The problem with an adrenal crisis is the fact that no one can tell you how long it will take to recover. Each one is different. You don’t want to live your life in fear, but yet you also do not want to ignore the reality of what just happened. Unfortunately, immediately after my nightmare adrenal crisis, I was in denial.
Two weeks after the nightmare, I drove out to my alma matter for graduation. I carpooled with three other friends so that I wouldn’t be driving alone. I was also still in denial about how weak my crisis had left me. Mind over matter, right?
I enjoyed seeing many people at graduation. They asked me how I was doing so I told them about the nightmare. I had told the story enough times that I no longer cried as I spoke of the details.
It was interesting to watch their reactions. They all had very similar questions. Why did the ER ignore my medical alert bracelet that said “steroid dependent?” Their horror was another reminder about how the public needs to be more educated on Adrenal Insufficiency. I almost lost my life due to lack of awareness.
Cinco de Miler Five Mile Race
Graduation was that Saturday. On Sunday, I had a five mile race back in Dallas. Several of those close to me questioned the wisdom of me running such a race so soon after my hospitalization. I assured them that I was going to be extremely pro-active about my medicine to compensate for the added stress on my body. I did a very similar thing just recently when I wanted to test the limits of my disease.
I ran that five mile race. I even set a new personal record. My time was 44:57 (8:59/mi pace) or over a minute FASTER than when I won 3rd place for a five mile race in February. That race felt so good! For the non-runners of the world, I do not think I’ll ever be able to explain the joy that comes with running and running well.
The Trip to the Mall
After the race, I decided to kill a couple hours at the mall with another friend before her afternoon flight. I wish I could tell you the details of that mall trip but I cannot. My memory is too hazy.
I know at some point I lost my car keys and I lost them good. Mall security found them a couple days later. I had to be rescued by a friend who had access to my spare keys. This was brain fog to the extreme, not a good sign. I also began to get my low cortisol migraine. Another bad sign. I tried to be pro-active and take more steroids to stay on top of it, but it didn’t seem to be working.
A Friend’s Apartment
Somehow, I managed to get my friend to her plane on time. At this point, I was scared. I knew I shouldn’t be alone. I texted a co-worker who I trusted and asked if I could just hang out at his apartment for the night so that someone could keep an eye on me. I did not feel well and I did not want to put myself in another situation where I was alone at the hands of incompetent EMT’s without an advocate. Been there. Done that. Never again.
I honestly do not know how I drove to his apartment. He wasn’t home when I first got there. When he arrived, he found me collapsed outside of his front door, barely able to move. He had to assist me inside.
I was having a hard time seeing things and my migraine was getting progressively worse. I took some more steroids and then collapsed on his couch. It was so difficult to move. After who knows how long, he woke me up and told me to move to the bedroom. He was nervous he was making too much noise in the kitchen and didn’t want to disturb my sleep. I did, and proceeded to pass out on the bed. Then my cell phone rang.
I have no idea how I made it back into the living room to answer that phone call. It was my aunt informing me that they had successfully moved into their apartment down the road.
I couldn’t remain standing, so I grabbed my phone and then collapsed to the floor. This was not good. It was getting harder and harder for me to move and I could not focus on the outside world at all. I decided to just take double my night time meds (We refer to that as a “stress dose”) and call it a night. I don’t even think it was 9pm.
Well, my body decided to vomit every single one of those pills back up.
Inability to hold down medicine? Required to go to the ER.
After I vomited, the shaking set in. It wasn’t the seizures from the nightmare, but I did lose my vision. I had to be escorted down the stairs. I called my aunt and informed her that we were off to the ER. Talk about convenient timing. She moved to my state only a couple hours prior. She was going to meet us at the ER.
At the Emergency Room
This was a completely different hospital network than the one that almost killed me two weeks prior. I will forever boycott that one. But this one started me on IV fluids stat and quickly administered the solu-cortef injection. This ER doctor and nurse were kind and compassionate. They understood my dire need to find a new endocrinologist and gave me a recommendation for my Endo #5. I got in to see her ASAP.
Do I regret running that five mile race? No. I did everything right. I actually had more steroids in my system on that day then I did for my half marathon yet I still could not keep ahead of the impending crisis. My body was screaming out that something was wrong. A five mile race should NOT have sent me to the ER when I was regularly running seven miles.
I am doing so much better now. April through August 2013 were perhaps some of the scariest months in my entire life. But life is full of seasons. I am so thankful that dark season appears to be drawing to a close.
I am Clearly Alive.