Saturday, October 6, 2012


It's been a long few weeks.  I'm still in Physical therapy 2-3 times a week. Resting a lot. And pretty much... it's been depressing. I want to be up and doing things, but at the same time it doesn't matter, because I just can't make myself do it. 

Dr. Klug has my blood work results, so I drove over an hour into Kansas to go over it. 

Basically my thyroid seems to be functioning just fine. I was happy, perplexed, and shocked all at the same time. How could that be if I have every symptom of hypothyroidism?  Dr. Klug said she can't figure it out ... she was sure I had a severe thyroid problem.  Well... good news, I suppose. 

Moving on... I'm not anemic. My cholesterol is 215, but that's only up 15 points in the last 11 years, and it's considered very good considering my family's history with it (I have a brother whose cholesterol was 900!), so I'm not too worried about it. There were a few other numbers that were higher than they should be, but she says it's due to pain, which in turn makes these numbers rise, so she's not going worry about it other than to say it should top priority to get my pain eliminated. Sounds good to me. 

So here's what Dr. Klug did find out:

:::Drum roll:::

I have Adrenal Exhaustion!   Also known as "your body is completely wiped out"

 Now, I did ask a doctor or two to check for this, but I got the same usual answer:  ::patronizing smile:: You don't need that. You're young. You just need to not eat so much and exercise a lot more.   Psssh. Hey, buddy, if I can weather several pregnancies, attend and graduate college, move my family four times AND take care of my kids who are very needy (medically speaking), all while feeling like a truck ran over me, backed up, and ran over me again, then I am pretty sure I'm much stronger of a person than you'll ever be. So shut it.  <end rant>

I actually cried when she told me the diagnosis. I didn't sob or anything like that, but I definitely needed a tissue. I said "you wouldn't believe how many people have told me to "just stop eating" or "if you would just exercise" or commenting on my mood, or being tired, or..., or..., or. She said "Yes, those things don't work for you because you're body thinks you're about to die, or course you can't do those things!" 

If you read the link about then you know a bit about what your adrenals do. Mine are function at 1.7 which is about 2% of what they should be.  Dr. Klug said "no wonder you are so tired all of the time! according to your adrenals, you're nearly dead!" She says my body is starting to shut down because of the low numbers. Not shutting down in the sense that I'm dying, but that my body just can't handle stress and activity like it should. 

She asked why I all of sudden felt worse than usual. After talking things over, she believes it was the move that drove me of the edge, so to speak.  I did move everything (except for my kitchen...a friend helped with that) boxed, packed, unloaded, unpacked, all of it, on my own. Tom had a series of trips out of town, and I really wanted to surprise him with an intact house we he finally came back home. 
I suppose she's right, because that was just about the time the blog really started to suffer--I was just too tired--when my pain became worse, the depression set in...blah blah blah.

So I asked her "what do I need to do in order to get better?" 

She said I have to sleep. A lot. (that sounds good to me!) 

I have to find the stressors and eliminate them out of my life. (Easier said than done, I suppose, but I'll try.)

I have to eat well. Drink a lot of water. (Can do.)

I have to learn to listen to my body. So if I'm out running errands and realize I feel tired, I have to go home and sleep. 

I can't be a "list person" (some would say "Type A") anymore. I have to choose one or two small goals for the day and don't go beyond that.  (Booooooo!)

I'll be taking a handful of supplements. One of which is a steroid, it's not a strong one like Prednisone, but one your body already makes naturally and in very low levels. (I can't remember what it's called. Darn it.)

 Anyway, the idea is that it gives your adrenals a rest, which means they can rest up enough to start working on their own someday.

"Sooo, how long should this process take?" I ask. 

"It really just depends on how much sleep/rest you get, and how well you follow the supplement schedule. But I'd say it could be anywhere from 6 to 18 or 24 months."

Do what now?!  6 months... okay, fine. But 1-2 years of just sleeping and quiet/low stress level chores?? Ewww. I am not excited about this at all.  Of course part of me wants to write the doctors who said "no" to me, and say "I'd be all better by now if you had just run the test!" but I suppose that wouldn't be very Christ-like.  Oh well, between Dr. Klug and Dr. Rob, I'm sure I'll be doing much better by this time next year. 

I have a lot of research to do on this. The cure for Adrenal Exhaustion is totally not who I am and I still can't quite get my head around it.

 The saddest part for me is that I am going to have to put Elizabeth is daycare/homecare. I've never had any of my kids in daycare or preschools. I personally believe kids should be with their mothers for the first five (if not longer... depending on the child) years of their life. Of course, there are always exception to the rule.  I have a meeting with a couple who runs a daycare out of their home. They don't have kids watch TV or movies (except on Friday mornings when it's Movie Mornings), they are fans of Love and Logic when it comes to discipline, they obviously love children, and they have a very structured, but still fun schedule. And for the last few months Elizabeth has demanded so much attention that I just can't keep up with her. Last week she told me she needs a backpack because she wants to go to school. It made me chuckle when she found an old one, and then stepped into the van saying "I go skholl!" So, who knows, maybe she will be overall more happy at this place a few times a week. 

I guess some of the good news is that once I recover from this, and getting the progesterone supplement adjusted, Dr. Klug thinks I should go on to have normal pregnancies. She says those who suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum typically have it because the body is too low on progesterone (but not low enough to cause a miscarriage) and also the Adrenal Fatigue because it is too much of a stressor.  So good news, I suppose.

I asked about losing weight and why it just suddenly stopped even when I was eating very well. She said because stress put on the body to lose weight is such that the adrenals just wouldn't allow the process to go forward. I told her I've gained 10 lbs just by sitting in bed (thanks to these muscle issues) and I couldn't understand it since I've had very little appetite. She says "Yes, that's common. That is how much your body is in "conservation mode" It really believes you are starving and in grave danger so it will absolutely store anything you eat and not burn it.

So my orders for now are to go to bed as soon as I'm tired. Do not set an alarm and sleep as late as possible. Do one or two small chores. Get a nap. Eat well. And let go of stress. 

I have to figure out a way for food to fit in to our lives in a way that doesn't require me to be on my feet all day, and doesn't drive Tom batty.  I am going to confess that last week we went to Sam's Club and stocked up on a lot of meats that are ready to be popped into the oven. Tom has had to take over pretty much the whole house, the kids, AND work, so food has been a big hurdle. I ended up buying some cereal (with coconut milk) for the kids. Given all the allergies breakfast has become nearly impossible to navigate without it taking an hour or two. 

She says I may have one or two other underlying conditions, but we can't get to those until I get my adrenals better. 

So if you are of the religious type please consider offering a few prayers for me and my family. It's going to be a pretty big adjustment on everyone.


  1. I'm sorry you've got what seems to be a pretty common problem in our society. I like the sound of the cure, and I may have to practice some of that myself!

    FWIW, I'm sure you know the crockpot is your friend. Also, I love my new ipad app: Nom Nom Paleo. if you don't have an ipad, just read her blog. Her meals are very simple and I absolutely love everything we've made from the app! I'll say a few prayers for you, too!

    God bless.

  2. Oh sorry to hear this. My best friend went through this after seeing so many doctors and natural-paths, It's a tough road. Take care of yourself!

  3. answers are beautiful. wonder if sleeping for 6-12 months will make the time pass faster or slower? :) anyway, i'm so glad you have a health practitioner who is listening to you. amazing your thyroid function is great - considering it usually goes hand in hand with adrenal fatigue. check out cheeseslave's blog, I think she also had to deal with adrenal stuff and she probably has some info on there about it. It might interest you to check out Matt Stone, he has some pretty interesting thoughts on the topic and RRARF sounds right up your alley. The best thing about RRARF is that you don't really worry too much about macronutrient ratios. There are a couple things you look to steer clear of or keep low (like omega 6 fats) but overall you just eat a lot of good (natural, real) food of any type. Anyway it might be a good fit for you and especially to let go of the stress of trying to manage a paleo diet while basically on bedrest.

    hugs and prayers!

  4. Did she do urine or blood or saliva testing? I'd strongly encourage getting a second opinion before subjecting yourself to steriod treatment. I was on them for 18 months for "adrenal fatigue" as prescribed by my PCP. I never felt any better and I gained 40 lbs :( I finally met with a leading endocrinologist who said that's the new "go to" diagnosis for docs now when thyroid tests are normal but the patient still complains of symptoms. The steriods wrecked my immune system and my gut health and it's taken me years of strict paleo and exercise to lose the weight and moon face (I still have some of it)...all that from a low dose of cortisol daily.

  5. I guess looking at the big picture, you are further along than you were this time a month ago, so that's good. I, and I'm sure many of the other faithful followers of your blog, hope this works for you. We'll look forward to your next update.

    Sarah Faith's point is an interesting one. Sleeping should theoretically make time go by faster...right?

  6. I'm so sorry, Heather! And yes, Josh is right. We really hope this works for you.

  7. You are one Amazing lady, sorry to hear of all your going through, but I appreciate your candid approach that the road to recovery is not always a path of roses.

    ........ no matter what I'm sure the rest would do anyone good and something good has to come of it. Thinking of you and your family.

  8. Prayers are definitely with you! I can really understand - I had my thyroid removed this year (cancer) and have just been told I'm suffering adrenal fatigue. It's not as bad as yours, though, so I'm managing it with adaptogenic herbs, nutrient-dense food, and plenty of sleep (in theory - being a mom means that's not always possible, as you know). I'm a Type A personality too, so I understand your frustration at having to deliberately scale things back!

    Re the thyroid issue - what tests did the doctor do? I'm not an expert, but I'm led to believe that sometimes the issue isn't that the thyroid is underproducing, but that not enough of the hormone is being converted into usable form. Did they test your reverse T3 (I think that's what the converted form is called)?

    Anyway, really glad that you've got an action plan now, even if it's not what you might have hoped for. Don't give up on eating well - that seems counterproductive! Cook in bulk whenever you're feeling up to it, and live on or freeze the leftovers. You can do this! Take care!

  9. Dear Heather, We met briefly when you were sitting with Tom selling books at Nullify Now in Philadelphia last spring. I'm so sorry you've had to go through so much difficulty. My heart goes out to you. It is very hard at times to take care of ourselves. I'm not a religious type, yet not averse to saying a prayer. I'll keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. All the best to you, Gretchen

  10. I know this comment is late in the chain but I can't always keep up with your blog on a day to day basis, but have you researched your leptin levels?

    Lots of new research and info out there:

    Do you pray the rosary every day with your husband? I know it is difficult with kids, but it is a great method of calming the type A in you. Set aside some time in the morning before the kids are up or in the evening after they are asleep or during the day when they are busy and calm yourself by contemplation. It can actually work miracles.

    Also, you may think that paying someone to help with childcare is out of the question but many busy moms that I have known were able to extend room and board to single women with a child in exchange for limited childcare/housekeeping duties. If you need help in one area while you regain health, perhaps you can help someone who is healthy but needs safe shelter for her and her own child.
    I know this sort of arrangement cannot be forced but I suggest because you may know someone that could work out for you.

    Will keep you all in our prayers here as well.

  11. Praying for you here! I went through a lot of the same thing last year after another move. Many kids (7) plus many moves equals way too much stress for a body to handle, especially if you are the do it yourself kind of person/family. So, get some help! Sleep (it really does help). I took dessicated adrenal supplements instead of prescription meds and they helped a lot. Don't be surprised if you end up with thyroid issues once the adrenal stuff is better. Your thyroid is working overtime right now to compensate for the adrenal malfunction. I'm still figuring this all out myself, at least you have a doctor that recognizes the adrenal problem. That is a blessing! Sleep well!