Let us talk about weight gain and adrenal insufficiency. I want to start out by stating that for most of my life, I was the skinny girl.
I thought it was normal to be able to see my ribs. If we are doing honest confessions, I thought a sunken in collar bone meant I was attractive. Before “thigh gap” was even a disgusting thing, I assumed my thighs were supposed to be as thick as my ankles and my biceps were supposed to be as thick as my wrists.
This was my normal, but it was not a healthy normal. My perception of reality was skewed.
After Starting Treatment
Before I was diagnosed, I was clinically underweight with an unhealthy BMI of less than 18. After starting treatment, I gained weight practically overnight. That rocked my teenage world.
I went from wearing size zeros to have to constantly buy larger clothes. This caused me to hate that bathroom scale. I hated seeing the number it showed. That number seemed huge to me, and I cried every time I saw it.
I learned quickly that I had to repeat to myself how I would rather be alive and healthy than a walking skeleton slowly dying.
The scale does not tell the whole story.
I was gaining muscle. This muscle was making me healthy. Although a BMI of less than 18 made for a pretty small number on the scale, it was not healthy.
Ineffective Medicine Caused More Weight Gain
In 2008, I was switched to Qualitest. Suddenly, my medicine seemed to stop working. Endo #1 was beyond baffled so he just kept increasing my dose of HC. I gained an inappropriate appetite, and with that, I gained even more weight.
I was clinically overweight.
Steroids are a very interesting and powerful medicine. There is a strong misconception that steroids instantly cause weight gain. That is a gross simplification of a very complex issue. If you are on the proper dose of steroids that closely mimics the circadian rhythm, you should be able to maintain a healthy weight.
The first weight I gained on Cortef made me healthy. The weight gain on Qualitest were due to an ineffective medicine given in the wrong amount at the wrong time.
Unexpected and Unhealthy Weight Loss
My health began to slowly decline again in 2011. Weight started dropping off, but I didn’t really notice it at first. Eventually, friends began to ask me about my change in weight.
I decided to step back on that cruel scale and see what it told me. I was shocked when I realized that I was dropping weight! But I could not explain the weight loss, which made me nervous.
I started working at my engineering job August 2012 with limited work clothes. I am not a fan of shopping. The loud noises, the crowds, the act of putting clothes on just to take clothes off, the stupidity of how female clothing is sized- these are all extreme cortisol utilizers for me. I normally end up feeling very drained and sick after every shopping trip.
But I needed clothes to wear to work. My aunt visited me for my birthday in October 2012. When she learned about my severe lack of work pants, she took me shopping and bought me six pairs.
That shopping experience was very overwhelming for me. My aunt asked me what size I wore. I said size twelve. The twelves fell off of me. We went down a size. The tens fell off. We went down another size. The eights fell off. We went down another size. The sixes fell off. But the size fours? The fours fit.
The size fours fit me.
Never was there a time after my diagnosis where I could wear a size four. I was secretly pleased with this discovery. I was back to being the skinny girl. Naive me still thought I was healthy.
I continued to lose weight and pretty soon those size fours were falling off of me as well. My close friends and family were growing concerned. I was, once again, hovering around an unhealthy BMI.
My body finally screamed “ENOUGH” and I experienced the Nightmare of 2013. Slowly, we figured out why the nightmare happened. I made several lifestyle and treatment changes to help re-establish my health. I started to gain weight. It was incredibly difficult for me to look at that scale, but I had to keep repeating to myself, “I am healthy.”
I then added a very dangerous additional sentence to my self talk.
“I am healthy, and guess what? Those size fours still fit! It is ok that I am gaining weight because my size four work pants still fit.”
A Healthy Reality
I am now several pounds heavier than I was. I can no longer pretend that those size fours pants fit me. In reality, none of my work pants fit comfortably. I cannot tell you how many tears have been shed over this revelation, but I can say there have been quite a few.
This weight gain is GOOD. I am blacking out less. My blood pressure has stabilized. My fatigue has lessened. These are all good signs!
I got rid of those size four work pants. I purchased larger clothes. While this was an incredibly hard thing to admit, I should not view it as a negative. This was physical proof that I am in a much healthier state. My self-talk needs to constantly reflect that.
It is better to wear a larger size and be ALIVE.
I want to remain Clearly Alive.