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Ach! Not Again!

UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center

Yesterday morning, I found myself being admitted to UCLA Hospital’s emergency room. That morning, I awoke around six in the morning to go to the bathroom. Coming back I found myself bumping into things. When I tried to get back into bed, I slipped and fell on the floor pinning my left shoulder between the bed and my nightstand. I was too weak to make a serious attempt to get up.

Martine heard my fall and frantically tried to help me. But how could she, with her right wrist in a cast from when she broke it the week before. For hours she tried to make me comfortable and gave me water to sip through a straw. Fortunately, she had the presence of mind to give me 30mg of Hydrocortisone, which, as it happened, is the cure for the symptoms I was experiencing.

Time and time again, she asked if I wanted an ambulance. My consciousness was improving from the Hydrocortisone Martine gave me, so I finally said yes. It seemed that the bedroom was crawling with Emergency Medical Technicians from the Fire Department within minutes. They hauled me out of my wedged position and dumped me on the bed. Their strongly recommended I be admitted to the hospital. I tried to resist their suggestion until I had the feeling that it was pretty much de rigeur in their profession.

So, as when I had my last serious Addisonian Crisis on December 30, 2017, I was trundled down the apartment steps, plunked into the ambulance, and driven to the UCLA Hospital emergency room (but without the sirens).

What was wrong with me? The scientific term is panhyopituitarism, which means I no longer have a pituitary gland. It all happened many years ago. To read the gory story of my near-death experience in 1966, click on this post from April 2015.

By the time I got to UCLA, I was feeling pretty good as the Hydrocortisone was doing its job; but I knew I would have to go through the medical profession’s equivalent of the death of a thousand cuts. I was wheeled from one clerk to another and asked for details which were entered into their system. Fortunately, In December 2017, I had roughly the same situation.

Still, it seems that emergency wards assume you have some internal organ problem such as a heart attack or cancer, so I was hooked up with little stickies all over my upper body and probed with needles until the doctors determined that, yes, I would not be likely to die on the spot. My problem was not a disease of an internal organ, but the fact that I was missing the body’s master gland and occasionally needed to have extra amounts of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) in lieu of natural adrenaline.

On at least two dozen times, I made the point that the problem was that I had no pituitary. I had to talk with an endocrinologist because my ailment was not a common one, certainly not one that a typical emergency room physician would grasp. Not only that, but the cure had been applied hours before when Martine gave me my medications. Back in 2017, the same hospital held me for three days until the resident endocrinologist strolled in with her hands in her pockets and, immediately understanding my situation, had me released.

Fortunately, I was released late that afternoon. Maybe it was the record of my 2017 experience that convinced them to let me go. Maybe it was because they had me walk to the bathroom and saw that I was fully mobile. And apparently, the doctors did talk to the endocrinologist who told them to let me go. I felt bad to be around all those persons who were really suffering. I kept telling the nurses I felt I was occupying space in their emergency room under false pretenses.

So I took a taxi home, and Martine was at the front of the apartment to give me my wallet so I could pay the driver.

The funny thing is, there is little advanced warning when one is about to suffer an Addisonian Crisis. In this case, I didn’t suspect something was wrong until I returned from the bathroom to go to bed. That was approximately a half-minute warning.

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