What the Heck is STRESS??

  1. Stress:  A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
  2. Stress: Your bodies way of responding to any kind of demand or threat.  When you feel threatened your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which in turn rouse the body for emergency action.

But, if you have adrenal insufficiency, your body doesn’t produce the hormones needed to handle stress.  I have adrenal insufficiency and it is a life-threatening illness.

I could go on and on about stress, but most people only think of the normal stress that everyone experiences on a day to day basis.  The stress that aggravates you, puts you in a bad mood, makes you cross with your family or co-workers can land me in the emergency room. An injury or illness can stress out my body so quickly that I don’t see it coming.

Several years ago, my Father-In-Law was suffering from cancer and was moved to a nursing home.  We had out of town family staying at our house, and when he passed away we had all the planning and arrangements to take care of.  A very stressful time.  My family kept a close eye on me, made sure I “stress dosed” and got enough rest.  I made it through the whole thing perfectly.  Two weeks later, my cat died.  I ended up in the hospital with my worst adrenal crisis to date. Dangerously low potassium, sodium and blood pressure.

Another incident that lead to an adrenal crisis was food poisoning.  A UTI threw me in the emergency room with no warning also.

If you have adrenal insufficiency, you must always be prepared! Let people around you understand the importance of your emergency injections, and getting you to the hospital quickly for IV steroids and treatment.

You never know what can start an adrenal crisis, be aware of what your body is telling you.  Don’t ever think you can “ride it out” and get better on your own.  Go to the hospital!

ambulance2

 

 

What? Me? Bitchy????

Last night I was attempting to find something on the Internet.  I was tired and getting confused.  I was frustrated.  After a while I started to swear at the computer, and my Hubby asked me if I was getting BITCHY?  (I thought….watch out…I’ll show you bitchy Buddy).  Later he apologized. I accepted.

But I realized that my many moods sometimes are misinterpreted by others, especially the fabulous Hubby.  Before I got sick I was very even-tempered and easy-going, but I know that my mood fluctuates now depending on how I am feeling.

Chronic illness is a pain in the ass.  I never know how I will feel when I wake up in the morning.  I can’t make plans because if I do, I might have to cancel.  I can’t go out shopping alone, what if I can’t drive home?  Shit, I can’t go anywhere alone because I might get lost.  No, I am not a hermit or loner, I am just not up to par most days.

As far as reading my moods, I have learned that I need to make things easier for people around me.  A frown or a growl doesn’t mean I want to bite your head off, it might mean I am nauseous and I’m afraid I am going to puke get sick.  Laying on the couch with my eyes closed doesn’t mean I am avoiding you, it might just mean I am really dizzy. Staying in my room under the covers doesn’t mean I am anti-social, it might mean I am just too sick to come out of my cocoon.   And yelling at the computer doesn’t mean I’m being bitchy, it might mean I am frustrated that I can’t think clearly through the brain fog.

Maybe I will make flash cards to hold up that will let anyone around me know my mood at the time.  I think that will work.  I will never be called “bitchy” because I have been in the bathroom all afternoon with a diarrhea fit or because my joints have been screaming at me all day.

Thank You for understanding.

I JUST WANT TO BE OKAY

“Someone asked me what are my “Favorite/most useful coping skills – for pain, depression, and all the silly side effects that come with having chronic illness?””

Hmmmm?  Do I have any coping skills, or do I just roll with the flow?  My first thought is that I am only able to cope with my illnesses with the help from my medications.  Other than that, I don’t handle this “chronic illness stuff” well at all. But, I have made it  through many a bad day by remembering some basic things:

  • Accept what you have and don’t argue with God anymore…I don’t mean give up…just accept it

  • Accept help from the people who love you

  • Accept that your HUSBAND and kids are as frightened as you are about this new thing called “chronic illness”

  • Help your family understand what you need…I don’t mean a glass of cold pop or a sandwich…You need to tell them you need rest, understanding , companionship, and sometimes you need to be alone just to be mad at this rude intrusion of illness

  • Help yourself by keeping a journal or blog to express your feelings that you don’t want to share with anyone

I had to accept that I couldn’t drive.

I had to accept that I had to leave my job.

I had to accept that my social life was extinct.

I had to accept that many people just would never understand my illnesses.

i had to accept that my family would not become malnourished because I CAN’T cook every night.

i had to accept that my house would never be clean again.

So, I adapted and tried to do what I could to make my life a little more comfortable without feeling guilty.

My bedroom is beautiful and an oasis for me.  Fleece sheets when it’s cold, crisp cotton sheets when it’s not.  Ridiculously expensive down pillows that are worth every penny I spent on them.

 At times, when I feel bad days a’coming,  I will keep healthy snacks and drinks in my room so I won’t have to go downstairs.

I let my dog and cat sleep with me when I am feeling especially sorry for myself.

I am not embarrassed to ride in those cute little scooters they have at some stores.                                                  

 I am not embarrassed to sit on whatever I can find if I get tired when I am out…and that includes the floor.

 I am not embarrassed to go out without makeup…something I would never have done before I got sick.  I will stay in my jammies all day if I need to.

Sometimes I won’t take a shower until someone comes home because I am afraid I will fall.

 I finally admitted I needed a handicapped tag for my car.

 I let myself cry if I want to.

down_in_dumps

ALL I WANT IS TO BE OKAY

You’ve Got What?

 

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This is a repost from a closed blog.

 

Starting in 1985, I had one medical problem after another.  Two babies, an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage, 9 surgeries for gallbladder, cysts, hysterectomy and a bowel resection…but nothing could have prepared me for what happened to me in 2001.

 

I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed.  I was exhausted, weak, I couldn’t eat, I was confused all the time, and all I did was sleep.   I had debilitating fatigue, muscle weakness, cramping,  low potassium, and nausea.  The doctors kept attributing all my problems to my Crohns.  But I knew it was something else.

 

After several ER visits due to extreme weakness, I was finally admitted to the hospital by my Gastroenterologist.   You know those doctors that tell you they ran every test in the book and didn’t find anything?  Well this guy DID run EVERY test in the book, and he solved the big mystery

 

ADRENAL INSUFFICIENCY.

 I had never heard of it.  Adrenal insufficiency?  What does that mean?  Where are your adrenal glands and what the heck do they do?  What does the pituitary gland have to do with all of this?  What is cortisol? ACTH? DHEA?

 

And the biggest question “why didn’t someone figure out sooner what the hell was wrong with me?”

 

 

 I saw my Sister’s  endocrinologist, I went to the University of Chicago Hospital, and I took a trip to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.  None of these doctors could make me well.  I was told to take my meds and I should feel better.  How many of us have heard that line?   

 

 Because my endocrine system is shot ( pituitary, adrenals, thyroid and ovaries) I am a hot mess. 

The most important hormone the adrenals release is cortisol. Cortisol is the “flight or fight” hormone, it helps you handle stress.  Major stress, such as injury or illness, dehydration, low potassium levels, vomiting, fever or an infection can throw you into an Addisonian crisis, which requires immediate medical attention. 

 I have had many trips to the ER in an ambulance and too many hospital stays to remember.  When a person goes in crisis, IV steroids must to given to keep the patient from going into shock. This can all happen very fast. I keep a supply of steroid injections on hand so if needed, I can give myself a shot before I head to the hospital.  Because I take steroids everyday, infection or illness can be easily masked.  Just as people take steroids to help with inflammation from allergies, asthma or rashes, my steroids can hide a problem until you are very sick or in pain.  In 2005 I had a severe diverticulitis attack without even knowing what was going on.  The steroids kept the inflammation at bay and the infection hidden so I didn’t have pain. One morning I woke up in terrible pain and I ended up in the ER.  An MRI showed a mass in my colon and I needed emergency surgery to remove and repair the damage. 

 

There are so many side effects for a person on daily steroid therapy.  It  can damage bones, the lining of the stomach, weaken  your immune system, can cause cataracts, depression and insomnia.  Even GOOD stress can land me in the ER. 

 

   It doesn’t have to be something bad to affect your stress level, and with no cortisol, an Addisonian is in big trouble. Many times my family noticed I was in trouble and got me to the ER. Confusion is one of the first symptoms for me, and then I just get stupid.  I don’t even realize what’s happening to me. 

I have to wear a medic alert bracelet, and I keep a list of all my meds in my wallet, as does each of my family members.  

 

My life has been forever altered by this disease.  Days, weeks, months and years have been robbed from me because of my inability to function.  From one day to the next I never know how I am going to feel.  Sadly, I have more bad days than good.  My family has been there for me always, and for that I am thankful.