“Wait, what? I can’t tell if you’re joking or serious.”
“I’m serious. I really do have to take steroids for the rest of my life.”
“But, you don’t look like you’re on roids!”
It’s always interesting seeing how people respond to my medical alert bracelet. I actually use several but they all say something along the lines of “ALERT: Adrenal Insufficiency. Steroid Dependent.”
I am glad I don’t look like I’m on a massive amount of steroids! Overdose of my medicine is NOT fun. Instant weight gain, emotional instability, unmanageable appetite… yeah, if you don’t need this to survive, stay away from it! I have to put up with the negative aspects of them because they really do sustain my life. And if I’m on the correct dose, I need not worry about the negative side effects.
“Wait, are you sick?”
The fact is I do not look diseased. How can I live with this incurable auto-immune disease but look normal? The more astute observers notice me taking pills multiple times a day and never being far from my water bottle or healthy snacks (I still have hypoglycemic episodes).
Sometimes I am plagued with a sudden onset of pain that is hard to mask or ignore. If you manage to catch a glimpse of me at that moment, you can see the pain across my face. A co-worker caught me in one of those moments. He immediately asked me if I was ok. I chuckled and said yes and sadly replied that at times I just get huge pain that happens quickly and fades. I have had it checked out with multiple doctors and they said I was fine. He didn’t believe me and was slightly concerned. He asked me the next day if I was feeling better, which got other co-workers concerned.
“Wait, are you sick?”
“I am the healthiest sick person you will ever meet.”
How should I answer that? Well, yes, of course I’m sick. I will be diseased for life and will never come off my medicine. How about the other extreme? Uh, no, of course I’m not sick. Do I look sick? Of course not, I am perfectly healthy. I seem to love my black and white absolutes. I swing from one extreme to the other. But real life isn’t black and white. I am both sick and healthy, simultaneously.
I won’t lie. Life is more challenging with this darn disease. My stubbornness has carried me through most obstacles, but at times I am reminded that I cannot do everything. I definitely ran out of spoons at 4 pm yesterday and was in bed asleep by 9:30pm. It sucked having to cancel plans and tell people that I could not spend time with them. But life is always about choices. Even a person without Addison’s cannot accomplish everything that they wanted to do every single day.
PS- One week until my half marathon. I haven’t been able to train as regularly as I would have liked so I’m hoping the fact that I could race 9 miles a month ago will allow me to run 13.1 miles in a week. I will be very pro-active about increasing my medicine and I hope my disease behaves. Although I can handle setbacks after triumphs, I would rather have this next story just be a triumph. I’ll be sure to let y’all know how it goes!