Adventures in Adrenal Fatigue

So remember a few months ago when I went to a witch doctor nutritionist who told me my adrenals were out of whack but then my real doctor told me I was a-ok even though I still felt awful? Well, get this – I found a real actual doctor who finally listened to me, ordered some more thorough testing, diagnosed me and is TREATING me. It’s a miracle!

I have really, really low levels of cortisol – a condition known as adrenal fatigue.

Here’s the deal. From

Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress, it can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia.

Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc with your life. In the more serious cases, the activity of the adrenal glands is so diminished that you may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours per day. With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive. Many other alterations take place at the biochemical and cellular levels in response to and to compensate for the decrease in adrenal hormones that occurs with adrenal fatigue. Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price.

Dr. Almost-Cousin Mackenzie, stop rolling your eyes!

Adrenal Fatigue is kind of like what fibromyalgia once was – seemingly random symptoms that many doctors generally wrote off. My doctor buys it, though, and she prescribed Cortef (hydrocortisone) for me. I’ve been on it for about six weeks, and I feel so much better. In fact, before my grandpa died, I was feeling so amazing that I was ready to ask my doc if I could try going off my anti-depressant – that is huge for me. The stress of the last couple weeks, though, has set me back somewhat, but I still feel way better than I did before.

So even if it’s all hocus-pocus, it seems to be working for me.

I guess what I want to get across is this.

A few months ago, I felt awful. AWFUL. I was depressed and exhausted. Despite working out more than ever (training to walk 60 miles in three days), I had gained 20 pounds in four months. I knew something was wrong with me, but my family doctor and then an endocrinologist both told me I was totally fine. I left the endo’s office and sobbed in the parking lot. I sent my friend a text message that said “I just left the endocrinologist, and even though I have lots more nodules on my thyroid than I did last time, my thyroid is fine, it’s all in my head. I have two kids and a job and should become comfortable with feeling like shit. I am fat because I am lazy and eat too %*&$ing much. So there’s that.”

I felt incredibly defeated. I felt stupid.

Fortunately, a month or so later, I had an appointment with a new doctor who actually heard what I was saying. She ran one more test, one that did not come back normal, and she gave me a strategy to repair what’s wrong with my body. I have a long way to go, but I feel like I am finally on the right track.

We know our bodies best. We need to remember that.

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  1. I think I might need to go see your new doctor! So glad you found someone and something that is working for you! And I think someone else owes the witch doctor an apology!

  2. Way to go. So glad you found a doctor that listened and figured things out. I disagreed with a doctor once and she said, “Isn’t your degree in mathematics. I said yes but I also have a PhD in Charlie Brads and that medicine makes me sick. I am not willing to quit living just to stay alive.” Different medicine really helped.

  3. What great news!!!

  4. Kelly King says:

    Are you allowed to say what doctor you are seeing? I have been following your difficulties because I have the exact same thing happening to me. My family doctor just keeps giving me other things to try to counteract the depression and fatigue. I just know there has to be something else going on. Even if you would email me your doctor’s name that would be great! Thanks for your update!

    • Just emailed you!

      • Can you also email me? I have thyroid issues and I am betting adrenal issues and have seen 8 – 10 docs! Annoyed is an understatement when they tell me it is all in my head. Thank you! Praying you still feel better!

  5. That is so great. Good for you for continuing to get opinions. It’s so hard when a doctor tells you you’re fine when you don’t feel “fine”. I’m glad you’re back on track and feeling better.

  6. I love hearing this. Love hearing that you found a doctor that listens. My doctor, when I told her that I didn’t feel like myself anymore, angry at a drop of a hate and so tired just told me to get more excerise and welcome to my thirties. I felt awful beeing told that. Makes me want to try a new doctor. Especially since I turn 40 this year. I have been dealing with this for too long!

  7. Good for you! I’m glad you found a doctor that listened to you. And even more glad that you’re feeling better!

  8. Dr. Almost-Cousin Mackenzie says:

    I’m so glad you feel better! I didn’t roll my eyes once, I swear! Like fibromyalgia, adrenal insufficiency is a syndrome of collective symptoms that we can’t always confirm. Doctors have a bad habit of not believing in things they cannot clearly define. The problem with that way of thinking, is that God read no text books before he made people and some of us were made with some design flaws. When I get stumped, my favorite question is “What do you(the patient) think is wrong?”.

  9. I am glad you are getting some answers and help. I spent 9 years and a ton of money trying to figure out why my face hurt all the time, and why I had headaches for 57 days at at time (non-stop- yes, I was bitchy!), and finally, I found someone who didn’t say, “______________insert line of mumbo jumbo here”.

    I agree with Charlie, my PhD is in ME, but I’d sooner have root canal than do math!



  10. …oh, yes, and you’re my favorite niece in law once removed.



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