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What Causes Me to go into Adrenal Crisis

The last two weeks I’ve had a good run. I was tired and fatigued as usual but I managed to have a week without headaches and feeling dizzy and sick. I’m grateful this was Christmas week and that I managed to get to my daughter’s Nativity and have a nice Christmas, however my Hypo-adrenal symptoms are back and I feel so ill once again.

I’m back to laying in bed and feeling like crap. I could sense my BP dropping last night and so this morning I managed to get an emergency appointment with my GP.

Having Adrenal Insufficiency, any added stress on the body will use up my “Cortisol” more quickly than usual. When this happens, I need to take extra cortisol, top up or double dose. The thing is, there is no way of knowing how low in cortisol you are on the spot, (like a diabetic can test sugar) and I have to go by how I feel.

Also, I have to try with the Doctor to figure out what is causing me to get unwell so we can treat the underlying problem affecting my Adrenal Insufficiency which is a life threatening illness and can lead to death. It’s true. Last week an online friend with my condition was complaining of an infection and saying the hospital were sending her home. The next day I found out she had died. Adrenal Insufficiency takes lives and so I have to be very careful. This is in part why we came to live where we do, ten minutes away from the Accident and Emergency- a place I frequent most months.

Underlying issues which cause my Cortisol to drop low are infections and fever and for me periods. I often find myself getting regular skin infections due to my steroid use. I’m dependent on steroids to stay alive, however, they also affect the quality of my skin and my immune system and I get regular infections.

Whenever I get these infections, I am ironically given steroid cream to help get rid of them. This is a regular issue for me and something I never had to deal with before my diagnosis.

I’ve had sudden adrenal crisis in the past when I’ve been in shock. I was in a supermarket and someone crashed their trolley into me. I suddenly dropped to the ground. Sudden surprises and shocks can knock my cortisol out of me and make me drop to the ground. I have an emergency injection for sudden unexpected crisis.

Earlier this year my daughter stood on a nail. I was not stressed, we took her to the hospital and all was calm, however during the Journey, Sylvia went into shock. She went pale and dizzy and naturally this caused my adrenaline to pump (as it would in any mother). When we arrived at the A&E I was standing at reception when I lost my ability to speak and collapsed. Another Adrenal Crisis starting due to sudden stress.

The biggest issue I have however and the one thing which has out me in hospital and made me the most unwell has been having a period. My first Endo said periods don’t put the body under stress to the point they affect Cortisol, however he was very wrong.

Every single time I’ve had a period since 2013, I’ve had an adrenal crisis and gone to A and E or been admitted to hospital. The Endocrinologist finally recognised that for me a period is a dangerous thing. My Last period lasted 13 weeks and made me very unwell. I saw a gynaecologist and it was agreed that I needed a inter uterine coil – which will stop me from getting pregnant (as I’m not well enough for a baby) and will after 3-6 months potentially stop my periods.

Last month a specialist at the hospital performed a biopsy (for another reason) and at the same time inserted a coil to start the process of stopping my periods. It wasn’t something I wanted but something that I know is best for me to help stabilise my health more. Unfortunately the procedure resulted in me going into an adrenal crisis (due to severe sudden pain) and I was rushed from the gynae suit to the Emergency department. I was given a lot of extra cortisol and within a few hours I was feeling much better.

So 16 days ago, I had a new period. Clearly the coil has not started working yet, I have to wait 6 months and based on my strange cycle history this period could last another 3 months. I managed to get through the first two weeks okay but this week things got really painful and heavy and last night it affected my Cortisol levels. I began to feel the usual hypo adrenal symptoms.

So today my husband took me to my GP in the wheelchair. My Doctor ruled out colds and infections and took my BP. My Blood pressure was on the low side and almost at the point where I usually go to A and E. I did a urine sample to rule out bladder infection and tomorrow I’ll be having a blood test to check for further infection. This has to be done so we can rule out possibilities.

We concluded that it must again be my period and I was told to keep double dosing and if my Blood Pressure Drops further to go to the Hospital. So for now I’m back to laying in bed feeling unwell, dizzy and sick. I’m on Iron tablets and will be drinking plenty of fluids and eating some good sources of Iron and I will just have to ride this out however long it takes.

Eventually I wont have periods once the hormones in the coil start to work and then one of the major causes of my adrenal hypos will be on hold.

The longer I am unwell, the more I recognise my symptoms and know what is wrong. However due to being ill so often it can be hard to work things out. I’ll always feel exhausted and tired as my steroid tablets don’t mimic the cortisol levels the way an adrenal pump does. However the less underlying issues, the more chance of making my Adrenal Insufficiency more stable.

They say that the longer you have AI, the easier it is to manage and work out when symptoms get worse. It will never be a simple condition but the more I can do to reduce added stresses on the body and work out whats going on when I am extra unwell more than my usual sickness, the better for me and the greater chance of staying out of hospital.