Friday, November 28, 2008

An Adrenal Analogy

I've spent the last week under major adrenal stress (thanks to a strong allergy to something in our house). It's very difficult to explain to someone who has never experienced adrenal problems how awful and frightening it can be.

This week while I was resting, trying to concentrate on breathing and using as little as energy as possible, the Lord gave me an analogy which I think is pretty good. Maybe it will be helpful to those who are fortunate enough to have no clue what adrenal insufficiency is all about.

Simply put, the adrenal glands are like the body's energy generator. No adrenal function = no production of energy = thus no body function. I've been labled with "adrenal insufficiency" or "adrenal fatigue" which basically means my adrenals are barely functioning, thus I have almost no energy in my body. So I only have energy for essential body functions. Things like talking, jumping, running, etc. are now luxuries, not normal life.

Anyway, my analogy is to think of the adrenals like a battery-powered generator. You have to plug it in to a power source at night to recharge it, then run on the battery during the day.

Unfortunately, my 'battery' doesn't recharge much at night, so I have very little battery power during the day. Every movement, every stress big or small, etc. takes a certain amount of 'battery' power from the generator. The worst part is that when the 'battery' is all used up (like with a major stress), then I feel the generator "sputtering" nearing the end of its reserve. Unfortunately, if the generator ever quits completely, that's it. No restarting it. That is the danger of adrenal problems. You have to know the warning signs and immediately stop using energy and find a way to recharge or you end up in adrenal crisis.

Thankfully I've never gotten as bad as adrenal crisis (which would put me in the hospital or worse). But I have experienced some of the warning signs like nausea and shakiness. That's when the body gets panicky, and it's hard to stay calm as you feel your inner source of energy 'sputtering.'

In God's grace, He reassures me that He will see me through those scary moments, but it's still hard. I'm thankful for the Cortef (cortisol), which is an external way to 'recharge' my battery. Other than that I have to suspend all activity that isn't completely essential and just try to rest in God's hands. I certainly hope that one day my adrenals will be recovered, and I'll forget what it's like to be always thinking about the state of my internal 'generator.' Until then, I'm thankful for people's prayers and God's sustaining grace.

I hope this analogy is a helpful glimpse into what it's like for me at times. I'm glad that this is not common knowledge to people, because that means they have the privilege of taking normal function for granted. If you're reading this, I hope you're thankful for that. =)

God bless,
-Joanna

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