Shea is a very healthy person who is almost never sick. Thus, when she not only caught the stomach crud from us, but also spiked a fever neither of us had, it was worrisome. After consultation, we concluded that it was likely the same virus we’d had, and not some other terrible currently circulating thing. While she’s more like me in personality in most ways, in being sick, she’s pure Michael: her idea is to go to sleep and stay that way, alone, until she’s better. I only discovered serendipitously that she was not keeping her food down, by running into her in the hallway on her way back to bed after she’d emptied and cleaned her wastebasket--which she’d fetched for herself when she felt ill. Are we terrible parents or what that our darling took care of this all by herself while we were not there to soothe her fevered brow?
The thing about all this that was next most troublesome to me, after recovery from the “terrible, bad mother” part, was how angry it made me with Michael. I know, I know, I know, it’s not rational. Or fair. However, it was real.
It took hours, and sleeping on it, to figure out what my warped psyche was doing: Shea is like Michael when she is sick (self-contained). It’s scary and pushes others out. (I know, I know, that’s not what’s going on; it just feels like it might turn into abandonment.) A completely irrational, retroactive, responsive fear about either Michael or the girls having a brain tumor sent me into outer space. The anger was triggered by the extrapolation that IF he had needed brain surgery, he likely would have excluded us, and how horrible that would have been--not to mention how helpless we would have felt in that situation. Are you cringing that you know me? Do I sound so whacked-out that you don’t want to acknowledge me in public any more? The good news is that even I could recognize how nutso this was, and managed to reel it in upon such recognition. Until then, it wasn’t so fun. Sunshine and reason now reign again in our house.
More good news is that while the recent blood tests demonstrated a cortisol deficiency that, even after stimulation, is still well below the “normal” threshold, my adrenals did respond to the stimulation. This is good news because it means there’s some hope of improving the array of odd symptoms that are detracting from full recovery. The first response is another course of very low-dose steroids--prednisone this time. We’ll watch for change in the troublesome symptoms and do another set of monitoring tests in four weeks. Evidently, people who take steroids for longer than three weeks (c’est moi) sometimes experience their adrenal systems choosing permanent vacation. You can almost hear the inner dialogue: “Shut down? Cool beans! Permanently sounds better than short-term only. Forget this vacation stuff. Let’s just retire.”
The responsiveness of the adrenal system to stimulation in the tests is even better news because it rules out a primary adrenal insufficiency and other icky stuff like Addison’s Disease (which JFK had) and their potentially horrible implications. Instead, what we’re seeing is hypothesized to be a secondary or even terstiary adrenal issue, and the prednisone is intended to replace the cortisol not being naturally produced. After sufficient time (at one point he said two years; surely not), you taper off and see if your own adrenal system has decided to come back to work. In this economy, the prospect of a steady job must hold some appeal even to an AWOL adrenal system, the more so since there seems to be plenty of work available for qualified ones in my habitat.