Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Missing Puzzle Piece - Adrenal Fatigue

 Nurse Alanah - School Career Day!

I am now well into my ninth month of aggressive antibiotic Lyme treatment.  I have seen significant progress in the eradication of many of my Lyme related symptoms.  Night sweats, muscle twitching, air hunger, memory loss/forgetfulness, joint stability and overall strength have improved.  It seems we are winning the battle against these intruders!  
So it has been very puzzling why I am not regaining endurance and stamina.  I am constantly exhausted, fatiguing quickly, still suffering with insomnia and non-restorative sleep and have also been dealing with dizziness, a feeling of being constantly wired but tired, heart palpitations, very cold hands and feet, below normal body temperature, consistently low blood pressure and incessant hunger (I MUST eat every 1-2hrs).  We were determined at our last LLMD appointment in Plattsburgh to address these lingering issues that I was becoming more and more convinced were not specifically Lyme related.

Dr McShane ordered a salivary cortisol test and thyroid bloodwork to determine if my adrenal function is compromised.  We are awaiting the cortisol test results yet but the bloodwork showed that I have hypothyroidism - apparently stemming from my pituitary gland.  In this case, hypothyroidism would be secondary to Lyme Disease, and caused by the disease itself, as well as the effects of treatment and constant physical and mental stress.  My adrenal function has crashed - triggering a condition called adrenal fatigue.  My body has been functioning in a state of constant high alert for the past four years and is no longer able to produce the amount of energy needed to repair itself or sustain even basic daily function.  

Looking back at my treatment this past year, I noticed that I regained function very quickly when the antibiotics began killing the Lyme bacteria.  My energy and function returned at a rapid rate initially.  Unfortunately, as the doctor continued to add medications and supplements, my body was unable to process the sheer load of medications, supplements, dietary changes, strict daily routines and stress of treatment both physically and mentally and I began going downhill.  In alarm, my Lyme doctor at that time (Dr P.) responded by adding more supplements and medications, changing my treatment protocol weekly and creating further stress on my poor immune system which (understandably) can only handle so much.  My body responded with periods of crashes and recoveries (a familiar pattern for me these past few years) until I reached this point of adrenal fatigue from which my system seems unable to recover.  

These past few weeks have been difficult - trying to decide whether or not to stop or slow treatment.  The pros? My body will appreciate a rest from the heavy treatment regime and I could focus on rebuilding my immune system.  The risk with stopping treatment? Because my immune system is so compromised it will not be able to fight against the remaining Lyme bacteria, and they will have an opportunity to reproduce while my body is weak.  Somehow we need to regain my adrenal function and rebuild my immune system while continuing to keep the Lyme bacteria at bay. 

Our new plan: Rest, recover, repair immune function with natural therapies, supplements, decreasing stress load on my body and brain and if absolutely necessary thyroid medication temporarily.   The balance between giving my body the tools to repair itself and not causing it to overstimulate beyond it's ability to recover is a very delicate one.  I have just begun working with a specialist in adrenal fatigue (Dr Lam - drlam.com) to tailor a program that will slowly work to rebuild my immune system one slow and delicate step at a time.  This will take many months to accomplish but the good news is it is possible!  Once my adrenal function is regained, my immune system rebuilt and some strength and stamina have returned, we will work towards decreasing my antibiotic load with the intent that my immune system will be strong enough to keep the Lyme bacteria from reproducing.  At this point I should be able to return to a new normal level of functioning, which will be adequate for daily life but will probably not involve extreme or team sports...  I will always need to pace myself, a concept that I very much struggle with but am realizing is necessary if I am to ever have hope of a complete recovery.

With my Type A personality *wink* I love to follow a plan so for me working with two protocols (Lyme and Adrenal Fatigue) is much more manageable than pushing through without clear direction or guidelines and knowing that a mysterious missing puzzle piece is holding me back from recovery.....  Lyme Disease - multi-systemic and multi-complicated! 

A puzzle for you: Are Type B personality types susceptible to contract Lyme or suffer from Adrenal fatigue?  One person's character strength may be the very source of struggle for another... hmmm...
...A very special Valentines Day! xox


  1. Alanah suits being a nurse! We are praying that this is all well and truly sorted by the time she is that age thought! :) Love you lots Roze. Praying that your new treatment will help you get your immune system and adrenal fatigue sorted soon so that you can get back onto the right road to recovery and a healthier life. Love Heidz

  2. Thanks for this update Roze.... I just can't wait to get on that plane again! Love ya heaps. Ma

  3. The Type A thing is a really interesting puzzle - I've often wondered about this myself. I do feel that it's people prone to perfectionism, or towards self-validation through achievement (being able to do everything on one's to-do list, and/or having that kind of "drive" to have to do as many things as possible!) that are more vulnerable in this regard. I think it's because it's harder to take time out, and listen to our bodies, because we see a lessening in achievement, or a lessening in the ability to maintain the various types of perfection we pursue, as a sign of weakness? And obviously with something as severe as adrenal dysfunction, pushing through fatigue only compounds the problem. At some point, the adrenals fail to bounce back, and that's when the situation really becomes chronic. Which brings me to the mental dimension; speaking personally, as someone who had undiagnosed adrenal fatigue for at least a decade, I found it very challenging to cope with the psychological aspects. How do you not implode from frustration and from judging yourself and your body/mind for its failings!!! - How do you find self-worth when none of the things you thought were worth doing are possible? - How do you deal with failure to complete something, or to have energy for something you really want to do, yet again? - How do you get rid of the feeling that you are totally squandering the gifts you have been given, and the guilt that you are often unable to maintain your (God-given) responsibilities? - How can you even begin to explain what is happening to other people? - Is it even worth bothering? ... These are things I struggled, and struggle, with. I'm not sure if it's just our historical moment, because maintaining an image has always been part and parcel of societal interactions, but it seems to me that today's media culture does exacerbate the problem. It's easy for technologies such as Facebook to become self-promotion sites, where we convince others (and ourselves) that we are living the dream life, that we are constantly "photo worthy", "media worthy" images of perfection. So when things are less wonderful than a TV commercial it's perhaps easier to feel a failure? - Just some thoughts ... But truly it's a blessing to admit to weakness, and to receive strength and love from God's hands through prayer and meditation, and through the tangible hands of the people around us. It is, after all, in these difficult spiritual questions that we live "real" life. The more I struggle with weakness, the more amazed I am that God willingly submitted to weakness; that what we consider "weakness" and "strength" are totally irrelevant in spiritual terms. Anyway, all the very best, from Janelle T! (my sister posted a link to your blog on Facebook - which is how I ended up here :) )