Sometimes a moose in the kitchen is just a moose in the kitchen
By way of prologue, I took an online ADD/ADHA test this week, for which, unfortunately, I can no longer find the link. There are many tests out there, all with the same questions, but the one I took actually ranked you along the spectrum.
The questions interested me because they highlighted details I had before never put together. “Do you startle easily?” Oh yeah. Ask anyone who’s ever put his or her hand cordially on my shoulder from behind and been reflexively punched. There was a question about disturbance by light and sound in the environment. That very day I’d been at a friend’s house, asking her to turn on more lights, turn down the message beeper on her answering machine, unplug things that were humming, &c. She’s an indulgent hostess who was oblivious to these things, which to me were extremely invasive, hostile presences. But I answered “No” to many questions, too–I’ve never been in trouble with the law or had problems with destructive compulsive behaviors. And, in fact, I’m hypervigilant and compulsively organized to compensate for the waves of inattention I experience. I’m either fully engaged or fully absent. It isn’t easy having chronic fatigue and an inability to sit still very long. But I thought I’d score low to moderate. In fact, I was ranked at the high end of the spectrum, with the notation that I manifest ADD mostly in social settings. This would probably not surprise anyone who knows me.
I have Addison’s disease, and noting it was time for my thyroid and cortisol levels to be checked, I dutifully reported for lab duty this week in typical ADD fashion. When you’re ADD, you see, you’re the only one who sees the emergency in everything; only you perceive the cascading avalanche of doom overhead. You have no idea why no one else gets it, but they just don’t.
I had to initiate the call to remind my doctor’s office it was time for my blood test. Yes, they agreed. Yes, past due. My doctor is recovering from a recent health emergency of his own, and everything is operating by slow relay in an already efficiency-challenged office. I am not the only one who sees this.
Then, no one called me with the lab results. Ever the proactive patient, I called my doctor’s back-up doctor and the lab, had the results faxed to him, and his office called me back. My blood was pronounced perfect. The previous observation of an overcharged thyroid is hereby retracted. The fact that I have several symptoms consistent with a moribund thyroid is uninteresting but something I should take up with my endocrinologist when he returns fit for duty. For now, I am safely Addison’s-only and regulating well on my hydrocortisone. Emergency belayed. Happy holidays.
My doctor recently promoted me to a normal human subsistence dose of hydrocortisone, and I am not having any side effects. The start low, go slow protocol was a good waystation, even if it meant I was underfunctioning for a month. But the past month was nothing like the previous months before diagnosis and treatment. Overall, I have improved significantly.
Improvement notwithstanding, I remain tired, my chest feels compressed much of the time, especially if I’m the least bit cold, and sometimes I wheeze under slight exertion. My heart is perfect, as was my chest X-ray. If I need extra energy to meet any sort of non-routine challenge, I don’t have it. But the ADD personality isn’t quelched by lack of energy: I remain hypervigilant to challenges that can’t be met and, realistically, for the most part, don’t need to be.
I really believe humor is the best medicine God has provided for his intractable people. I am blessed that so many sources of humor are providentially placed in my environment with faithful regularity. My Cat is more ADD than I am, and his antics when he is in high gear, chasing and eluding Enemies, make me laugh. He races down the length of the house, ears back, eyes wide, turning in mid-air, racing back, slamming the little entry rug in a heap into the wall. Then he leaps from chair to chair before deciding where he will nap until the next assault. Sometimes he just sits atop one of his high places, ears back, looking like a great horned owl, scowling down on his domain.
This morning, one of our hens was screeching. It was horrible–I was afraid my neighbor would come over thinking I was killing her and ask for a few choice parts. I looked out, and the hen had managed to fly over the gate that encloses our deck, but she couldn’t remember how to fly out again. I opened the gate and she trotted out, still screaming indignantly. If my neighbor had shown up, I planned to align her sympathies for the hen by claiming hormone flux.
Like the hen on the deck, I’m fine, I’m safe, I’m not really trapped, but my system is simply calibrated to emergency mode. I tell you, there’s a moose in the kitchen! Maybe there is, but he’ll find his way out.