Everyone is busy doing their own thing. My husband is outside in the backyard. Leaning back on the sofa, I am sinking further into my skin as my blood pressure plummets further and prevents my body from being able to yell, scream, or shout for help. These are moments you know this disease is deadly serious. It's not about how "strong" you are or how it "never can happen" to you...it's about this disease randomly showing its ugly teeth and holding you in its relentless grip.
As my husband walks through the backdoor, I try to open my eyes and to make a sound, but my body is already in the depths of an Addison's Crisis; I am drowning. Barely, I see him stride past me with purpose as he glances over at me. Little do I know, at the time, he thinks I've simply laid back for a little catnap. He has no idea that I am IN THERE SCREAMING for him to realize that this isn't a moment of resting my eyes. This is life or death; I can feel my life dangling, but I cannot force my body to do something it has forgotten all about. I am swallowed up.
Lying there captive to my own body, I finally realize that all my internal combat will not do me any good. All it will do is cause me to sink further away, at a faster rate. So, I quit trying to open my eyes, I quit trying to struggle against the natural course that my body has unnaturally followed. I drift off. Now, when my husband passes by and sees me napping, I am truly knocked out, but not by choice. Somehow, I let go and by God's grace, so far I've always been able to slowly start finding my way back.
As soon as my body will function on a slight level, I stumble upward to get to my emergency dose. Taking it, I relax until it kicks in and then I find myself a new woman. A sort of rebirthing process has silently taken place and I can't help but rejoice for the new beginning I've been given.
Later, after I tell my husband that I had been in an Addisonian Crisis as he strolled past me in the living room, he is thoroughly upset.
He asks me why didn't I tell him?
Well, I could not communicate.
He asks why I didn't take a stress dose sooner?
Well, if I'd known an Addisonian Crisis was going to kick in so rapidly, as I was sitting down, I would have flown into action...there were no typical warning signs this time around.
Then, he makes the most disturbing question of all...
How could he have walked past me and not have known that I was in crisis?
Well, a person napping does not look as if they are in a struggle, they look as if they are peacefully sleeping.
My husband has found this part of being a partner to an Addisonian most difficult. The times he looks at me and thinks all is well, then discovers I am in crisis mode is very unsettling. There is not always a flailing, a physical drama of indicating there is a crisis underway, there is usually an absence of the shout "get the stress dose!" and there is often no cut and dry warning signal to make this disease easy to live with.
This past weekend, on our land, I had been through a night in the 40's without heat and in the morning I went into crisis. The main problem was that I was in a tent, my husband was a couple hundred feet away and I had gone so far down as to be encased in brain fog. However, my body was still somewhat awkwardly operational, yet not fully cooperative. I had managed to get outside the tent and to take a seat and to feel the increasing warmth from the sun. He walked over and sat in the chair next to me and began talking.
Suddenly, I felt like passing out. I knew my body would not remain in a sitting position for long, so I suddenly tried standing up to make it back inside the tent and to my medicine. I'd already taken an early morning dose of Hydrocortisone, but knew I needed more. I literally jumped up to move to the tent fast because my body was about to go into another state of existence, I've already learned that there is a point when my body separates from my mind and that is when the body simply won't cooperate, per a typical Addison's Crisis.
Yes, I was in a rush to beat the crisis from taking hold. My husband gave me a strange look and stood to help. He put his arm around me and it was then that he realized I was having trouble taking steps and that my body was shaking with weakness. In the tent, I immediately reached for the Hydrocortisone and gave myself another huge stress dose. I knew I would be okay; I had gotten there in time and just needed to relax. Meanwhile, my husband had gone to my purse to get my emergency injection. He was shaken from sitting so close to me and not realizing that I was going into a crisis. I wish to have grown purple spots from head to toe so it would have been clearly evident, but that's not how this works. He can't beat himself up over it, such is life with an Addisonian. It can be a roller-coaster for those of us on the dark side of the wide spectrum of affliction.
That afternoon he told me that every person who lives with an Addisonian should realize that the signs of crisis might be non-existent to outsiders. At times, it can indeed be clear that there is a problem, but during that initial phase of slipping into the crisis it might be subtle and without a neon sign and foghorn directing attention to the problem. This man knows me. I've been married to him for nearly 25 years, but this disease is like a sly fox. It can sneak up on the person with the disease and surely fool onlookers, even medical doctors. This is why it can be difficult to treat. A person in crisis going into an emergency room does not always look as if they are in the right place. Medical staff who do not understand Addison's cannot comprehend that a quiet, healthy-looking person can be fast approaching death. Unfortunately, that is often how it works.
There are people with Addison's who never experience a full-blown crisis, then there are others who know all too well how it works and they take every imaginable precaution, but this disease is not always so easy to manage. You might be doing everything perfectly, but I have learned a hard lesson to share...life is not perfect and Addison's is not a disease that can necessarily be "tamed" by a regiment. There are variables in life and these can sometimes wake the Addison's monster.
Do all you can to avoid a crisis, but try to communicate an oncoming problem with those in your family. On that cold morning this past weekend, my brain was already wavy and the synapses were firing slow and muffled, so I could not communicate to my husband what I did not clearly understand myself. However, whenever possible, just say, "I am having trouble," or something to simply alert those around you that there is a potential issue arising. If you are like me, you hate to call attention to yourself and you prefer to handle these things on your own to spare those around you from being a nursemaid, but sometimes you must be able to wave the red flag.
I'd like to say that I could've done something better or different this past Sunday morning as my husband stood in shock and realized that my body was stumbling and going into jerky motions because of Addison's. Not letting my body become so taxed by the cold would have been a great start, but there I was. Life happens. I was very fast in taking my meds, my second dose that morning, so I was making adjustments, but it was still scary for him to witness after he'd been sitting next to me so peacefully, only to discover his nightmare had been in silent action.
At least I wasn't to the "napping" stage while we were in the middle of wilderness. But, if that does happen in your situation too, I guess family members could walk over to their Addisonian loved one and pull open an eyelid while asking, "Are you asleep or are you in trouble?" If there isn't a response or if there is a garbled answer, well then, the answer is clear and action can be taken. Of course, this might get irritating over the years, but it just might save a life or two.
|Beautiful bulb flowers we found growing wild on our land. What are they?|