While Derek was in hospital they told him he had Adrenal Insufficiency, and handed us some documents that talked about Addison’s Disease. OK. What’s that?
We were given a prescription for Hydrocortisone and SoluCortef (Injectable) and told we would receive an appointment with an Endocrinologist.
No problem. We went home and started investigating what Addison’s Disease meant.
What we found out was that it was called Addison’s Disease when your Adrenal Cortex was damaged and not producing the Cortisol you required. There are a lot more hormones that are produced by the Adrenal Cortex but Cortisol is the main one.
What Addison’s disease doesn’t cover is the Adrenal Medulla (inner part of the Adrenal Gland) which is where the Adrenaline (or epinephrine and norepinephrine) comes from.
Derek stated a number of times to his ACC Claims Manager that things such as not being able to get out of bed due to fatigue, low blood pressure or generally feeling ill was due to Addison’s because this is what we were told what he had was called.
His Claims Manager then said, “but Addison’s is not covered on your claim, I need to check with my Medical Advisor.”. We explained that Addison’s was the other name for Adrenal Insufficiency.
She asked her Medical Advisor for his opinion on the Addison’s. Well apparently Derek doesn’t JUST have Addison’s Disease. What he came back with was:
The “injury” as defined includes:
The effects from damage to the adrenal cortex associated with cortisone and aldosterone deficiency known as Addison’s disease (well we knew that)
AND it also includes the effects of damage to the adrenal medulla, a condition that is not included in the definition of Addison’s Disease.
So, Yes, Derek has Adrenal Insufficiency and it is Primary, there for he has Addison’s Disease. BUT because Addison’s only referres to damage to the Adrenal Cortex, which is what is damaged in Autoimmune Addison’s (the most common type), and because he lost his Medulla as well, it is Beyond Addison’s.
One question frequently asked is “Do patients with Addison’s disease produce adrenaline? Can they get a ‘high’ from bungy-jumping?”
One answer I have found is: Why anyone wants to go bungy-jumping is beyond me but that’s a separate question! For most patients in New Zealand (80-90%), Addison’s disease is due to an auto-immune process that specifically attacks the outer layer of the adrenal gland, leaving the inner layer that produces adrenaline unharmed. Therefore, normal adrenaline responses can be expected in most situations. In any event, a large amount of adrenaline is produced at the nerve endings of our automatic nervous system which is unaffected by Addison’s disease. So you can expect the normal terror of a bungy jump if you dare.
As Adrenal Infarction starts from the inside of the Adrenal Glands, he has lost both his Medulla and Cortex, therefore he won’t get the adrenaline rush from the Adrenal Glands, however, Noradrenaline is produced in the nerve ends as well, so the question is, Will he get the Adrenaline Rush?
He doesn’t see a need to bungy-jump to find out……………………………
Then of course the next question would be, what happens if you don’t have Adrenal Glands and your body gets an adrenaline rush?
I will leave that for a later date to answer.