My Life With Adrenal Insufficiency

The Irony of Rare Illness Day

Rare Illness Day

Sharing is caring!

The Irony of Rare Illness Day

So yesterday was Rare Illness Day, and unfortunately due to my own rare illnesses, I’ve been too unwell to write the posts I hoped to write about having a rare condition, Adrenal Insufficiency and Human Growth Hormone Deficiency.

What is Adrenal Insufficiency?

Adrenal Insufficiency is an when the Adrenal glands fail to function correctly. The Adrenals produce an essential hormone, “the stress hormone” called Cortisol, and without Cortisol, the body would go into crisis and die.

Anyone with Adrenal Insufficiency will be dependent on “daily replacement steroids” to replace the Cortisol which is needed. There are three types of Adrenal Insufficiency, Primary also known as Addisons Disease, Secondary and Tertiary Adrenal Insufficiency.

At the moment I have a diagnosis of Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency. It took a long time to get tot his point, for a year I was told I had Addison’s Disease and then I had a letter stating I had tertiary AI, but 2 1/2 years after collapsing and becoming very unwell I can safely say it is secondary Adrenal Insufficiency.

At the the end of the day, it really does not matter the cause of the AI, Adrenal Insufficiency is rare and uncommon and everyone with AI need replacement steroids to live each day.

Likewise those who are unfortunate enough to have the illness, often suffer with difficult symptoms day in day out. (Some don’t) However through my experience talking to the thousands of people around the world with this condition, I can honestly say that many suffer on a regular basis.

Some Adrenal Insufficients have chronic exhaustion and fatigue, which is most likely due to the constant under and over replacement of steroid medication. We cant replace the body with tablets in the same way the body would – ie the circadian rhythm, so we will always be unwell to some extent.

When placed under extra stress, such as an infection, or a sudden shock, people with AI can begin to experience dangerous Adrenal symptoms which unless treated urgently can lead to an Adrenal Crisis and death.

Since becoming a part of the online community, I’ve had five friends die from Adrenal Insufficiency and many others have been in hospital, A and E, bed or housebound. The text book says replace the body with tablets and an Adrenal insufficient can live a “normal life”. Well that’s not the case for me, nor is it for many of my friends.

A rare condition is one which is not often talked about, one that so few people have that it is not so well know, not as well known as lets say, diabetes or Asthma, yet adrenal Insufficiency is just as and often more fatal.

I live with a life threatening illness every day and without careful management I could easily end up in Hospital having a cardiac arrest. I have to be careful and make sure I take my medication on time. Not only that, I have to double up when I have a infection, yet I don’t always know if I have an infection, and that leads to being very unwell.

I find my condition very difficult to live with. I’ve heard and researched of techniques being used to help improve Adrenal Insufficiency (for example the Adrenal Pump). This enables steroid replacement to more accurately mimic the circadian rhythm. Those people I’ve spoken to who have been fortunate to trial this pump all say that the pump has improved their lives. They are still at risk and still have bad days, but a lot are able to work and live semi normal lives.

I dream of being able to use an adrenal pump. The illness is rare and when illnesses are rare, research comes in slowly and so does funding and pharmaceutical interest. Sadly it’s true. It’s very hard to get the adrenal pump in the UK and around the world.

Many Endocrinologists believe that the adrenal pump should be used only for those who cannot absorb steroids. You have to have tests to see how well your body absorbs your medication. I don’t believe mine works well and maybe due to that I may one day get the pump, however I believe the pump should be available to all people with this rare condition who would like to have it.

Yes it’s expensive but having a regular cortisol level would save so much money and time for example continuous visits to A and E and hospital stays. Quite a few but not every person I’ve spoken to using this pump say it has seriously reduced hospital stays. Medical research carried out in Manchester also concluded that the adrenal pump saved money for those with Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency due to less visits to hospital while using the pump.

Ironically, all too often those of us who would like the chance to get well and improve our rare condition, are often too unwell to fight for this.

Ironically Rare illness day was on the 29th of February, a day that only comes around every four years..which is pretty rare.

So instead of writing all the posts I’d like to write, I will end here and say that  I will keep fighting to try and get my Adrenal Insufficiency better managed, to stay out of hospital and to be able to have the best treatment for my condition.

2016 is my year to try and get the Adrenal pump. I will keep doing what  can as I rest and lay in bed most of the day. I will make calls and visit the GP and wait for my referral to a new Endo in hope that he or she will help me in my pursuit to have a semi normal life once more, not just for me but for my child because……

Rare Illness Affects Families.

Rare illness Affects Parenting

Rare Illness Affects Marriage

Rare Illness Affects Children

Rare Illness is a hard way to live and all too often many people are unaware that it even exists!

One rare disease that I came across a few years ago is mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer. linked to asbestos exposure. There are few effective treatments for this illness.

Sadly I have a family member in Australia who recently passed away from Mesothelioma. Mark, my dad’s cousin was exposed to asbestos in his employment. Mark left behind a wife and two children and the effects of Mesothelioma was awful. He was very very unwell and the cancer sadly took his life in 2017.

There are many rare conditions which affect individuals and families and today it is important to take the time to thin about these and pay a little thought to rare illness, rare illness month and think of those who suffer daily from rare conditions which make life difficult and sometimes take life away.


  1. Such an interesting and inspirational post. I never knew about rare illness day, so you have taught me something. I hope you are keeping OK lovely 🙂

    Gemma xx

  2. I also have Adrenal Insufficiency (Addison’s Disease) along with several other rare diseases. I understand what you are trying to get across but I wanted you to know the full history about Rare Disease Day. It is an annual event put on by Global Genes the last day of February. They are a great organization that’s trying to raise awareness of all the rare diseases. I love your statement about how ironic it is that we are often too sick to fight for what we need. Global Genes is trying to help us so we aren’t fighting our rare disease alone. We may not be able to make changes alone but we can when we join together!! I hope that you have a great 2016 & that your blog continues to inspire people to keep fighting their disease! Here is a link to Global Genes. (I am not affiliated with them) God bless!

    1. Oh thanks for this! I had not heard of Global Genes so thanks for sharing that with me. I know…it’s ironic that we are too ill to promote illness lol. Nice to meet you! Angela

  3. Such an interesting & informative post. I didn’t know there was a rare illness day. I hope that this is your year to get the pump. I can only imagine how frustrating the battle to get one has been, even more so when a lot of it has to do with cost. You can’t put a price on quality of life! It’s a shame the people who hold the purse strings don’t think like that though xx

  4. Such an interesting read. I didn’t know quite what you were living with day to day before reading this, so thank you for being so open about it and raising more awareness of these kinds of rare illnesses.

  5. Great post, I’m glad you were well enough to write it eventually. I’m so sorry to hear about the friends you’ve lost. I hate that lack of treatments comes down to cost 🙁 xx

    1. Thanks. It frustrates me too. I understand the NHS don’t have oodles of money but….. when it would make more financial sense to help me than’s makes me frustrated. Also my life is just as important as that of a child and they give children the pump so why not adults? i’m a mum and have a child who needs her healthy mum! Thats how I feel anyway! Angela xx

  6. Here’s a link to a great support group based in the USA to which I belong. You’ll get great advice from those of us suffering with Adrenal Insufficiency.

    There’s NO reason people should be dying from this disease unless they are undiagnosed.

    Join the group and ask questions. There are members from around the world.

    Best of luck! Remember, you’re not alone in this struggle.

  7. Angela,
    I have Addison’s, too, and I’m sorry to hear that you suffer so because of it! I was much improved once I was diagnosed and treated, but I improved a lot more once I persuaded my doctor to give me a higher dose of hydrocortisone. So often people are under-replaced because doctors stupidly keep you on this low, low, dose, which is barely enough to live on, let alone thrive. I hope you will get the proper meds, care and attention that you need and deserve! Good luck and God bless!


Leave a Response