Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Get well soon!

One of the worst things about Kirk's broken pituitary is that nobody understands what's wrong with him. He's been home for more than a year now and unable to work. Summer before last, he finally gave in and stopped working. The GP could find nothing wrong and was about to write it off as 'stress' or chronic fatigue syndrome. After some research on the internet, we guessed it might be an endocrine issue and as Kirk had private insurance through work, the GP grudgingly gave a referral.

Turns out it wasn't stress. It was a pituitary micro-adenoma; a benign tumour on the pituitary gland that was causing the pituitary to shut down. Unfortunately, this is a chronic condition so after the diagnosis, we were sent back to the caring surroundings of the NHS.

More info on
The pituitary is responsible for releasing several hormones into the body. You might think an adult doesn't have much need of hormones but nothing is further from the truth. Thanks to hormones, people can recuperate from the stresses of everyday life. And I'm not talking about those things that are generally considered stressful like angry bosses, deadlines, paying the bills; or physical stresses like running a marathon. Everything little thing we do every day puts some level of stress on our body and mind. That's why we have a rest, eat some chocolate, and sleep. Mostly while we sleep, but also generally throughout the day, our pituitary releases hormones as we need them. That's how we add and maintain muscle mass and bone density; it's how we deal with the mental stresses of the day; it's how we build up strength and resilience.

Without his pituitary functioning properly, Kirk has been losing muscle mass but gaining weight, he's developed memory and concentration problems and easily becomes agitated or even depressed, he comes down with every infection that is going around. He's constantly fatigued and in pain. Resting doesn't help and only prescription pain medication even takes the edge off.

And there's where it gets annoying. Try and explain this to all those people who unwittingly ask: "How are you?" What silly suggestions we get! Everybody is tired after a long day of work and school runs and housework. Everybody is so used to hyperbole, that the meaning of the words 'fatigue' and 'pain' are lost. Have we tried their favourite brand of multivitamins? Perhaps some acupuncture or pilates will help? If some other part of one's body stopped functioning, like a leg or a lung or even a heart, would anyone suggest herbal remedies and a cranial osteopath? Of course not. But it's just one of those 'invisible' illnesses, isn't it?

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