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Posted by Donald on August 25, 2000 at 09:37:17:

I'm a 46 year old male and have had Addison's since June of 97. I was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 1992. It took me 4 docs, 8 months, and a flu induced adrenal crisis to finally get diagnosed. Many thanks to the gastroenterologist who finally referred me to an endocrinologist who figured it out as I walked through the door (skin pigmentation and complaint of nausea).

I'm pretty healthy overall, and so I was difficult to diagnose because, as my docs said, I had fully compensated Addison's. My BP was normal (even if I stood up), my blood work was all excellent, and I was doing better than the average 43 year old. I knew there was something wrong though because of the rapid deterioration of my condition over just one month, especially with my inability to perform strenuous aerobic exercise, which I do weekly. At the time, I appeared quite healthy, but I also felt nauseous after meals and had severe constipation. During the crisis, which I recovered from while still undiagnosed, my blood work was all normal. After the crisis (I lost 18 lbs. in 20 days) the only measurable problem was very high blood ACTH, which was the first test the Endo ran on me (on the day she diagnosed me). Two days later (I was on meds now), she ran the cortisol stim test and that nailed it - primary adrenal insufficiency. With my hypothyroidism, I'm a classic case of Schmidt's Syndrome. I'm now on 88ug synthroid, and 20/15mg of Cortef.

I've come to the conclusion that the biggest problem I face is not Addison's, which is a problem true enough. The bigger problem is accurately identifying health issues that have nothing to do with Addison's. For example, I get a cold, and the symptoms are different. And before, when I'd get a cold, I'd usually reduce the symptoms with OTC meds, but really I'd feel pretty crummy either way. Now, I still feel crummy, but I have to deal with the complexity of treating both the symptoms of a cold and Addison's, and there's lots of interaction between them. I think this goes with all the bad thing that happen to our bodies. Lack of exercise, poor eating habits, viruses, allergies, and getting older will all be much more complex if you also have a chronic illness, such as Addison's or Diabetes.

I don't think it is really possible to know what the right answer is, and I don't think there is 'one' right answer anyway. I do everything I can to reduce the likelihood of getting other diseases or having health problems. I try and eat properly, exercise in moderation, and avoid undue stress, and I still feel crummy some of the time. I try and realize that my body is not something that can be perfected, only improved with good care, and even then its going to give up the ghost eventually. That's normal.

I still love to get out and be active, and I'm ever the optimist that I will get over whatever transient problems that come along. For the most part, I'm able to have a normal life, or at least as normal a life as life can get to be.

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