Whoa guys! Can I tell you just how scary it is when your husband starts passing out and you can’t figure out why?! Needless to say, it’s super scary!
Note: This story is long… very long!
Here’s the story:
Jim has been passing out for years. He passed out several times a few times before I met him, but he always blamed it on needing to eat – low blood sugar or getting overheated. I didn’t think much of it until a scary incident 2 years ago and then another one last year. His symptoms start with the feeling that he has the flu. He starts shaking (a nervous wife would call that convulsing), shivering, freezing and burning up at the same time. He gets really weak. Sometime within this whole episode, he becomes delirious and his skin turns slightly green. This is the point where each time, I finally convince him to head to the emergency room.
This last time was the worst.
I finally got him in my car after taking several breaks from the master bedroom to the garage, gave him some fruit snacks (it could have been blood sugar, right?) and a few sips of Gatorade. We went approximately 4 miles down the road before he asked me to pull over. After throwing up, he looked at me, his eyes both went different directions, he threw up again and then he passed out. The 911 operator couldn’t even understand me – I was screaming so loudly. He was dragged out of my car, dropped (oops!) and taken into the ambulance. I pleaded with the EMTs to take him to the hospital of my choice, but they couldn’t stabilize him – or wake him up for that matter. Finally, they did and through my tears, the sweet voice of my husband offering reassurance filled my car through my Bluetooth speaker as I followed the ambulance the 30 miles to our hospital of choice.
At the hospital, they poked, they prodded. They even did a spinal tap (like the other time, 2 years ago) and found nothing. They said it was syncope. (Nope – sorry, not syncope people!) They kept him overnight and gave him bags upon bags of IV fluid. They sent us home with no answers – no reason for this life threatening incident to have occurred, now several times.
Throughout the next few months, we visited Cardiologists (nothing wrong with his heart – check!), and Neurologists (who swore up and down that it was a seizure although they found nothing on EEGs, including their multi-day EEG – check!) until my husband finally just gave up.
As his year anniversary (it seems this happens around the same time each year) approached, I encouraged (well… maybe demanded, but we will stick with encouraged) him to visit a hormone doctor that I had been seeing. He was tired all the time and just wasn’t enjoying life anymore. Going to friends’ homes became a challenge – he would lay on their couch as we all talked. We knew something wasn’t right – we just didn’t know what.
He did a simple saliva test. That saliva test ultimately saved his life.
The findings: his cortisol levels NEVER get above 2.52 – ever. Not in the morning, not mid-day, never.
He is borderline (that’s what they said) Addison’s. It’s Addison’s Disease. It was Addison’s all along! The episodes he was having are known as an Addisonian Crisis or Adrenal Crisis. He takes hydrocortisone 3 times per day and even though it’s only been about 2 weeks, he can now tell when his medicine is wearing off.