Thursday, December 9, 2010

Entry #29 - Ten Years Ago - A New Life...

Just about ten years ago, after I was diagnosed with Addison's Disease, I found myself living a different life. Some people are diagnosed quickly and get medication into their system so it can function closer to how nature intended. But, there are other people out there who are lingering and very sick with Addison's - because they do not yet know they have this disease and are not getting proper treatment. And yes, there are those very unfortunate ones who do not get the proper diagnosis in time and they succumb.

I was one of those people who was hanging on the ledge for too long. My body had been surviving in Addisonian Crisis mode for so long that it was provoking me to unnatural cravings. Salt was my main craving. I began to avoid eating because it seemed the digestion process made me much worse, so I began to substitute more and more meals with cans of V8. I ate pickles like potato chips and then drank the entire jar of pickle juice. I loved peanut brittle and if I were to have a candy bar, a Payday with its salty peanuts was my first choice. Now, when I look back and see my food choices, I can clearly see that my body was desperately trying to obtain what it needed for my blood pressure to sustain life. Soon enough, there would not be enough V8's in the world to help me continue living. I needed medical intervention.

After coding in the hospital at age 33, the next day I was finally put through several tests that led to my Addison's diagnosis. Those little pills were miraculous. However, I had been sick for so long that my organs had taken a hit ---- recovery was not so easy. Sometimes, I felt as if I could run circles around my kids and still have more energy to spare, then other days I would be barely unable to lift my head off my pillow. Getting the diagnosis was one thing, but becoming stabilized was another. Still, I was in disbelief that my condition actually had a medication available that could magically help me sit upright and to stand without passing out.

However, learning to live with Addison's meant many other lessons. It would not be as simple as taking a few pills. There would be and there continues to be lessons about different bodily stressors which requires me to increase my dosage. There are times when you can't imagine an activity causing additional stress upon your body and you soon figure out that you'd better get more pills down, and fast. Life is a big lesson. The kicker is...every body is different, so one person's body may require more medications for an activity than the other person with Addison's. If you have any condition with adrenal insufficiency, you have got to do more than live IN your body, you must learn to be finely in-tuned WITH your body.

There are subtle signs that I have noticed are an indication that I must increase my vision becoming a bit blurry, my feet dragging or stumbling, getting a slight headache, feeling worn out too early in the day, body aches, etc. Over the years, I have found that I've learned to conduct an inventory of my daily abilities. Sometimes, I still miss the mark. Like many other people in their 40's, I have other awesome health conditions to consider because those can also add stress to the body and require increased meds. Don't rely on your doctor to do all of the a lot of it yourself. Then, discuss it with your doctor. Who knows, perhaps you will encourage her to think about things she never considered. Addison's/Adrenal Insufficiency is not something that is routine, so you must be pro-active.

This weekend, I will have the honor of having a medical professional come to my house to conduct an interview for research he is doing with Addison's/Adrenal Insufficiency. The researcher works with one of the most well known hospitals in the Houston area, and when I asked why he was interested in this area of research, he outright confessed that he has an adrenal problem and he could not find sufficient research on the matter. So, he is doing something about it. He is going out of his way to drive to my house in the Bay Area - he's coming from North Houston and I live on the South side. If you know Houston, you realize that this is about an hour drive, one-way. I am impressed with his determination and his credentials are of the WOW-variety, so I know his research will be interesting.

Surely, all of us with Addison's/Adrenal Insufficiency will benefit from people actively involved in the quest to unravel mysteries with this condition because it is not cut and dry. Our bodies are ever-changing, so this condition is like a sneaky fox. However, I am on the look-out. What kind of day are you having? My feet aren't dragging, so I am not having to adjust my least not yet...but it's only 1:30 in the afternoon. Stay focused my friends.