The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys.
Their function is to work with the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus (within the brain) to produce various hormones. The hormones that are produced include cortisol, corticosterone and epinephrine (to name a few) which are all necessary to control the body's use of fats and carbohydrates; suppress inflammation and support the immune system; regulate blood chemistry, volume and pressure; and help a person cope with physical and emotional stress.
In other words: the hormones produced by the adrenal glands are critical for survival.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the normal range for cortisol is ~9 to 25 mcg/dl. During my hospital stay it was noted that mine were <1.
This variance is what prompted my consultation with an endocrinologist, two days ago. Her first question was why they checked my cortisol levels when I was in the hospital, because apparently - that's not a very common thing to do. Once I provided the intelligent response of "I dunno..." she deduced that they checked my levels based upon my extremely low blood pressure and the fact that a YOUNG (ahem) and healthy woman was in the hospital with a severe case of pneumonia in June.
Then she told me it was a good thing they did check my cortisol levels and put me on the appropriate medication because I very swiftly could have collapsed and died. I'd tossed that very thought around myself because I tend to do that, but something about hearing those actual words from the mouth of a professional shook me up a bit. Ya know?
She added that it's entirely possible that there was a laboratory error and my results were incorrect and the only way she can positively ascertain whether or not I have an adrenal insufficiency (a.k.a., hypoadrenalism; a.k.a., Addison's Disease) is if she completely taper off my Prednisone and check my cortisol levels again once my system has returned to "normal" approximately two weeks from now.
In the meantime, I asked if she would release me to work because I have GUILT that I've been out for four weeks and I miss some of the big projects that I was working on and I know that work misses me and did I mention GUILT? ... and my doctor said, "Absolutely not! Do you understand that you could have a life threatening condition if not properly diagnosed and treated?"
Oh. You're like really serious about that?
Maybe it's a defense mechanism that I have the attention span of a goldfish and tend to forget things almost as soon as they happen. Yes, I know that my doctor told me twice within five minutes how serious this is. Shudder.
Hey, those are nice shoes!
Are they comfortable?
As part of my "diagnosis" I'm completely weaning off my Prednisone while hoping that my low cortisol levels were indeed a lab error and not an indication that I have adrenal insufficiency that might throw me in to addisonian crisis without the proper medication. Charlie knows all the warning signs and has promised that if I wake up gasping, he won't sleep walk in to a wall, again. Sure, that's what he SAYS, but if I don't ever update my blog again, you can just assume he went back to sleep.
I'm kidding. OF COURSE.
I'm also trying my best to look at the bright side of life. So on that note, how awesome is it that this whole health "snafu" happened during summer?! The timing really is impeccable, SO, THANK YOU BODY for at least choosing to fail me when the kids are out of school and the weather is beautiful.
Also, it's really awesome that Henry's birthday was this past week and he received a whole box of assorted Super Hero costumes from Alex and Kathleen.
Best yet ... THEY FIT!