I was diagnosed with Addison's disease 3 years ago, by a naturopathic doctor. My symptoms started about 2 years prior to diagnosis, and became increasingly debilitating. I was a very successful career-oriented young woman, living abroad. I lived my life with great passion. Everything I did was to 110%. Slowing down was not in my vocabulary.
These were my most significant symptoms:
drastic weight changes
change in skin pigmentation
insomnia despite debilitating fatigue
I went to several doctors, all of whom said I was depressed. I knew it was more than that so I continued to use every last ounce of energy I had to fight for an answer. Finally, I turned to a naturopathic doctor who knew what was wrong after 15 minutes of actually listening to me. Imagine that. My tests did indeed come back as positive and now I have been living with Addison's for 3 very up and down years.
I have been forced to make major life changes regarding career, relationships and lifestyle. I have had great success on both a hydrocortisone/DHEA compund and Cortef, though I prefer the compound. I also treat my adrenals naturopathically which has greatly improved the fuctionality of my adrenals. Unfortunately, I have gained torturous fibromyalgia and endometriosis pain, along with a wicked case of hypothyroid. Life was a roller coaster at first, but I see my Addison's as a gift. My entire outlook on life has changed and I now know the importance of slowing down and enjoying life. It did not come easily. I was forced to end a relationship with the love of my life, sell my company, and move back to the U.S. I now live in the woods, close to my parents and will probably never work full-time again.
If you are suffering from Addison's, you don't have to. It is possible to learn to live with it. However, if you do not find the root of the cause (there is always a cause), and make the appropriate changes, spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally, it will be an uphill battle to recover or get somewhat better. It took me 2.5 years to find out the reason that I got Addison's. After checking for every auto-immune disease, as well as everything els ein the book, we finally tested for food allergies . The usual test is the IGE test which came back fine, but I had to fight for the less common IGG test (which I am going to have to pay $700 out of poket for). It turned out that I have strong IGG allergies to dairy, eggs ad peanutts, all of which were major parts of my diet. I now eat vegan products (though I am a meat eater). The progress I have made since removing those from diet is unparalelled.
So if you are new to this:
1) Take a deep breath, it will be ok
2) Accept that you will/may have to see several doctors before finding one who gets it and will help you find your way to wellness
3) get a therapist and find out the emotional ties to your condition
4) consider career/relationship changes if necessary
5)FIND THE ROOT and fight to do it. This will be your best bet in improving.
Here is how I treat my condition:
-Hydrocortisone/DHEA (10mg) compound - can be replaced with Cortef and a DHEA supplement if you don't have a compounding pharmacy near you
-Astragalus Root 3 xday
-B-Complex 2x day
-homeopathic tincture 2-4x day
-Multi-vitamin (get one from an ND as they are proven to be easier for your body to absorb)
-Thyrosine (natural treatment for hypothyroid)
-Magnesium Citrate (a miracle for constipation)
-Indian pipe - pain killer (for associated illnesses)
-Kava kava, passionflower glycerite, and Lunesta (if necessary) for sleep
-pulsatilla (homeopathic) for weepiness
-sepia (homeopathic) for emotional outbreaks
-taurine for heart palpitations
-removed dairy, eggs, and peanuts due to IGG allergies
-removed all sugar, preservatives and prepared food for adrenals
-no caffeinated beverages
-when feeling poorly, follow The Schwarzbein Principle diet until 1 week after symptms improve and longer if you can
-as many organic and homemade foods as possible
-long term therapy for stress management and dealing with the life changes associated with Addison's
-neurointegrative therapy (I am a practitioner)
This is the hardest one because the last thing you want to do when you are exhausted is exercise, but it really does help A LOT.
-yoga (ok I hate it but it really does help)
-pilates (not the kind that kills you - just in moderation)
-LONG WALKS in the fresh air (I got a dog which makes me do it - best thing I ever did)
-Naturopathic doctor is my primary for the addison's
-Accupuncture helps A LOT - I go 2 times per month
-Massage (for stress - 1 hour 2-3 times per month)
Anyway, everyone's situation is different. Some will be able to continue working full-time. Others, like me can't, no matter how much I wish I could. If you are uncomfortable with alternative therapies, make it your New Year's resolution to learn a bit about what's out there. You will likely meet resistence from your MD, but you are your best advocate - DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED by MDs who try to tell you that it's a waste. Give it a try for a chunk of time and make that decision on your own. I did, and it changed my life. I also changed MDs and now how a supportive functional doctor. Yippee!
If you have any questions for me, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail.