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Okapi days

October 4, 2007


My pastor once told us that he strives to accomplish five things every working day. He added that if he sits at his desk working all day, that’s five things. I have tried to emulate his model, but of course my five things are orders of magnitude smaller than his or most other people’s that I respect. My husband, for instance, commuting, writing, negotiating, arguing motions, attending classes, and setting tile or rewiring our home when necessary, probably accomplishes hundreds of things in a day, most of which are things I couldn’t accomplish given a year.

I have resorted to making lists of simple necessary tasks that need to be done in a day–at least five things–and delightedly checking them off. If I’m feeling too unwell for this to be realistic, taking a shower and getting dressed are two things. Tending to the Cat’s shots is a thing. Feeding the Cat is a thing. If I make a cup of tea, I’m home free.

An endocrine crisis that began about two months ago has drained my already low energy and overwhelmed me with temperature fluxes and anxiety, causing me with fair certainty to think that I would soon be among the ranks of the criminally insane.

Of course, it seemed reasonable at the time to wait six weeks to call a doctor. I always like to wait until things become persuasively precipitous, and then call when I’m incoherent with desperation. You can be so maudlin, Miranda. You see, things work out.

There’s an old medical saw, “If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” To say nothing of okapis. Unless, of course, you live in the Serengeti Plains. I don’t live in the Serengeti Plains, but my superstar Seattle endocrinologist thought he detected a zebra. The seldom-done test he performed came back stamped “okapi.” But the remedy, thankfully, is a horse.

Even superstar Seattle endocrinologists take vacations. The simple remedy is three weeks away. But in three weeks, I should be able to get back on the horse.

I’m hoping the remedy isn’t a bronc.  I’ve been drumming up demoralization and rebellion, reading up on potential side effects of hydrocortisone, most of which are symptoms I already have and had hoped to allay.  But my husband has read further ahead and says that the low dose I will be on should not wreak collateral havoc.  It will simply replace what my adrenal glands do not produce.  He also tells me that denizens of Planet Addisonia are not to take potassium.  He notes there is a reason I have always known bananas are poison.

I’m also bridling against my doctor’s request that I wear a medic alert bracelet.  Sorry, no, not my type of accessory.  I suppose the rationale is that if I’m in a traumatic accident and go into an Addisonian crisis, medics can either figure out from the bracelet that I need extra hydrocortisone and glucose, or figure it out from the autopsy. 

Adrenal failure feels like a stampede. People used to simply take to their beds as invalids and possibly live shorter lives. God has been merciful to my generation, and very specifically, he has been merciful to me. I likely face a life sentence of adrenal hormone replacement, but it beats a stampede of okapis.

I’ve been wretched and touchy. Hypocortisolism produces extreme anxiety. Where two or more are gathered I become nearly hysterical.  

That I still have friends is one of the great proofs of God’s mercy: for who is worthy of love undiminished by blights of nature?

Lord, grant me this day greater trust in your loving mercies than I have ever known before.

It is unlikely that this is the last episode of discomfiture I will know in this life. I can only hope God’s mercy will cause me to remember its lessons for the next time.

Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. (Psalm 71:9)

  1. Mike Pitzler permalink
    October 5, 2007 2:27 am

    “Hypocordisonism” said the EMT, greatly impressing his colleagues. (You know that you’re in my district, don’t you?)

    You also know what Oly named his new pet zebra? The answer is too obvious to print.

  2. October 5, 2007 5:48 am

    Do you guys actually look at these bracelets? Will you know what to do? Consider your answer, Mike; there’s a bond issue up. Yes, I know I’m in your district, right in the 3-miles-from-home danger zone. A consoling thought.

    No, what he did name him?

  3. Ruben permalink
    October 5, 2007 6:54 pm

    Well, at least nowadays the medics won’t wave smelling salts under your nose and slap your hands.

  4. October 5, 2007 7:47 pm

    That reminds me of a woman I worked with at Grand Canyon. Penny had lost two husbands to angina. For some reason, her misfortune turned her into an altruist of death. She always carried a vial of nitroglycerine everywhere. One day a tourist collapsed–we were at Desert View, at over 7,000 feet. Penny rushed out of the curio shop and gave the man nitro. The rangers took him by chopper to Flagstaff. We found out later that he’d had a stroke. Penny’s nitro could have blown his brains up, but somehow they were able to save him.

  5. Mike Pitzler permalink
    October 8, 2007 11:02 am

    No, had to look it up. Replacement of corticosteroids, I.V. fluids, potassium, insulin. We’re not doctors. Stabilize. The paramedics give you the drugs.


  6. Mike Pitzler permalink
    October 8, 2007 11:05 am

    and yeah, noticed you were in the church ICU. hope you’re doing better.

  7. October 8, 2007 11:20 am

    Um, actually Mike, from what I’ve read potassium is not good for an Addisonian crisis and insulin would be very bad since typically you go hypoglycemic, but maybe there’s variation. Anyway, I guess you’ve made a good case for Medic Alert, because my doctor will enter the correct instructions into their system when we get that detail organized.

    I hear you were in on the excitement of the year in our town Saturday with the foundry explosion. Good job. Our lights flickered and we heard the BOOM. I love stuff like that so I wasn’t stressed.

  8. September 14, 2008 4:14 am

    I think one of the things of which you have lost sight is to question why God smote you with this illness in the first place. You must have done something to upset Him.

  9. September 14, 2008 11:46 am

    “I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” (Psalm 119:75)

    I would also encourage you to read Job, perhaps with a good commentary.

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