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.

“We Cling to Whatever Floats”

Actually It’s a Lot Sooner Than That

Let’s face it: 2017 was nobody’s favorite year, unless they’re billionaires or right-wing extremists. And it definitely wasn’t mine. In the month of December, not only did I break some ribs, but Friday I was admitted to UCLA Hospital for one of my rare recurrences of adrenal insufficiency.  If you want the full background of what happened to me in September 1966, click here. To summarize very briefly: Chromophobe adenoma (pituitary brain tumor, rarely malignant) leads to panhypopituitarism which results at intervals in an Addisonian Crisis, which is what I had on Friday. The cure, very simply, is to inject me with 100mg of Solu-Cortef. Otherwise, I just fade peacefully and lethargically into nonexistence.

Unfortunately my condition is rare enough to flummox most doctors. It took a whole day for them to come up with an endocrinologist. Fortunately, she knew her stuff; and I got well quickly. Most doctors know that my condition exists, but they know little or nothing about the symptoms and treatment.

So that, plus my retirement and Martine’s impending departure (some time in January), added to the continuing devastation wrought by the Trumpf Administration, has led me to regard 2017 as an evil year.

2017 was, indeed, a prime number, which school janitor Frazz in the above cartoon strip of the same name, got right. But his teacher friend, Miss Jane Plainwell, is wrong about the next prime year being 4034, which it can’t be because it is evenly divisible by two. The next ten prime number years are, in order: 2027, 2029, 2039, 2053, 2063, 2069, 2081, 2083, 2087, and 2089. As you can see, they come pretty fast and furious.

Are there any benefits to be derived from surviving through a year that is also a prime number? Nope. As Frazz observes, “We cling to whatever floats.”

I wish all of you a Happy New Year!

Addisonian Crisis

Something I Happen Not To Have Any More

Something I Happen Not To Have Any More

This morning, I did not want to get up. As I am usually an early riser, Martine was concerned that I stayed in bed past noon. I was feeling extremely lethargic. This is not the first time this has happened to me: It was an Addisonian Crisis, caused by adrenal insufficiency. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with my adrenal glands: It’s just that I no longer have a pituitary gland to send messages to the adrenals to produce adrenaline.

We’ve been through this before, so Martine knew exactly what to do. Over the period of two hours, I took ten 5mg tabs of prednisone and made arrangements to go to the emergency ward at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital. There, they put me on an intravenous drip and took my vital signs. After the first hour or so, the prednisone I had taken earlier started to kick in; and my improvement was rapid.

Fortunately, the ER doctor at UCLA was able to contact an endocrinologist who confirmed the treatment. My first such Addisonian Crisis was at a San Diego hospital where the doctor not only refused to contact an endocrinologist but started testing me for the functionality of a certain internal organ I no longer had. Upon the advice of my own physician back in L.A., I checked myself out of that hospital before they decided to do some serious damage to me.

The lethargy that comes with an Addisonian Crisis can be fatal. I keep thinking of those old movies where people are freezing to death and want nothing more than to drop off to sleep. It’s not a bad way to check out of this life, but, to quote Robert Frost:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.