Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Cortisol... check! Last one to go

After a recent blood test - by recent I mean a few weeks of course, we are talking NHS here - it turns out that as we suspected, Kirk's cortisol levels are now worryingly low. This was to be expected. For the past year, his pituitary gland has been gradually shutting down all production of adult growth hormone, testosterone, thyroid stimulating hormone, and now cortisol. The good news is: it doesn't do anything else so nothing else can go wrong. Unless the adenoma turns into a prolactinoma, but that's unlikely. If it was going to, it would be one by now.

Cortisol deficiency is a bit scary. It's the hormone that the body uses to cope with stresses. It is given in standard daily doses, but sufferers need to carry an 'emergency' dose with them to deal with unexpected stresses. And they have to take extra doses, for example when they're fighting an infection. If levels of cortisol are too low to help the body cope, then the person can suffer some sort of crisis and black out. I'm not quite clear on the details yet, but surely Kirk will learn more from the consultant later this week.

But, ever the optimist, I now look forward to seeing my husband gradually improve as all the different replacement therapies are tweaked and balanced out. With any luck, his condition will stabilize and he might be able to regain the strength, health, and fitness he has lost over the past 18 months of deterioration. Maybe, in a few years, he might return to work? If only the tailored exercise and rehab programs that are recommended for his condition were actually available on the NHS. But that would mean they have to have personal and sustained attention for a patient with individual symptoms. Good luck with that.

Optimism and reality don't match.

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