“You have Adrenal Insufficiency…”

Four words that would change my life forever….”You have Adrenal Insufficiency…”

Hi, my name is Jen and I have an incurable disease. How’s that for sounding as though I am at a 12 step program meeting? In March of 2016, I was diagnosed with Adrenal Insufficiency, also known as Addison’s Disease. I had no idea how four words would change my life so drastically. But my journey didn’t start there. Let’s back up a bit….

It was New Year’s Eve of 2008. My ex husband and I went to Los Dos with our best friends to celebrate. Before our drinks or food came, I suddenly got a stabbing pain in my stomach and had to run to the restroom so that I didn’t puke all over the table. We left the restaurant and I continued to puke for several hours. The pain was so awful that my ex husband decided to take me to the emergency room, in fear that I had appendicitis. The doctor ran tests, gave me nausea and pain meds, and said “I have no idea what’s wrong with you…” Little did I know that for the next 8 years, I would hear that sentence over and over again. Little did I know that when I woke up on December 31, 2008, that would be the last day I would ever wake up not sick. Little did I know that my life was about to change forever.

The next 8 years of my life were spent in and out of emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, specialists’ offices and more hospital rooms than I can remember. I felt like a human lab rat. Hundreds of tests run, multiple different medications given to me that didn’t work, and doctors that either guessed at a possible diagnosis or simply decided that it was all in my head and I was just drug seeking. I literally felt like I was dying. I constantly had nausea and pain in my stomach. I went through long periods of time where I couldn’t even keep down water. I had uncontrollable anxiety, brain fog, low energy and I kept passing out and not breathing, for no apparent reason. My ex husband left me, the majority of my friends disappeared, my career fell apart and I could barely take care of my kids, let alone myself.

Fast forward to March of 2016. I was admitted into the hospital. This was nothing new to me, as I had come to refer to the hospital as my second home. However, one thing was very new to me….a doctor that refused to let me leave without figuring out what was wrong with me. Her name is Dr. Lam and I honestly don’t believe I would be here today if it were not for her persistence. Unlike all of the other doctors who had treated me in the past, Dr. Lam looked at my records and decided to run tests that were not already run a thousand times before. I was cautiously optimistic for the first time. She decided to discharge me, while waiting for some tests to come back and promised that she would call with the results. And when that call came in, my life would soon be changed.

“You have Adrenal Insufficiency…” Come again?? She started talking about cortisol levels and how I needed to see an Endocrinologist and be placed on corticosteroids right away. It was as though she was speaking to me in another language, yet I was so excited. As she was talking, my brain started to race. Could it be that this is the answer? Will I really be better if I just start taking medications? Will I finally feel normal again? I hung up and called my doctor right away. She had me come in that day and started me on Hydrocortisone. She explained what Adrenal Insufficiency was and gently told me that there was no cure for it and that I would be on corticosteroids for the rest of my life.

I was ecstatic that I was finally diagnosed! If taking a few pills every day would make me feel normal again, sign me up! I gladly had my prescription filled. I told all of my family and friends and everyone who had known how sick I was for years about my new diagnosis. This was it….my prayers had been answered! I had no idea that those four words would change my life forever, and I was about to embark on a whole new journey that I refer to as “My New Normal…”

Author: Jen Hudnall

After over 8 years of being incredibly sick, being told it was all in my head, dragging my kids to the hospital over and over again, I was finally diagnosed with Adrenal Insufficiency, also known as Addison's Disease. I've started this blog to share my journey and to help educate and bring awareness about not only Addison's Disease, but every other rare disease in which case patients are fighting to find a diagnoses to their symptoms.

10 thoughts on ““You have Adrenal Insufficiency…””

  1. Great blog Jen! The new normal, I would say that is a perfect way to describe us with Addisons Disease. Our lives truly will never be the same; such poigniant words.

      1. Oh my gosh, I said those same words. My new normal. And are we fine? Nope. Just varying degrees of craptastic! Feel free to follow me on Facebook, or friend me! I believe there is immense strength in numbers, and together we can make a difference. I was diagnosed with stage 3 metastatic melanoma in Sept 2016. I had a left neck dissection in October 2016 and started on immunotherapy in December of the same yr, even though they took out the whole tumor. The survival rate at 5 yrs with no treatment as told to me by the my oncologist at the time was a mindblowing 17%, and I am at a 40% of recurrence. I recieved 2 doses of the recommended 16 infusions before I became so sick they stopped treatment. Pancreatitis, colitis, rashes and within 6 weeks of that 1st infusion my pituitary gland looked like it was going to explode on the MRI. The medication killed it, and my adrenal glands no longer produce cortisol, I produce no ACTH EITHER! More of that drug would have killed me! They started me on prednisone which I was on for 12 months. I actually had an undiagnosed adrenal crisis in April of last yr the day before my granddaughter was born! I started cortisol pump therapy in Jan of this yr and it has given me that “my new normal” title. Super expensive but I wasnt absorbing the by mouth meds. My insurance company just started paying for it all! I’ve been told “you should start a blog “. I wouldn’t even know where to start! Thank you for sharing your story, and if you got this far, for reading this monstrosity of a comment.

      2. Oh Diana!! What an incredible story!! Thank you for sharing!!! You are a very strong woman!!! I’m so glad you are still with us!!! And you are so right…there are power in numbers and that is why I do what I do! The pump has literally given me my life back!! I’m so glad you are on it as well!!! I will find you on Facebook!!

      3. Hi sweetie, it might be easier for you to find me. There are apparently several Diana Welkers on FB. And I am not sure which one is you… I should be easy to find. Jen Hudnall. 💕

  2. Thanks for sharing your story and I look forward to reading all the other posts here too. My hidden debilitating illness was Cushings disease and my cure was to leave me with Addisons. Apart from that difference in our respective illnesses, our situations were very similar and your story touched my heart by reminding me how much I went through before diagnosis. Once again, thanks for sharing.

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