During my sophomore year of college, a group of us decided to take a road trip from East Texas to Chicago, IL during spring break.
We stayed at my friend’s house in a suburb north of the city. The drive up was uneventful, and we arrived safely.
To give some additional background, the months after I returned from studying abroad in South Korea, I was battling extreme dizziness. Almost every time I stood up, I blacked out. I vividly remember one particular episode where I was working on homework on my dorm room floor (my desk was far to small to spread out all of the papers I required). I stood up and immediately collapsed back to the ground. My body just fell. I was mentally aware the entire time, but I was unable to see anything or move for a couple of seconds. Needless to say, my roommate who witnessed the entire event was concerned. I assured her that this was just my “normal.”
Well during this particular trip, my “normal” dizziness was growing even more concerning. At the prompting of my friend (after we had to take a break due to walking around a grocery store), I finally called endo #2 to ask for his advice. His office staff was always amazing. After spending so much time in appointments during my summer and winter school breaks, I knew that I could call them at any time. The front office lady greeted me and I explained my problem to her. She said she would consult my doctor and then call me back.
The next day, my friends and I headed off to Ikea. I was in denial about how poor I was feeling.
We were in the bedding section when endo #2 returned my called.
“Uh, hi Amber. Your dizziness is particularly concerning to me. You need to go to the ER.”
I sat down on the nearest Ikea bed and started crying. Our Ikea adventure would be cut short and replaced with another type of adventure. As I informed my my friend, she handled the situation absolutely perfectly. She drove us home, made us a quick lunch, forced the guys to pack up their engineering homework, and then we all headed off to the nice ER.
I walked into that ER waiting room and stated that I had Addison’s Disease. I informed them that my endocrinologist sent me here. There were no questions or doubts and I was rapidly taken to triage where they immediately drew blood and inserted a line for the IV. I was then sent back to the waiting room.
Shortly after, I was taken back to a room. All in all, they gave me two liters of saline, a sandwich and some orange juice because my blood sugar was low. I was released after a few hours. And my friends were able to successfully complete their homework in that waiting room.
However, I think the highlight of that ER trip was seeing the confusion of the nurse as she looked over my information.
“Ok, see, my cell phone number is from Arizona. I used to live there. My doctor is in Washington state, because my family lives there now. My mailing address is in Texas, because that’s where I attend school.”
“Ok. But WHY are you in Chicago, Illinois?!!!”
“I’m on Spring Break?”
Living with Addison’s Disease does require a constant adjustment of plans and a level of flexibility that most people cannot fathom. However, I remain determined to never allow this disease to steal my joy in living life.
That ER run was just a small footnote in an amazing spring break adventure.
I am Clearly Alive.