Adrenal Fatigue: Winning the Battle
Stupefied, I hit refresh. That can’t be right. Can it?!? *hits refresh again, and again.* Jaw drops. Holy sweet mother above it IS right. I let out an involuntary ‘whoop’ and the old man beside me in the coffee shop lowers his newspaper to give a scowling look. I say sorry, but there’s nothing sorry about my ear to ear smile. He’s frankly lucky I didn’t jump on the table and dance. That whoop was three years in the making!
I. Am. Healthy
I was looking at my medical lab results from the week prior. I was looking at freakin’ healthy results. It felt like the weighty chains of illness broke and I was ready to roar. It felt that good. All of the good.
If you haven’t been following my posts or Instagram, for the last 3 years I’ve been battling ‘burn out’ (aka adrenal insufficiency) like a champ. My cortisol levels have been dismal to say the least with a laundry list of symptoms that are cringe worthy. I wrote all about it here.
Normal lab value ranges vary by institution but, according to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada the normal range for AM cortisol is 17-63.5 nmol/L.
My results have been:
- November 2015: 2.3 nmol/L
- January 2017: 4.8 nmol/L
- August 2017: 24.7 nmol/L *ladies and gentleman we have a winner!*
All of the yaaaassssssss! In hindsight, I should have been sent to an endocrinologist and likely would have been put on corticosteroids years ago. Except, I didn’t have a family doctor and it took several clinic appointments and time before finding one. In the background, my naturopathic doctor made nutrition and lifestyle recommendations (one compliant patient right here!) to support healing. She was instrumental in helping understand hormones, digestion, and the consequences they had on mental health and I’m so SO thankful! It was her support and my stubbornness that lead to recovery. I started listening to my body, researching, and reading everything I could get my mitts on! It took some big changes which I highlighted in “Adrenal Fatigue – A Nursing Student’s Story”.
During those years I also sought our alternative therapies like meditation, reflexology, acupuncture, cranial sacral, and healers. Slightly odd approach for a science driven nursing student but it’s where my values/spirituality lands and works for me. That’s the important piece right there, doing what works for you and not giving up.
“Cortisol is a steroid hormone, one of the glucocorticoids, made in the cortex of the adrenal glands and then released into the blood, which transports it all round the body. Almost every cell contains receptors for cortisol and so cortisol can have lots of different actions depending on which sort of cells it is acting upon. These effects include controlling the body’s blood sugar levels and thus regulating metabolism, acting as an anti-inflammatory, influencing memory formation, controlling salt and water balance, influencing blood pressure and helping development of the foetus.”
Stress is no joke, the trickle effect prolonged stress has on your physiological and psychological state is mind blowing. We need to manage ourselves and our stresses better. Living in the capital, it’s almost as if being busy and burnt out are the new norm which is a little unsettling on so many levels. It’s great to see the push over social media for more whole food based nutrition, self-care / self-awareness, mental health, functional medicine, and outdoor adventures. Let’s make that the new norm.
Cheers to good health!
Sideline: On a slightly humourous note I realized that I’d be the perfect candidate for placebo pills. It’s rather humbling, ha ha. Obviously my morning cortisol has been rising and logically I know I was feeling better but actually seeing those results single handedly made the biggest difference in the recovery. My mindset shifted. I stopped acting like a sick person, and immediately identified as a healthy person. Energy all damn day long (although I’ll be writing about how I maintained my energy levels while healing for Pranin Organic this fall). I’m back to working out and not afraid about maxing out. I’m happier, more radiant. Life is f**king great. Mindset is a powerful, powerful determinant in health.