The night started out routine enough. My younger brother had a band concert at our school that our whole family attended. After the concert, we went out with a couple of families for gelato and fellowship. I remember speaking to a mom who had two sons attending the university that my friend and I were thinking about attending.
As the night wore on, the conversation wrapped up. We gathered our things (and family members) and began our thirty minute commute back to the house.
Once back home, I began to get ready for bed. My mom was recently on a tea kick, touting all of its health benefits. She had many flavors, including the decaffeinated ones that were specifically for night time. I brewed a bag and then went to bed.
That evening I could not sleep! I felt so nauseated. I kept tossing and turning thinking if only I would vomit I could feel so much better! Unfortunately, I associated the sick feeling with the last thing I had: that cup of tea.
Around midnight, I finally vomited. I was initially relieved. Ok, I thought, now I will feel better. I got the tea out of my system. I can sleep now.
Except, that didn’t happen. As the night wore on, my vomiting became more and more frequent. By 6am, I was throwing up stomach acid every 15 minutes. My mom decided I needed medical intervention. Off to the emergency room!
My mom dropped me off at the front door so that she could park the car. I’m not exactly sure how I made it into that waiting room. My sight was going in and out of focus and I was blacking out regularly.
I remember the front desk lady asking for my name and date of birth. Confused and overwhelmed, I just started sobbing. I didn’t know how old I was. I didn’t remember my name. There were three minutes until I would start vomiting again. Thankfully, my mom had returned to find me in a state of extreme confusion and very dizzy. She at least knew my name and could fill out the paperwork for me.
Still, there was no sense of urgency from the staff, not even after my mom stressed that I suffered from Primary Adrenal Insufficiency. The male nurse called my mom and I into a side room to fill out some more paperwork.
“How much do you weigh?”
“What?” I muttered through tears.
“HOW much do YOU weigh?!”
“I don’t know…” I was sobbing again, unable to focus on anything in the room.
“Ma’am, I’ll need you to step on this scale.”
“… mom …” I faintly muttered. I practically had to be carried over to that triage room. There was no way I could step on that scale.
My mom was growing frustrated. She looked at her watch. “You have about a minute until she…” Right on cue I began to vomit on the rude male nurse. That finally got his attention.
“Uh… guess?!” My mom randomly shouted out a number as he tried to move me into a room.
I have no idea how much time elapsed from when I first entered the waiting room to when I was finally admitted into my own room. But I do know it was too long.
I also don’t remember how long I was in the ER. If my memory serves me correctly, I want to say it was more than five hours. Once they finally took my adrenal crisis seriously, the hooked me up to an IV and started fluids with extra cortisol. I remember my actual nurse was a kind woman that came in to check on me often.
“I can see you are feeling much better Miss Amber.”
“When you first came into see me, you were as white as those sheets you are sleeping on! Now look at you! The color is returning to your face!”
After a couple more hours of observation, fluids, and rest, I was released. I associated that ER trip with the tea. I refused to drink tea for five years after that trip.
The Lessons Learned
This was also the first ER trip after my diagnosis. My mom and I were still learning how to handle it. Honestly, I should have gone to the ER after I vomited unexplained for the first time. We should not have let my situation worsen for another six hours before seeking treatment.
We should have also been more vocal in the ER. My Addison’s Disease was throwing me into an Addisonian Crisis. I was extremely weak, mentally confused, dizzy, vomiting, and unbelievably cold. They treated me as an average seventeen year old with a stomach bug. I had to vomit on the rude male nurse before I was taken seriously.
In the end, I recovered. I returned home, exhausted, but alive. Also, I have finally worked up the courage to try tea again.