The Other Me
‘Looking For Answers’
Panic exploded in my head. I grabbed dinner, reheated it, and wolfed it down. After I was done, I tested again, holding my breath as the little machine calculated. 4.2. Back to normal, although a low normal. Still, it was normal. So that was something.
The next day, Friday, I made sure I ate, and tested obsessively, but figures remained okay. I wanted to talk to Dr Warren about it, but he didn’t work Fridays. I did call Saturday morning, and informed the receptionist I’d gotten a low reading. She asked how low, and when I told her, she gasped, which was no assurance at all. She told me she’d get Dr Warren to call me back, but in the end he didn’t. Maybe he was busy. Maybe he just thought I was being a hypochondriac.
I was starting to find calm, though. Continued testing showed normal figures. The 1.6 must’ve been because I’d eaten so sparingly through the day. That’s all I had to do: eat. So simple, but also so foreign after all the issues with my stomach.
Sunday afternoon, I took a walk – the same walk – and came home just before lunch. I didn’t want to test, but also had to, to continue to prove that 1.6 was an aberration, especially after participating in the same activity. The little machine calculated, then beeped: 4.8.
Everything was fine.
I grabbed lunch – a roast, with carrots and peas, and poured myself a glass of lemon-flavored mineral water I’d just bought. I ate some of the vegetables. Picked up my glass. Took a gulp of lemon-flavoured mineral water.
Within the space of ten seconds, my heart accelerated and pounded in my chest. A hot flush rose up over my face and sweat beaded on my temples. An excruciating pain corkscrewed in my scalp and my whole head tightened until I felt like I’d pass out.
I found the meter, and forced myself to steady as I tested, although the throbbing in my head was agony. The little meter calculated. Then beeped. Back down to 2.5. Something in the lemon-flavoured mineral water had done something.
I struggled through the rest of lunch, ate a banana – the banana making me feel the littlest bit better – but had to lie down the rest of the day, the pain was so bad. Again, I had that sense of whirling, like the room was moving around me, although I could see clearly it wasn’t.
On Monday I called Dr Warren’s clinic and got an appointment to see him the following evening. I explained to him what had happened, from the 1.6 to the lemon-flavoured mineral water. In regards to the latter, he said it sounded like a ‘reactive hypoglycaemia’, and consulted some of his textbooks. I told him how petrified I was, not knowing what I could and couldn’t eat, what would cause symptoms.
He called the Northern Hospital and tried to get me booked in for tests. He spoke to the registrar of endocrinology, who suggested it might be Addison’s Disease, where the body’s adrenal glands don’t produce enough steroid hormones – or something. It was just a name to me. Treatment involved daily tablets to replace the missing cortisol. I didn’t understand any of it, but saw an entire future of medication, self-monitoring, and tests.
The next morning, I showed up at the Northern, where they performed the test for Addison’s, which involved taking my blood, shooting me full of something called ‘tetracosactide’, and then taking another blood test an hour later to see how my body had responded. I didn’t understand any of it. They were all just words to me. And the procedure passed by in a blur. All I wanted to know was whether I had it or not.
I went home after the test, waiting for the results. The hospital said they’d call me as soon as they got them, but when I hadn’t heard within a couple of days, I went and saw Dr Warren, who called the hospital and got the results himself.
No to the Addison’s.
So something else was going on.