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Adventures in Adrenal Fatigue

Posted Feb 05 2013 4:24am

So remember a few months ago when I went to a witch doctor nutritionist who told me my adrenals were out of whack but then my real doctor told me I was a-ok even though I still felt awful ? Well, get this – I found a real actual doctor who finally listened to me, ordered some more thorough testing, diagnosed me and is TREATING me. It’s a miracle!

I have really, really low levels of cortisol – a condition known as adrenal fatigue.

Here’s the deal. From AdrenalFatigue.org :

Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress, it can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia.

Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc with your life. In the more serious cases, the activity of the adrenal glands is so diminished that you may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours per day. With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive. Many other alterations take place at the biochemical and cellular levels in response to and to compensate for the decrease in adrenal hormones that occurs with adrenal fatigue. Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price.

Dr. Almost-Cousin Mackenzie, stop rolling your eyes!

Adrenal Fatigue is kind of like what fibromyalgia once was – seemingly random symptoms that many doctors generally wrote off. My doctor buys it, though, and she prescribed Cortef (hydrocortisone) for me. I’ve been on it for about six weeks, and I feel so much better. In fact, before my grandpa died, I was feeling so amazing that I was ready to ask my doc if I could try going off my anti-depressant – that is huge for me. The stress of the last couple weeks, though, has set me back somewhat, but I still feel way better than I did before.

So even if it’s all hocus-pocus, it seems to be working for me.

I guess what I want to get across is this.

A few months ago, I felt awful. AWFUL. I was depressed and exhausted. Despite working out more than ever (training to walk 60 miles in three days), I had gained 20 pounds in four months. I knew something was wrong with me, but my family doctor and then an endocrinologist both told me I was totally fine. I left the endo’s office and sobbed in the parking lot. I sent my friend a text message that said “I just left the endocrinologist, and even though I have lots more nodules on my thyroid than I did last time, my thyroid is fine, it’s all in my head. I have two kids and a job and should become comfortable with feeling like shit. I am fat because I am lazy and eat too %*&$ing much. So there’s that.”

I felt incredibly defeated. I felt stupid.

Fortunately, a month or so later, I had an appointment with a new doctor who actually heard what I was saying. She ran one more test, one that did not come back normal, and she gave me a strategy to repair what’s wrong with my body. I have a long way to go, but I feel like I am finally on the right track.

We know our bodies best. We need to remember that.

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