be overwhelming. When a medical condition is more prevalent, it is simply easier to discuss. The frequency of discussion means everything gets chewed and broken down so that it is easier to swallow. As for those with Addison's disease or adrenal insufficiency...we are stuck with gristle. Keep chewing.

I am finding through incredible emails with other people living with Addison's disease that we share a lot in common, even though our individual experiences are unique. Often, we feel inadequate. But, our experiences can be shared; good and bad situations can be discussed. If you have the direct support of others who have knowledge of this issue, then it is possible that you can sit and share an appetizer while a wordless understanding passes between you both. For the rest of us, we need words or music or prayer. We need to express ourselves, to know we are not alone, and we need to quit living in fear of facing the ramifications of this disease. But, when you and your family are facing a rare medical condition, it can surprisingly become the elephant in the room you all tip-toe around while being silent. Sometimes it's easier to remain silent. Yes, there is a time for silence, but if you face this disease, in any capacity, then silence is not your friend. Start practicing being loud and clear.

The problem with an emotional side-effect of Addison's Disease is the tendency for patients to withdraw. The symptoms can lead to embarrassment. Personally, I do not relish being nauseated in public, and the muscle weakness with a sudden and dangerous plunge in blood pressure can be enough to make you run for a nearby cave. Who wants to end up on the floor as everyone stares in confusion? Yes, I've been there a time or two, and it's not a treasured vacation destination.

After years of living with Addison's disease or perhaps after you face an Addisonian Crisis or two or three or four, it becomes natural to find yourself frustrated over the lack of overall knowledge that comes with this disease. For those who are dealing with an inordinate amount of suffering because of adrenal issues, there is usually not enough understanding to be found. For patients with Addison's, even those who do not show outward suffering are likely fighting unseen demons. Addison's patients, I'm finding, are the true masters at disguise.

A person who has cancer has an immediate quasi-understanding of this diagnosis. Just about anyone who hears the "C" word has an moment of instantaneous comprehension and they often find standard "cancer" images flashing across their mental screen. Concepts of tumors, radiation, needles, chemotherapy, pink, bald heads and more are closely tied associations linked to cancer. Over four years ago, my beautiful mother died from breast cancer. She had a brutal, invasive carcinoma that rapidly metastasized in spite of radiation, surgery and five separate chemo treatments. In less than three years after her initial diagnosis with two tumors discovered in her lower left breast, she was gone. She died at only 57 years of age and without time to boast of life-telling wrinkles. I desperately wanted to see her live long enough to have long lines, little lines and deep lines etched into her porcelain-doll face. Was I close to my mother? Well...yes...emotionally and physically. I lived six houses down from my mother's house. So, I can honestly say that I hate cancer with every cell in my body.

It is terrifying to be told that you or someone you cares about has cancer; we are so programmed to understand the deadly potential of cancer. But, even though Addison's can be deadly, it is not readily comprehended and this can add to the negative statistics. After my mom's "Big C" diagnosis, one afternoon we held one of our many powerful conversations. But, this afternoon we discussed our conditions. In her sweet, yet very educated Southern voice, she told me that she had made a few random observations about the similarities and the huge differences between our diseases. Earlier in the day, she had contacted her breast cancer support group, so the topic festered within her because she definitely understood Addison's disease from my numerous experiences with her by my side. I listened as she explained...

--Addison's disease, like cancer, can kill.
--Addison's disease, like cancer, can leave a person alive, yet tragically altered.
--Similar to some cancers, Addison's disease can often be managed and endured, indefinitely.
--Addison's is a diagnosis that might not be immediately attached to the dreaded word "terminal" but it also means living with the fact that the next day might mean your life has ended because of an Addison's Crisis. Yet, the flip side means that not having that word "terminal" automatically attached to the Addison's diagnosis means you have additional, incredible "hope."
--Cancer and Addison's both mean that medical treatment does not guarantee survival because sometimes the best intervention is not enough for either.
--Some cancers can indeed be "cured" completely while Addison's is a life-long condition that will never go away.
--The last, stark difference she mentioned on this day, after talking with her support group was that, unlike cancer, Addison's is not a common word. It is not an easily understood disease.

Personally, I've never seen or heard a doctor trying to pronounce the dirty word, "Cancer." However, I have seen too many ask me, "...and how would that be spelled?" I'd call that question a rocky start, at best. I guess those of us who battle Addison's at the homefront have a duplistic desire. On one hand, fortunately, for the general population, Addison's disease is so rare that it is not likely to be easily understood by one casual sentence. On the other hand, unfortunately, for those of us who are intimately acquainted with this disease, this means fewer people, personally and medically, will grasp the ramifications of this disease. For some of us, that rush for a textbook answer is too late.

I've heard a doctor once say that he never had seen a patient that "looked so great while dying" until he had seen an Addison's patient. This doctor was on E.R. duty in the Houston area and a young, female patient walked by herself into triage and promptly told the staff that she had recently been diagnosed with Addison's, but she'd lost her job and had not been properly taking her medications. This doctor, who I also consider to be a friend, said that this woman was his very first Addison's patient, and he immediately knew this was a life-threatening situation. Her blood pressure was a tad low, but he quickly treated her as if she were in an obvious full-blown Addisonian Crisis. As they attached the IV, gave the solu-cortef injection, fluids, etc., she was laughing while simultaneously saying she felt "weak." After aggressive intervention and numerous consults, this woman was dead within six hours. She had waited too long, had been unmedicated for too long and it was too late. She was in her twenties and appeared healthy, other than having Addison's. This physician was devastated. Addison's disease can be like the monster under the bed. Sadly, this woman hit the point of no return. She did admit to being very sick for about two weeks prior to going to the E.R. Sometimes, as many of you know, an Addison's Crisis can go so far that is difficult or impossible to reverse. This is a very solid reason that this disease should not be ignored.

Of course, there are stories of people who live to be a ripe old age with Addison's Disease. Perhaps those people don't have the dangerous levels of imbalance that others with the disease are prone to experience. Additional medical conditions are a serious complication for those with Addison's disease...if you have a condition that is taxing to your body, it follows common sense that the physiological stress will add to the trouble with treating the Addison's. Do physicians discuss these things freely with their adrenal patients? Drawing upon my personal experience, the answer is a resounding, "NO." Putting the pieces of the puzzle together takes too much mental energy. Once the degree is hanging on the wall, many doctors feel as if study-time is finished and auto-pilot has kicked in. Could this be another reason for Addisonian patients and their loved ones to be pro-active? Absolutely!

A blog friend and I were communicating the other day about a simple cold --- it can be deadly to a person with Addison's Disease. Is this fact made abundantly, without-a-doubt, unquestionably clear to new patients and their families? Often...the answer is, "No, not so much." What about a "minor" broken bone? How about a case of food poisoning? What about emotional stress that is so serious that it taxes the body's regular health level - such as when a loved one dies? These are things in our treatment that must change. How is a person to switch gears so dramatically in their lives, especially when the diagnosis is something you have never even heard of before? How do patients go from taking over-the-counter medicines (such as Dayquil) for a cold to suddenly grasping that a previously "annoying" cold can now be as deadly as a major heartattack? It is incomprehensible.

Usually, the instructions are rattled off by a hurried doctor as we sit there overwhelmed or as we are trying to cope with being very sick and our mental absorption rate is not at its best. They might tell us that medications are to be increased under conditions of stress, but there is often a grave misunderstanding in what this exactly means. Sometimes elusive answers are purposefully given because of their own lack of understanding. Once, after my first question, I had an Endocrinologist flat out tell me, kindly, "Look it up on the Internet; that's your best reference for this disease." At least he was honest. Wow.

Where is the instruction booklet for those dealing with Addison's or adrenal insufficiency? Where is the quick reference guide? Well, keep looking because we are out of luck. Often, we are not given enough initial information to sufficiently enable a new patient to properly treat this condition. That could mean life or death. If we are not told, how are we to know? Or, the doctor provides a Cliff Notes version in a way that is grossly understated for life to be sustained during an emergency. Maybe there should be a textbook issued to new patients at diagnosis, and the next appointment can be "test" time. That is an amusing thought. We'd all avoid all doctors! But, surely would be the "test" of a lifetime. I am positively convinced that very few people with medical degrees would pass those tests without having to study beforehand themselves. And, here we are...fathers, mothers, nurses, executives, engineers, poets, artists and business people...we are not adrenal experts. Your doctor could guess wrong and that could cost a life. Yes. This disease is serious. If you have battled it on a heightened level, then you have already been educated beyond your desire.

So, how are we supposed to become mini-experts in this disease? Personally, I am sick of reading dry, narrow-minded medical abstracts that do not consider a huge VARIABLE. That variable is daily life and different, unique people. How do you fit this disease in with the job, school, family life and the laundry? What action do you take after hearing, "Mrs. Jones, your child has Addison's disease and must avoid physiological stress while taking medications for the rest of their life." How do you handle the news, "You have a serious adrenal insufficiency that means you no longer produce the 'fight or flight' hormones and if you get sick, remember to double your meds...Have a nice day." What? Sick? Surgery? How sick? I never had to go into over-drive for survival after catching little upper-respiratory infection. This must be a mistake.

What if you don't feel like tackling this disease? Well, that's another huge must. At the least, you need a head-strong advocate. Anyone who has dealt with this disease for a significant amount of time and who has faced unfortunate health circumstances involved knows first-hand that they must bravely arm themselves with knowledge. This is for survival, not for recreational purposes. You may have never wanted to know about anything science related. Perhaps science was the most boring subject you ever approached; perhaps you flunked science. If so, you will just have to work harder. No easy route. Regardless, if Addison's disease has hit your home...that blissful science-avoidance bubble has burst.

Keep digging as far as you can go. Don't give up. Adrenal science is now your second hobby. On the next questionnaire that asks you to list your hobbies and interests, I dare you to write, "Adrenal Science." If you get a confused look, tell them it was on the Star Trek episode they missed. Let the fun begin!

Back to a serious note...confrontation of Addison's or adrenal issues also includes facing the emotional consequences that accompany such conditions. Now, that angle is without a scientific answer. Each person and each family has their own story, yet we are all linked. How do we conquer this deficiency and clean up the emotional debris left behind by Addison's? I suggest that you keep dusting. When dealing with a disease like this - there are ongoing battles - do your best to prevent build-up. There are many messes. Our emotional state requires regular maintenance. Just as the rest of our body needs attention, so does our emotional state. And, this disease can really leave a physical and emotional disaster behind, repeatedly. The trick is to confront each mess as they best you can. Confrontation has become a part of my personal basic survival. Start building your foundation and you will become stronger, day by day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

ENTRY #20 - Looking Back-Part 2

IF YOU HAVE NOT READ "LOOKING BACK-PART 1," which is part of blog label "9-1-1 and Diagnosis," then make sure, if you want the entire account, to read Part 1 before reading the below post. Since 9-1-1 was a time that mingled with my Addison's diagnosis, this cannot be easily brushed under the rug. The post below is Part 2 of my "Looking Back" entry collection which is a recount of the time just before I was officially diagnosed with Addison's Disease. If you have Addison's disease or an adrenal insufficiency, you know how it is NEVER a great time for such a diagnosis, but this was a time of great turmoil for us individually and as an entire nation. At the time of the below journal entry, I was a very sick woman who had already been to more than a dozen doctor appointments and multiple emergency room trips, but still did not have an answer. At the time of this old journal entry, most of us in America (and beyond) were experiencing an abnormally stressful time in our lives because terrorism hit us hard. It was on our home-front. As for my physical decline, many of us with Addison's or with a severe adrenal insufficiency downfall do remember the painful details of the time we became so ill. For me, having my diagnosis coincide with the events of 9-1-1 makes my recollection difficult because I was so immersed in my heart aching for every soul touched by this murderous tragedy. As for Addison's, for some of us, the diagnosis came fast, but, for others, the diagnosis was slow going or not made until the unthinkable had already happened. Either way, we're left dealing with the issues this condition can bring. So, here I go back into my hand-written journal and to a time of national and international the day many of us remember...9-1-1.


Journal Entry: September 11, 2001 (continued from blog entry #19)
As I pulled into the driveway of our home, I battled the need to vomit. My body was involuntarily shaking, and I felt light-headed. I knew I shouldn't have driven, but I never imagined that this quiet morning drive to take my little daughter to the elementary, just a few blocks away, would be disrupted by a news radio account of live-terrorism on our American soil. In fact, on the car radio, I'd heard a Manhattan caller describe the first tower blazing, and as he was trying to calmly give details about the scene before him as he was looking out his blown-out windows, the second tower was suddenly struck. At that point, the caller lost all remaining composure and it was hard to not crumble at his pained voice that had turned to screams. His panicked voice became a living horror story for all of us listeners.

Initially, the radio station announcer had tried to return to his job and to a sense of normalcy by claiming we had all just personally heard a terrible double-tragedy occurring...a horrendous double "freak" accident. I didn't buy it. It only took moments for the announcer to come to an audible realization that he also contemplated the possibility of this not being some kind of small-plane-off-course accident, x2. However, throughout my short drive home it was also mistakenly thought by the radio station that the two planes involved with striking the towers were small, private planes. It could not be conceptualized by all of us, hundreds of miles away that these planes were commercial airliners. Still, I had immediately and instinctively known, as the second plane flew into the second tower that this could not have been an "accident."

In the driveway, I tried to take a few deep breaths and to compose myself. I turned the radio down, shut off the engine and began to make my way back inside the house on wobbly legs. My oldest daughter was already in school at her Junior High and now my youngest was in her elementary my husband and I would be in the house alone. All of us were far from Manhattan, yet the sadness of the two planes crashing into the towers was palpable.

Because I had been feeling so ill, my husband had taken the day off from work. If we had known how quickly downhill I was about to physically descend, he would not have taken any extra time off. As it was, I was thankful to have him home with me on this nationally historic day. As I opened the front door to the house, I could hear the television in the master bedroom. It was loud. I closed the door and realized that the television was reporting the same scene I just left from inside my car with the radio reports. I shut the door and began running to the master bedroom.

Once inside our bedroom, I stood watching the screen and could not believe my eyes. I squinted. My vision was going blurry again. The large V8 I'd craved and drank early that morning for extra "energy" was suddenly wearing off. As the TV on top of the tallboy chest of drawers was blaring a live newscast, my husband sat on the edge of the bed watching the screen and he was quietly saying, "Oh my God." He was watching a LIVE news report of the towers burning and the repeated reruns of the second tower being struck by a plane. My mouth gaped open as I stepped closer to the TV. They showed it tower was burning and the camera caught a second plane flying directly into the second tower, causing great destruction. Then, a LIVE view would return to show both towers simultaneously burning, and we remained speechless. Side by side, the strong metal and glass sculptures were melting. However, no one could imagine how the towering sisters would soon collapse upon themselves.

My husband and I momentarily looked at each other. We both knew what this meant. Years ago, my husband had served in the Air Force and had been assigned to special duty as an Anti-Terrorist Police. We had lived for a few years overseas while he served his country. Unlike most people who lived in bliss about terrorism...we never had. From a very young age, early in our marriage, we understood these ugly truths. Terrorism training had been my husband's daily job. It was a part of our household. Back then, discussions of international terrorist acts were a part of our own little world that few people back home understood. My husband had been trained specifically in the field of "terrorism." I'd once gone to base in Germany and parked my car so I could spend the day in the library. Little did I know, my parked car had been volunteered for use in a bomb search. It had been rigged with a simulated bomb, complete with the smell of a bomb for the dogs to also use in practice. These days were our "normal." My trip to the library; my husband's day practicing bomb searches. So, yes, I had seen more than the average person when it came to counter-terrorism activism. My husband and I both knew it was only a matter of time before terrorism hit America as it had on the level it had been hitting a part of their history. Still, nothing can prepare you for the devastation attached to any act of terrorism.

We stared at each other. For a long while, we said nothing. We simply were too shocked to speak. So, we watched TV as it displayed both towers burning. From the reports and sights, it was clear that the first tower had been hit rather high and the second tower was hit lower which obviously caused much greater, immediate loss of life simply due to the point of impact. Both buildings combined had so many stores which were destroyed by the impact and the stories above both points of impact were, essentially, unreachable.

Suddenly, I felt as if my legs were going to buckle beneath me, so I went to our bed and sat down. We watched the flames on the towers grow and the black smoke billow outward with greater intensity. Definitely, these buildings were truly towering infernos. It was unbelievable. A few reporters were filming people standing on the streets of Manhattan as they were looking upward at the burning buildings. As debris began to fall to the streets below, there was more panic. Shocked onlookers there at the scene of the tragedy began to run to escape the danger. I found myself occasionally yelling, "Run! Don't stand there! Get away, far away!" Then, I would again realize that the shock from the sight must have been indescribable, yet mesmerizing. So many of those people probably worked inside of the one of the towers or they probably passed by them almost daily. How could this be happening? Maybe some of those shocked onlookers had family or friends or co-workers in one of those buildings and they were standing there waiting for them to run out. Regardless, I ached at the longing inside that I had at wanting everyone to run far away from the burning towers.

Only a short time had passed since I came home, but now there were images on the screen that could never be erased from our mind's eye; people were jumping from the burning towers. My husband rose from the bed and walked out of the room with his fists balled up. I knew he was angry about the terrorists. I sat and cried softly while forcing myself to watch the screen - as if it were my way of paying respect to those who were dying this morning. Untold innocent people had already been murdered and were still dying. The least I could do was watch and be in constant silent prayer. Yes, they had my respect and my love. Their forced braveness would never be forgotten. I would never forget. The nightmarish scene turned darker, at first, the announcers thought jumpers were part of the falling debris, then, to their own dismay, they realized that chunks of debris could not be wearing shoes. This was not a part of Hollywood. These were not stunts. This was happening.

America was no less than stunned and sickened. But, I force myself to write in my journal this evening of September 11th of 2001 because this morning began with such incredible loss of innocence for our country, but it was only the beginning. Soon, news reports gave more information; these two planes had indeed been commercial airliners that had been hijacked to be piloted by terrorists. Each plane had carried innocent passengers. Each had purchased a ticket for a destination; many had loved ones eagerly anticipating their arrival, but they ended up with their destination being death and destruction. Our own citizens were used as tools in a terroristic plan - all of those passengers were simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time. No one is immune from terroristic attacks. The terrorists wanted to use those full fuel tanks as controlled bombs. Quickly, it became very clear that their plan was to hit more than the towers.

David came back into the room and said, "America will never be the same; those are innocent civilians, they are not even targeting military. Typical terrorists...taking the cowardly route." We were both nauseated.

To everyone's continued dismay, the terrorists did not stop with the towers. Next, to add to the images that were too unbelievable to describe, another commercial airliner with innocent passengers, a third airliner, that had been hijacked and piloted by a suicidal-homicidal terrorist had crashed. Obvious to everyone was the terrorist's intent to destroy our icon of military politics and leadership at the Pentagon. They hit their target. Over the day, the Pentagon blazed and its three stories essentially collapsed, but the extent of the damage will not be completely clear just yet. It's too early, but the death toll has got to be high. Everyone begins to wonder outloud, "What is next? WHERE is next?" My husband and I realized that commercial airliners could be shot down from the sky. The possibility loomed. More death. More destruction. How could people become so warped that they could board a plane with the intent to kill? The terrorists must have looked into the faces of children who were with their mothers as they tried to take their seats. Hardened hearts and demented thought processes prevailed. The only message conveyed with this kind of attack upon innocence is one of evilness filled to the brim with hatred. A hatred of life itself.

The morning moved onward. Time has no sensitivity. There is no slowing the seconds of time as we keep moving forward into the hands of life...or death.

Horror-stricken, this same morning, we learned that a fourth commercial airline with beautiful people onboard who were only wanting to travel from one destination to the next had crashed miles from their probable targeted site, perhaps the President's working retreat of Camp David. Perhaps more information will come to light later on. However, for today, as of September 11th, it's not yet clear. It is clear that more people have been murdered at the mercy of crazed terrorists; everyone on board the fourth plane are gone.

From the reports I saw today, four of our planes were hijacked, two from American Airlines and two from United Airlines. This is barbaric terrorism. News reports are already linking Osama Bin Laden to the terrorism. Bin Laden is apparently connected to a highly organized, well protected and heavily backed terror organization. He has many followers. Most people cannot fathom a "name" linked to terrorism, but just as any organization has a leader, so do terror organizations. Even in terror organizations, there are chains of command or a CEO in charge with their "appointed" executives. For the normal person, it's difficult to fathom, but terror organizations exist. Many Americans can remember the terror of the Klu Klux Klan, but some find it challenging to imagine a terror organization that spreads hate more broadly.

This morning was not over yet. Just minutes apart, the towers that had been so huge and imposing began to crater. First one tower fell, then the other fell from the sky down below onto any onlookers, emergency personnel, their emergency vehicles and adjacent buildings were impacted. It is terrible. Anyone left inside the buildings were dashed downward with the twisted, burning wreckage. I am writing this journal entry on the day of the attacks so that I never forget my personal account. I want my children and their children to know what we lived to see. But, we do not yet know the extent of the damage; I can safely gauge that it appears to be gruesome.

Today, in Manhattan, you could see billowing smoke and floating debris as it blanketed the entire city. It was a terrifying sight. As the first tower fell, black, thick smoke began to travel down the streets of Manhattan as if it were a nightmare come true. It rolled through the streets like an uncontrollable beast and swallowed all who were in its path. With the blackness came sadness and a despair that can't be explained. It engulfed everything in its path. After the first tower fell, within short minutes, the second tower fell. The sky had been filled with the majesty of man's determination, intelligence and hard work. Mankind builds and mankind destroys. At this point, I don't know if it's true, but it's reported that some sort of "mash" area in which hundreds of injured people were taken for emergency treatment was destroyed by the second tower collapse. A horrible truth is that many trained people who could have helped in this dire situation were lost in the tower's dismantled pieces. We couldn't believe both towers had disappeared from the skyline. It was as if there were an orchestrated implosion taking place. Early this morning, both buildings had opened for business as they began to bustle with worldwide business transactions; late this morning, both buildings would disintegrate before our unbelieving eyes.

All of that man-made glory is back to rubble; all of it unraveled by evil in a flash.

As the day wore on and all of us felt weary, we heard about a woman on one of those planes who used her cell-phone to call her husband to tell him that her plane had been hijacked by at least a couple of men with box cutters. She told her husband that they had already injured some of the flight attendants. Repeatedly, she was asking her husband, "What do I do?" Over and over. That conversation would be the last ever held with her husband. He would always remember her desperate desire to do something that could stop the maniacs, but she was defenseless and he was helpless.

On another flight, a man was in the bathroom calling 911 and pleading for help as their plane had been hijacked. A call to no avail. All of these personal stories will be coming to light over the new few days, weeks and months. A lifetime of stories to be revealed. So many stories of heartache, courage, love and remembrance. Surely, we wish such stories would only be fiction, yet this day will be a part of our history. It is our reality. Years from now, we will continue to recall this day, and we will mourn. Truly, America will never be the same. I pray that we will be better.

Today, it seems as if we are surrounded by destruction. It's difficult to see anything else, but I will try. That's one thing that the terrorists did not count upon ---- the American Spirit. It can't be defined and it can't be snuffed out. Through adversity it only grows stronger and more determined. This reminds some people or teaches others that old saying is there for a reason, "Freedom has never been free." Today, we see that anger and the desire to punish those who enjoy Freedom's reach. But, there are defenders of Freedom. Those brave ones will continue to sacrifice so that the rest of us may savor every moment of Freedom. Let it ring.


Current Day Entry & Addison's Disease Recollections during 9-1-1:
After the kids got home from school and their own shock at the day's events were discussed, my husband and I fell into bed exhausted. During the day, on multiple occasions, I had nearly hit the ground from losing consciousness. I chalked it up to being very stressed about our homeland being attacked by cowards. How could I complain after seeing the destruction and the suffering that had taken place in America today? I ignored my body's warning signs. I made excuses. Throughout the day, again, I had lost all appetite, but I doubt this was a day for any kind of normal feasting in America. But, I had actually vomited a couple of times and could not shake the weakness that flooded my body. Actually, I had become accustomed to these afflictions, but I continued to blame my body's reaction and weakness on the stress endured with the rest of the nation. By evening, I was very sick. A voice in the back of my mind was telling me that there was something really wrong with me, but I couldn't imagine going to an emergency room on such a day as this. No, I would crawl into bed and try to sleep.

Sleep escaped me. I would start to drift off and would wake up gasping for air. I would awaken, not be able to breathe and I would jump to my feet and would desperately try to pull in a breath of air. It seemed to take an eternity for my lungs to refill with air and to start working again. This began to happen regularly, two to three times per night. Sometimes, my husband would waken before my body realized I wasn't breathing. He'd shake me and have a terrified expression and I'd hear him yelling, "Breathe! Breathe dammit!"

Yes, I told the doctors what was happening. Doctor after doctor had no answer. They would look at me and remark about how "healthy" I looked and about what "great shape" I appeared to be while adding that I was so "young," so there could not be anything terribly amiss. They were terribly wrong. Now, with 9-1-1 changing our world, I made a dangerous decision to try to ignore my warning signs. I wanted to be as normal as possible. For short bursts, I could pretend to be somewhat normal and not let anyone know how often I was vomiting or that I could barely stand upright any longer. I was a speck of dust on the earth. Depressed, I wondered...Why should I go to the doctor when thousands are dead? I think many people felt deflated on September 11, 2001.

Friday, September 3, 2010

ENTRY #19 - Looking Back-Part 1

Old Journal Entries leading up to the entire world changing and my own little world collapsing soon after...


Journal Entry: Sept. 10, 2001 - Monday - Sunny nice day, but not too hot.
I'm on cloud nine. I feel such hope, such a rainbow of opportunity. God has put something that churns inside of me...I want more than the regular "American Dream." My business is great; our home is beautiful; the kids are happy, but there has got to be more to life than this money grind version.

The last few weeks, I've been feeling odd. Deep down, I know something is really wrong. My body is not cooperating as it should; I've been to doctor after doctor and it seems nothing can be found but a salt deficiency and chronic low blood pressure. Maybe this is how I am supposed to feel after 30. I have no idea. But, I'm pushing all of that aside today. Today is beautiful. Today is amazing. I feel such a huge burst of hope. For some reason, His spirit of renewal is upon me, and I'm thankful. Darkness has shrouded me for so long; I'm stepping into the light and feeling its warm, welcoming glow. It is awesome.

Journal Entry: Sept. 11, 2001 - Tuesday - The darkest day I've ever known.
My joy from yesterday is now replaced with agony, despair, shock, disgust and a sorrow as deep as can be. America, our beloved country and my fellow Americans along with international innocents were attacked today by terrorists. Cowards. Terrorists are the definition of "Coward." Killing innocent people; bystanders; mothers with their children and old people who are just trying to live out their years in's stomach churning.

This day began normal enough...I was driving my youngest, Stefie, to the elementary school with the news radio playing on the car radio. Lately, I've been too sick to drive, but I felt so healthy yesterday. Lately, feeling good is such a rare experience, so I decided to use this burst of energy to drive the four or five blocks to personally drop my baby off at school. What a great morning we thought it would be for us.

We buckled up and were making the short drive to the school while listening to the radio and the reporter said something like, "The World Trading Center in Manhattan has had one of its towers accidentally struck by an airplane." My ears picked up the report, but sometimes we are so accustomed to foul news reports that we remain detached - we have to, for survival. However, this news report would soon turn so foul and heart-wrenching because it involved all of us - Americans and beyond.

I rounded the corner and our car was now in the drop off line in front of the school. My daughter was excited about her day. Then, the reporter said they had an eyewitness caller, for everyone to pay attention. The caller had a sickening sound to his voice and a sense of urgency that could not be ignored. I turned up the volume. His voice filled the confines of the car as he said, "Oh my God, I saw the entire thing from the window of my apartment here in Manhattan. My place faces the towers and all of my windows have been blown out." The caller was breathless and had panic in his voice, but he attempted at some restraint, "I'm seeing horrific things I can't even fully describe; there are flames, smoke and the Trade Center is's burning."

A sick feeling in the pit of my stomach began to gather. We pulled the car up a tad further; I kissed my sweet daughter and she got out of the car to walk with her little friends from the walkway into the elementary building. But, she looked back with a worried expression. I waved and tried to put on a good smile. As she was disappearing, I turned the radio up very loud and the caller began screaming, "Oh my God, Oh my God! The other tower just blew up too! Oh my God! It's an explosion, and I can feel the heat from the inferno - it's coming through my windows! Oh my God!" Then, there were sounds as if things were being knocked around and him yelling about all his windows being gone. He was screaming that he had to get out of there; the phone was no longer up to his mouth. It was probably in his hand as he ran screaming. We all listened.

Immediately, I was in shock. I had no visual for this scene, it was all by radio, but I could only imagine the horror taking place because of the caller's obvious devastation and terror. I began to shake. Suddenly, the short drive home didn't seem so short. I just needed to get back home.

I paid extra attention to driving these short blocks. It seemed as if every passing car knew something was wrong. Everyone drove extra slow. The shaken radio announcer came back on in an attempt to give some kind of calm, professional explanation, he somewhat stuttered, "Clearly, there has been a double tragedy. Apparently, another plane has hit the other tower. This has been a horrible double accident." The Southern girl in me was already shouting outloud inside my car, by myself, "What? An accident? This isn't an 'accident,' this is a flat-out, chicken-shit Terrorist attack!"

Immediately, after the caller had gone into public agony after the second plane hit the second building; it was clear that this wasn't an accident. No, it was an evil, destructive plan. I drove the rest of the way home with tears streaming down my cheeks and anger spreading throughout my body. Too many emotions were churning. I began to feel light-headed and nauseated, but I figured everyone else in the world who was decent, kind and compassionate was feeling the same exact thing.


Back to Today...
I will finish this particular old journal entry later, probably later today. For now, it's still difficult to sift through all the events of that horrible day which we collectively know as 9/11. I'm sure some of you have friends, family, co-workers, etc., that were directly involved in this tragedy. Take comfort in knowing that so many hearts throughout the world were connected to yours on this day...and still the connection remains.

As for my Addison's disease, due to my many doctor visits being useless, I did not yet know that I even had this rare disease. Later, I would discover that I had been unknowingly living in a prolonged state of an Addisonian Crisis, but this event helped to put me over the top. Within days, I'd be in the hospital coding as the rest of the world mourned a national, yet world-wide tragedy.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

ENTRY #18 - International Friends

As of today, I've officially had my blog for two months. It's hasn't been as easy as I thought it would be to get "real" with people about Addison's. It requires me blowing up my personal walls. I haven't even really started. The ugly stuff is still struggling to come out.

Soon, my daughters are going to also make contributions that will give their angle as kids who grew up with a mom who has battled too many times of being critically ill. But, I am amazed at the readership. I have just a few "official" signed-up followers, but my readership for outside hits (with emails) has already been about 1,000 ----- from ALL OVER THE WORLD ----- not including the U.S.A., I have contacts from China, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Latvia, Israel, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada and France.

If you are out there, be brave and sign up so I can see you better!!! Regardless, I am amazed and extremely touched by the outreach - even the private emails.

If you or a loved one are dealing with a medical issue that impacts your entire life...YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


(Reprinted "Page" of Blog as Entry)

First, I want to make it clear, that I am not a doctor...Thank God. I am not a medical professional and this is a blog for creative writing and was started as a means to reach out to others with adrenal disorders so we can relate and draw strength from each other. All of us have very unique struggles, but if you are suffering with Addison's or Adrenal are not alone. Keep reaching out and letting others reach out to you. I've struggled with this area intensely, so I can give voice to it.

Even though I'm not a physician, I do have vast experience with Addison's, multiple surgeries, injuries, and illnesses over the past ten years that would have created huge obstacles for anyone let alone someone with adrenal issues. I am blessed to be alive. That will be on other blogs to be posted very soon. Having Addison's is not something to relish, but it is my path in life. If you have a medical condition...make sure to get medical help by seeing a doctor. But, support systems can and should be a part of your treatment because you have psychological aspects to adrenal conditions that are very unique and understood by very few. As for your physical health, for an endocrine disorder, it's usually great to see an Endocrinologist. Your own research, questioning and gut instinct might be pivotal to your health. With valid reasoning, I am PERSONALLY leery of physicians and cynical from my many experiences, but I also know that there are INCREDIBLE doctors out there who can expertly treat adrenal conditions. Currently, I have a few incredible doctors I visit regularly, but the "incredible" part followed years of trial and error. My interviewing skills have been honed over the past decade. This became a life-necessity.

Sidetip - a PERSONAL bit of advice I have that could be a great resource for finding an incredible doctor is to talk with the nurses. Value their opinion and they will value you. Nurses are our advocate. Make the best use of your time during doctor appointments. Getting your blood pressure taken? Start the friendly straight-forward conversation and ask, "If your life or your child's life were in danger...on a PERSONAL level...which doctor here would you most wish to see so you could better your chances of survival?" Make it clear that you are asking about their own PERSONAL preference, not professional guidance. Help get them off the hook by reassuring them of the mutual respect for privacy and for their valued personal opinion. Not sure about this route? Just so you know, it has served me well. Nurses can be your ally. You might be surprised at some of the answers you'll get - even if by agreed upon loud and clear signals - body language. Try to ask a few nurses so you can get more personal opinions to help with your decision. Another good tip, first make sure the nurse is not the doctor's wife.

Personally, in a way, after the past decade of experience with this condition...I am freer. I no longer hit the books to research this disease in detail; I did that for several years and am past that phase. The below information is my own imperfect summary of this condition. But, these days, I am hitting the emotional nail on the head as I tackle the personal traumas that any adrenal insufficiency battle creates. If you have minimal impact from your adrenal issues, that is great. Not everyone is so fortunate. Not all roads are smooth. My writing focus is now often about my body and mind in a non-technical way; about my family reactions to different phases in this disease, about changed friendships, daily adaptations and the elephant in the room some people will try to avoid seeing at all costs.

Becoming deathly ill and desperate for healing as you go from doctor to doctor is not easy. But, I know others are going through the same thing. I got a diagnosis nearly ten years ago in 2001; in my final hour of need, I was rescued. My writing is mainly an emotional release and a reach-out. After nearly a decade of not being ready to talk about my experiences, I am now sharing, with you.

As for the technical part of Addison's - here is the non-professional, yet highly experienced version of what Addison's means ----- and yes ----- this is the "short" version of a very complicated issue. Good luck my friends and let's always share our wisdom. If you have an easier way of explaining this detailed mess or want to share your own story, I encourage you to do so. Interaction between all of us is very important.


Be prepared...Addison's may also be referred to as Primary Addison's, Adrenal Insufficiency or Hypocortisolism. And don't be fooled by the terms Secondary Addison's or Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency because these are just as deadly as the "Primary" version. Every form of adrenal insufficiency is potentially life-threatening. All of these are to be taken seriously. I am sure I have omitted other defining terms. Please forgive me and educate me. If you are brave enough to tackle the below in your own search, I can relate and I say, "God Bless You" and help you find the answers you need. I won't lie; it is not an easy journey.


A normal person has two adrenal glands. Only two. Each gland is located above the each kidney. The adrenals are relatively small and each adrenal gland has two main structures.

The two structures within each adrenal gland are:
1) The Adrenal Cortex which is the outer perimeter of the adrenal gland, and
2) The Medulla which is the inner part, the center of the adrenal gland. Just remember, Medulla...Middle.

The Adrenal Medulla is the inner part/center part of the adrenal gland and is in charge of secreting epinephrine (also called "adrenaline"), Norephinephrine (also called noradrenaline) and a small amount of dopamine, collectively, these are called "Catecholamines." The medulla of the adrenal gland secretes these catecholamines - which are hormones released in response to stress. Adrenaline cannot be produced elsewhere in the body - it is a hormone that is only produced by the adrenal glands from the amino acids. That is partially why adrenal gland problems are so critical to your health.

Easier to understand, "Catecholamines" are the "Fight or Flight" hormones most of us had heard about. If you have Addison's disease or any kind of adrenal insufficiency, you are probably well aware of these hormones, even if you didn't know the actual word for them. You already understand. If you don't like human anatomy and physiology or any kind of biology, take a break and come back, I'll be waiting patiently.

The Adrenal Cortex is the outer perimeter for the adrenal gland. Here we have cortisol and aldosterone. It is critical to know that cortisol works in cooperation with epinephrine/adrenaline as a response to stress. But, the adrenal cortex doesn't only include production of aldosterone and cortisol; it's also a "secondary" site for Androgen (sex hormones) synthesis. However, many Addisonian's do not need replacement therapy for testosterone because even though the adrenals produce adrenaline/epinephrine and cortisol, etc., only in the adrenal glands, the sex hormones do NOT rely on the adrenal glands as the only site for their production. The adrenal cortex produce "supplementary" Androgens, so that is not a typical life-threatening area of concern with Addison's or adrenal insufficiency. You can have Addison's and still have plenty of testosterone. In fact, speaking for women, we have three areas of Androgen production, but you will not have another source of production for natural cortisol from the adrenal cortex to work with adrenaline/epinephrine, etc., as the adrenal glands are the only factory for those life-sustaining hormones.

Adrenaline literally means "on the kidney" and this word has Latin roots that I won't go into. Anyway, we desperately need adrenaline and its buddies for survival. Adrenaline and Epinephrine are interchangeable, chemically, they mean the same thing. In this respect, I hope you can understand my personal issue with this terminology...I do not use the word "epinephrine" because it simply reminds me of my brother's allergy to bees; I can't shake that mental image. But, we with Addison's are lacking Adrenaline and Cortisol participation. This is not good. So, even though the medical community actually prefers we use the word "epinephrine" over "adrenaline" to describe this particular hormone (back to the bees) I'd rather use the word "adrenaline" - same difference, my particular writing choice. But, remember, I did mention that cortisol and adrenaline/epinephrine must work in cooperation for a proper stress response. Onward...I'm not finished with my "Brain dump." The information swirls around.

An "Adrenaline Dump" is how ordinary people refer to the body’s natural stress response. This term refers to a collective hormone release and amazing body feats. Since I am from Texas, I'll use this example...If you have a raging bull charging your direction and if you have good sense to ponder the impending danger, you will likely have an adrenaline dump. It is your body's way of gathering heightened awareness to prepare for battle. An "adrenaline dump" is actually a cocktail of life-saving hormones and these provide your muscles with the extra UMPH to MOVE ALONG QUICKLY and to possibly FIGHT. After ten years of learning to greatly control this adrenaline dump response...I still remember this sensation. Years ago, my sweetheart and I would ride the Texas Cyclone at Astroworld - a rickety, wood roller-coaster that was fast, loud, and terrifying; those adrenaline dumps were awesome. Now...not so much.

That "Fight or Flight" stress response needs hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol to work. The body produces corticosteroids according to individual need, but they don't work alone. The adrenal glands have two structures for a reason...they work as a cohesive conjunction with the rest of the body and the brain. After all, hormone participation is a key concept. Getting too technical. So............these hormones must mix and mingle, they sometimes bump into one another and say, "Hey, You're it!! I'm passing the torch; your turn!" Therefore, if one of the hormones is slacking, the others will sometimes respond in kind. Worse kind of chain reaction --- No reaction.

Analogy: bacon has fat. You cannot have real bacon without real fat. I'm going all Emeril Lagasse on you now. Yes, in Texas, we cook with bacon fat. Back to the drudgery: You cannot have a real "Adrenaline dump" without special hormonal ingredients. Cortisol is a focus word, but not the entire book. If you don't have cortisol produced by the adrenal cortex, then you won't have a life-saving "adrenaline dump" that defines the "Fight or Flight" response...with insufficient cortisol production, you would only have the "Flight" side of the equation; there is no "Fight" available and you will require synthetic replacement.

Adrenal hormones, in combination, have a serious purpose which is to keep us functioning through stressful times with our body. These hormones are especially useful during an emergency because they increase our heart-rate to get the blood pumping; they increase our blood pressure to allow for all that extra blood pumping; they constrict our blood vessels to hopefully help us keep the blood pumping INSIDE our vessels; the hormone cocktail dilates our air passages to get the oxygen flowing; it gives us tunnel vision so we can focus with intensity; shuts down our hearing so we don't have outside distractions; slows digestion so our body can use that energy elsewhere and these hormones do a whole lot of other things that cannot be explained so easily.

Far down in my account, I must make very honorable mention of the hormone Aldosterone which is produced by the adrenal cortex - remember? This is the outer layer along the perimeter of the adrenal gland. The lack of this little hormone in my body threatened deadly havoc. This particular hormone is very critical to our existence because it also helps to control our blood pressure as well as salt and potassium levels. Sounds rather harmless, but don't try it at home. Aldosterone can be replaced with Florinef, but your body will go out of whack beyond description without aldosterone. Of course, most of the adrenal gland hormones are beyond critical to our existence. If they don't work properly, it is hopeful you will get a correct diagnosis and will then likely be put on medications for synthetic replacement for a lifetime. Thank God we do have researchers and doctors at our disposal. I only wish all doctors realized that they can be better doctors by not always SOUNDING like doctors. Does that make sense? Sometimes, especially when very ill, we need plain talk. Unfortunately, most of us are blind-sided.

As for cortisol - the amount you produce is controlled by another hormone called: Adreno-cortico-trophic-hormone = ACTH. This is part of the mix and mingle and bumping scenario with hormones. ACTH is made in the pituitary gland, just under the brain. If you need surgery on the pituitary, they usually go through the roof of the mouth or through the nose - hope that provides a decent geographical location. ACTH travels through the body's pipeline, better known as the "bloodstream" and it goes to the adrenal glands where it triggers the adrenal glands to make cortisol. Mix, mingle, and bump.

I am almost finished with this shallow, superficial, non-professional approach of providing layman’s wording for adrenal insufficiency. If you are afflicted, an ACTH Stimulation Test could confirm the diagnosis of Addison's. If you have Addison's, the ACTH stimulation test will show that you do not have a rise in blood cortisol following the injections. The stimulation test is an attempt to synthetically get a response from the adrenal glands. There are indepth values that go with the results, but that's going back into a technical side that I am now trying to move away from --- unsuccessfully as you can see. Within hours after I officially coded in the hospital, I had this ACTH Stimulation test. I had also had an A.M. Cortisol and aldosterone blood test among other tests too numerous to mention. And BINGO - we have a winner for the brilliant doctor who figured out my condition. A cardiologist. Finally.

With typical Addison's, usually, the adrenal cortex is affected and the medulla is ok. Weird. However, even with only the cortex of the adrenals affected, the participation for a natural response to stress is over. Adrenaline dumps are depleted. You'll now need medications to replace hormones that would've naturally been dumped into your bloodstream so you could survive daily living AND emergency stressors upon the body. There can be a multitude of reasons behind a person developing Addison's, but most often, it is caused by an auto-immune disorder. Often, the cause of your developing Addison's disease will remain a mystery.

If you have Addison's due to a suspected or confirmed auto-immune disorder, then, for some reason, your body began to see your adrenal cortex, the outer layer of the gland, as an enemy worthy of destruction. Since the adrenal cortex is mistakenly seen as a dangerous invader, the body's defense system sends out the sharp-shooting troops to attack and destroy. Little does the body system know, this onslaught is Friendly Fire. The body turns on itself in an effort to do misguided good. I am a product of internal friendly fire.

August 2010. Genetics apparent in the hair & eyes.
Ruff, Ruff. These are the sweet moments to savor.
Of course, my hubby & kids make life worthwhile as well!