hope {adrenal exhaustion}

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One day Kate saw this ad in a magazine and said, "Is that you, Mama?" I should have known something was wrong then.

I know I have been a really bad blogger. I have not posted a lot and what I have posted has been of little substance lately. I really have not felt well in a long time. I am utterly exhausted and I get sick all the time. I finally found a specialist who has run a million tests and I got all of the results today.

Normally, I would not post such personal health information but I am sharing this because I would never want someone to feel as awful as I have for as long as I have. I found out that I have a severe vitamin B-12 deficiency, vitamin D deficiency and my thyroid levels are low. However, the main diagnosis was severe adrenal exhaustion.

Your adrenal glands produce all of your stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and they also produce all of the essential reproductive hormones. My adrenal glands are barely functioning. My cortisol level are so low, the doctor is amazed that I can get out of bed.

Symptoms of adrenal exhaustion include:

  • excessive fatigue and exhaustion
  • non-refreshing sleep (you get sufficient hours of sleep, but wake fatigued)
  • overwhelmed by or unable to cope with stressors
  • feeling rundown or overwhelmed
  • craving salty and sweet foods
  • you feel most energetic in the evening
  • a feeling of not being restored after a full night's sleep or having sleep disturbances
  • low stamina, slow to recover from exercise
  • slow to recover from injury, illness or stress
  • difficulty concentrating, brain fog
  • poor digestion
  • low immune function
  • food or environmental allergies
  • premenstrual syndrome or difficulties that develop during menopause
  • consistent low blood pressure
  • extreme sensitivity to cold
There are many more symptoms but the bottom line is you feel completely exhausted and you get sick often. You also overreact to things physically. For example, I flinch a lot and am very jumpy because my body cannot adequately regulate the normal fight or flight response.

As a result of the long term adrenal exhaustion, my thyroid and hormone levels are all messed up as well. The doctor thinks it will take over a year to get things back to normal. I am SO encouraged though. She gave me a B-12 shot today and lots of natural supplements and she is beginning to compound some bio-identical hormones to help things get back to normal.

I have felt like a terrible Mom, wife, and friend for a long time now because I am so tired. I just could not do anything 100%. I would look around at women who are able to accomplish so much more than me in a day and feel really guilty. I have let my house get so messy. I have snapped at my kids and husband. I have really felt like people thought I was lazy or a hypochondriac. Finally, I found a doctor who really listened to me and found out what was indeed wrong. I cannot tell you how many dismissed me when I told them I thought I was low in B-12 or that my adrenals were not functioning correctly.

So, I am telling you this because I wish that I had tried harder to find a specialist who would listen to me and do a thorough exam to get to the bottom of my health issues. I had the textbook symptoms of adrenal exhaustion and low vitamin B-12. I also had textbook symptoms of a hormonal imbalance caused by adrenal exhaustion. Yet, I look healthy and eat healthy. For me, the adrenal exhaustion was likely caused by years of sustained stress (building a house, moving across the country twice, parenting a chronically ill child, adopting, etc). Luckily, our heathy diet protected me from other damage this can cause.

So, I am finally on the road to recovery and while I am excited, I know it is going to be hard. For six weeks, I need to eliminate ALL SUGAR and YEAST from my diet. No wine for me. And no chocolate! I will likely blog about my recovery process a little bit because I want to encourage and help other people out there who might have adrenal fatigue or exhaustion.

I am certainly not an expert but this is the second time I have been afflicted with adrenal exhaustion and I have done my research. I hope this helps just one person who might have these symptoms but not know where to turn.


  1. Awww, you poor girl. Know that I am praying for your recovery soon.

    There's been a few times I get low in iron and it is rough. I can't imagine what you're going through.


  2. So happy that you have found the source of all your problems. You are so kind to share your strugle incase another women may read this and realize they may have it. Please post as much info as you wish, we are here to support you... You are a wonderful Mom and to think you've only been operating at less than 50%... Today is s great day for you. Praying for a quick turn around.

  3. I am so sorry you have been dealing with this for so long, but happy that you now have some answers. I also think it is wonderful that you are sharing this with others, so they can learn from your experience. Hope you are feeling better soon!

  4. Kim , I am so sorry to hear how tough it has been for you. I am so happy that it can be "fixed".My prayers are with you and your family as you begin the healing process. You can give up anything, Lent taught you that. Thank you for sharing as always. You never know how much your honesty may truly help someone else. Big hugs!!!

  5. Oh Kim! I'm so sorry to hear you've been struggling with all that... what a list of debilitating symptoms!
    So encouraged for you, though! Hope you're feeling back to yourself SOON :)
    Big hugs to you!!

  6. I almost called today to see if you had gotten the results back yet. I am glad that it is something that is treatable!

    You never know who may read this that may be struggling with the same thing, so I applaud you for sharing.

    Now get better soon my friend...love and hugs~

  7. Glad that you and the docs figured out what was wrong and how to remedy it. Take care of yourself -- we Moms always do so much for everyone else, our own self goes to the bottom of the list. Time to move it up to the top.


  8. sweet kim
    i agree with you....i can see where having a true diagnosis just helps you already. its like you knew something was wrong but now you have that affirmation. & with that comes the knowledge of specific treatment to get you back to 100% you--who is indeed amazing by the way.
    thank you for sharing & for be willing to be open about your treatments etc. that truly does bring hope , & at the end of the day, that's what people need

    love to you my friend & pray you continue to feel better

  9. I am so sorry to hear that you've been feeling so miserable. You have done a great service by sharing your situation. I hope that you feel better as soon as possible. I will say a little prayer for you and yours!

  10. Poor ol' you. But I'm glad it's treatable, albeit over one year. I too have a severe Vit D deficiency (just found out). Who knew it could affect so much in your body??

    Get well, my friend. Get well soon.
    Snick :)

  11. FINALLY! Some REAL answers! I am so grateful that you've uncovered the truth. Now onto the good part--recovery! Lots of prayers for energy and strength coming your way. I'm here if you need me...always.

  12. Bless your heart!! You must be relieved to know what has been causing you to feel differently. I read all of your symptoms and will file away this info. I am so glad you shared. I am also praising God that you have begun your road to recovery!!!

  13. Kim,

    I pray that you are feeling better soon. I feel many of those things and simply thought it was motherhood (and in my case, it may be!). It's so hard to care for yourself when you are the caregiver. I'm so glad that you found someone who listened and was able to put the whole puzzle together because so often medical care is terribly fragmented. Do you have any good sources of info on this subject?

    Keep us posted and thanks for sharing. I'll be thinking of you!

  14. What a relief to finally have some answers and not feel like you're going bonkers. Thanks for enlightening us with this information.

    Wishing you a healthy recovery ~

  15. Thanks for sharing! I just went and had blood work done as well because I sleep eight hours or more per night and wake feeling exhausted. I also take about a 30 minute nap almost every afternoon simply because I can hardly hold my head up. As a result I run around like mad in the evenings trying to get everything done. For as much as I exercise (just finished a half marathon), I feel like I should have a lot of energy and I don't. How did you find a specialist and what type of Dr. did you see (OBGYN, Family Doctor)?

  16. So sorry you've felt rotten but glad you have a diagnosis and a plan. I hope you're feeling better very soon.

  17. Wow Kim! I am so sorry you are feeling like this. For you (all), I am relieved that you were finally diagnosed! Way to go on being your own advocate! I am proud of you!
    Feel better quickly. Thank you, as always, for sharing!

  18. There's nothing worse than feeling exhausted and not knowing why. And I know how hard it is to go from dr to dr trying to find a diagnosis. My father suffers from Addison's Disease (adrenal insufficiency) it was a rough few years getting diagnosed but the recovery was night and day. I pray that yours is quick and you feel back to your old self soon!

  19. I am so glad you finally have a diagnosis. I hope you are feeling better soon. Hang in there!

  20. KIm - praises that you discovered what was up - proud of you that you stuck with trying to find the solutions! Praying for a miracle recovery that will be a testimony of the healing power of hte Great Physician Himself -

    much love!

  21. Thinking of you. Sounds like you have been having a hard time. :( Be gentle with yourself. You DO accomplish so much and it have been through so much and handled it all with such grace, joy and faith. Hugs to you, Kim. I am impressed with your courage to continue to go to doctors to get answers and help. xoxoox

  22. I hope you feel better soon. the thyroid is so important to our bodies, and i can really relate to how you feel. my friend just opened her own bakery making gluten free breads, etc. I need to find her blog address to get for you. she has gluten intolerance. anyway, feel better soon my friend!

  23. WOW girly....
    Glad you found someone that would listen.. and you are on the road to recovery..
    that is really interesting.. never heard of such a thing.. and can't wait to read about your recovery..
    Love ya my friend..

  24. So sorry that you have been feeling so poorly. It must be such a relief to have found a doctor who not only has found the issues, but listened to you:)

    Praying for your health!

    Blessings, Ashley

  25. Kim, my mom just went to a specialist last week, and was told the SAME thing! She is on the same diet and vitamins, etc. I can't wait to see how it helps her. I've had some symptoms myself, and if I'm still feeling this way when we get back from China, I'm going to go and see him myself. It can't hurt!

    Prior to seeing this specialist, have you still been juicing? I know you had some success with that for awhile, so I'm curious.

    Praying you are feeling leaps and bounds better, soon!! God bless! <><


  26. Kim, you mustn't blame yourself, just glad you've got a good diagnosis, and good protocol to get better! I've had thyroid disease, and I know how whacked out it can make you, so I understand what this can do to you, too. Bless your heart; glad you got some help!


  27. I am so happy you went to that doctor and she's going to be able to help. That is good news. I bet you'll start feeling better soon!

  28. I'm so encouraged for you to have found this out! This sounds like what I had when I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. When I started going to the NAET lady I started taking a (actually 6 Cataplex B tablets) a day. What a world of difference it made (along with the synthroid)! I can remember how glad I was to know something was the matter with me :) and that I wasn't just lazy! I hope you'll be feeling better soon!

  29. Oh, Kim.... I am so thankful your doctor discovered what is going on. You poor thing. It is amazing that you were able to function at all! I know when I had Graves Disease how the thyroid can MESS YOU UP! physically, emotionally and mentally.
    Will be praying for you and it is going to get better now!
    God's healing...

  30. Kim,

    I'm so sorry you have been feeling ill. I can relate to all your symptoms! Thanks for sharing this - I'm going to get some tests done!

    sadly I've always felt so much better when I don't have sugar and wine - you've inspired me to give those up for 6 weeks too -OUCH! I will be looking forward to your updates!

    xo ellie

  31. *Stopping by to wish a great day and many blessings.*

  32. Kim,

    I am so sorry to hear you are not yourself. Please take care of yourself.

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information. I can't wait to hear that you are feeling just a little better.


  33. Oh I'm so sorry you've been feeling so poorly! I will keep you in my prayers ~ at least you have some answers now and can start to heal.

  34. PLease consider seeking the help of a qualified homeopath as well. Homeopathy can do wonders for adrenal fatigue and can work well in conjunction with other therapies.

    Also, sometimes people are b12 deficient or deficient to any other vitamin because their body is treating it as an allergen/sensitivity and they can't absorb it. This can lead to deficiencies and many food allergies. Google N.A.E.T. A woman I met in China used it to cure her children of their food allergies.

    I usually don't mention these to people because people sometimes dismiss alternative care but you seem open minded to this type of care. Good luck to you.

  35. Feel better- I am so glad to hear you have an action plan to wellness...( I am going to bring this topic up at my next physical- thanks for sharing!)

  36. There is something to be said for *knowing* what the problem is. There is *freedom* in answers! Hope and pray you get the help you need. Because you eat healthy, you are one step ahead of the game. Keep us posted.

    Ironically, I had spent a lot of time on your blog yesterday because I was reading everything you had written on your son's allergies. My daughter is nursing her five month old. The baby seems to be allergic to dairy. Eczema, runny stools etc. My daughter is TRYING to change her diet completely and it has been a difficult ride so far. She doesn't want to stop nursing. I have really learned a lot from reading some of your posts. Thanks!

  37. Thank you kindly for sharing! I have been feeling the same way and feel like a loser!! I bought some B-12 last night and took one today, but now I am making an appt. with my physician! I am under alot of stress with my job(mortgage banking) 3 girls.. a house, husband etc.. it is a wonder all mom's don't feel this way!! Get better!

  38. Praying that you start to see improvement soon.
    I am sorry that you have been diagnosed with this, but yay! that the drs found the source of it all.

  39. Oh Kim...I don't know whether to say I am thrilled or sad, so I will say both. I am thrilled you have some answers. I am sad you have felt so poorly and pray that recovery will not take that full year. Kim, you do everything with your whole self and I know God will give you the strength to come back 100%!

    I have to be honest...my doctor took me off of my thyroid medication three years ago and I KNOW that it was the wrong choice. I like my doctor, but I think you have just given me the encouragement I need to seek answers for my own health now. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for posting this.

    I wish you health, wellness and lots of love.


  40. WOW, Kim! I am so glad you were brave and strong enough to push through and find an answer. (Loved every word of this but won't go into 'me!!lol) Its so great of you to post about it, its encouraging and I know will be of huge help to many. I am keeping you in my prayers and looking very forward to more info and your road back!! (Keep the faith when it might be one step forward two back at times!!)

  41. Bless your heart. You will feel so much better soon.

  42. Thank you so much for your heartfelt story, your honesty and willingness to share what has been going on with you, and to educate the rest of us on this condition you have.

    Just knowing what you have can be such a tremendous relief--I hope you feel like a ton of bricks has been lifted off your back and you sound like you are quite savvy on how to deal with this.

    I am so sorry to hear of what you have been going through in the process, and how terrible you have felt.

    You are so amazing at how proactive you are about your health--being fearless and facing what you have and doing your best to overcome it--and living with it in the meantime until you feel better.

    Thank you so much for your inspiration! I pray that you will take good care of yourself.


  43. I am so happy that you now have some answers and start the recovery process. I'm a firm believer in following your instincts, and I'm glad you found a Dr. who is willing to listen.


  44. So sorry to hear you haven't been feeling well. It must be a huge relief to know a diagnosis and course of treatment. I hope your body reacts quickly to the B12 and other changes. You deserve to feel better!

  45. Oh I will be praying for you sweet Kim. How hard it is to be a Mommy when you have all of these other things going on in your body.

    Praying and on the above post, I have always absolutely LOVED Kate's dimples:)

  46. KIM

    Hope you are feeling better!
    Just know there is hope for this! Too many will be praying for you!

    Hard to handle it all when you body is exhausted!

    LOVE Kates dress and dimples

    HUGS! CindyLOU

  47. Your symptoms are much like I feel. And if I have one more person tell me that I need to exercise MORE to get more energy, I think I will lose my mind. I am just having a hard time figuring out the medical differentiation between this and depression and wonder if the dr will just go with the latter because it's more frequently diagnosed.
    Hoping you are well. Hoping to hear (read) another update soon!

  48. I feel the same way as you! I just don't know how to go about finding the right Dr. Any suggestions!?!

    Any updates since your treatment?

    I'm so curious to hear how you are feeling now - summer 2011.

    ~ Ali

  49. Hey Kim. I stumbled across your blog when doing research on adrenal fatigue, which I have. I read your four posts on the subject, but don't' see any after May 2010. How has your health progressed? I am also wondering if your doctor actually diagnosed you with candida, or if she just thought the candida diet would help you with your adrenal fatigue.

    I have been going to a nutritionist since May. I was doing well with the diet she put me on at first, but have severely fallen off the bandwagon. I'm in the process of pumping myself up to get back on my "diet". She didn't have me on a candida diet, but interesting that you were, since an acquaintance loaned my husband a book for me to read on a candida diet, which she has been on for almost four months. I guess she looks at it as a great way to detox and heal from many illness, not only for candida. My nutritionist, however, doesn't believe I have candida, so I haven't gone that route ... yet.

    Anyway, I'd love to find out how your health progressed after May 2010. From some of your posts, you appear to be a Christian. So am I. :)


Thank you for your kindness.