My struggle with CFS or Hypocortisolism or Adrenal Fatigue.... oh my word


When I  heard the words Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Adrenal Fatigue it made me think of someone who is perpetually lazy, someone who is weak and chronically complaining to their doctor that they need a pill to "fix" them.

 I don't know why but those were just what would come to mind.  I have worked in the medical field since 1994 and for some reason I always associated that "diagnosis" as being well... sort of ... fictional.  I realize now that I was really being influenced by the physicians that I worked for (all of them are amazing) and their ability to code a certain diagnosis.  Their ability to code a diagnosis is what gets them paid.   Firstly, you should know that each disease that is recognized by the insurance companies has a code. These codes are known as the International Classifications of Disease (ICD) codes, and they are administered by the World Health Organization. The latest version of these codes is named ICD-10. The problem is that although Addison’s Disease (severe adrenal insufficiency) has been assigned code 27.1, there is no code for Adrenal Fatigue (a milder adrenal insufficiency). In theory doctors could use code 27.4, Adrenocortical insufficiency NOS (not otherwise specified), but in practice this is difficult to justify when most lab tests come back as ‘within range’.
Although this might sound like more of a bureaucratic issue than a real problem, the consequences of ICD-10 are profound. Without an ICD code, doctors cannot claim payment from a patient’s insurance company. In other words, if they diagnose you with Adrenal Fatigue, they don’t get paid for treating you. This means that only the more enlightened (and less commercial-minded) doctors will consider a diagnosis.
There is another incentive for doctors to avoid an Adrenal Fatigue diagnosis. It is a notoriously difficult condition to treat – a good Adrenal Fatigue treatment often involves dietary changes, herbal supplements and possibly hormone replacement. It is often far easier and more profitable for doctors to treat the symptoms rather than the underlying cause. So, for example, you might get prescribed antidepressants or ADHD medicine to lift your mood and energy, while the real cause of your symptoms is left untreated.
The irony is that Addison’s disease (severe adrenal insufficiency, when cortisol levels fall extremely low) is a well-accepted diagnosis in the medical world. Yet mild adrenal insufficiency (otherwise known as Adrenal Fatigue) is regarded as an invalid diagnosis. One example of this comes from the Hormone Foundation, part of the Endocrine Society, which wrote in 2010:
“Adrenal fatigue is not a real medical condition. There are no scientific facts to support the theory that long-term mental, emotional, or physical stress drains the adrenal glands and causes many common symptoms.” – Hormone Foundation
The problem with this statement lies in the fact that this same foundation readily accepts Addison’s disease as a diagnosis. So why shouldn't it be possible to have a milder adrenal insufficiency? This tendency to only see things in black and white is a major reason why Adrenal Fatigue does not get diagnosed. In the words of Richard Shames, MD:
“Any doctor worth his/her salt understands that the term “adrenal fatigue” means mild adrenal insufficiency. The Hormone Foundation statement readily admits that adrenal insufficiency IS a real diagnosis. To me, they seem to be denying the possibility that some people might have a mild form of a real diagnosis. That’s short-sighted and excessively arbitrary.” – Richard Shames, MD
In time this will change. Take hypothyroidism as an example. A few years ago most endocrinologists  refused to diagnose hypothyroidism if the patient’s blood tests came back within the lab reference ranges. Nowadays, those same endocrinologists are much more inclined to diagnose mild hypothyroidism if their patient’s levels are just at the lower end of the range. Unfortunately this evolution took around 20 years, so it might take some time for the same logic to be applied to Addison’s and Adrenal Fatigue.The Adrenal Fatigue Solution
So with all that being said, the symptoms that I have been experiencing are very much real, I have never been considered a lazy person, I have always hit the ground running and took a great deal of pride in my strength and ability to complete a multitude of tasks in a single day. (much like superwoman)
  That all came to a crashing halt this last summer.   Over the last 2-3 years I have gone through, like most of you, several significant stress events.  The death of my grandmother, conflicts with grown children, a tornado disaster and most recent, a physical and emotional conflict with someone who was very close to me.  All of these events just seemed to snowball downward until I was overwhelmed with symptoms that were really concerning to me. Symptoms that I could no longer just ignore and push through.  Coupled with the fact that I still ate like I did when I was in my early 20's.  It was affecting my ability to function so I knew I needed to do something about this, I had to see someone who could help me.  I have never been someone who took a pill for everything.  Oh sure I am familiar with ibuprofen for a headache or a overworked muscle, but I don't believe in a pill cause i'm lonely, or i'm hungry or i'm not hungry. A pill for my lack of focus or a pill for too much focus.... etc you know what I mean right?  I feel sorry for those people who feel that they need to take a pill for everything under the sun.  Taking that into consideration my symptoms were;
  • Dizziness
  • Severe dry skin
  • Extreme tiredness an hour after exercise
  • Frequent urination
  • Joint pain that was so bad I was concerned about MS,Lupus and RA
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low sex drive
  • Lower back pain
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty getting up each morning regardless of how many hours I slept
  • High levels of fatigue each day
  • Inability to handle stress
  • Cravings for salty foods
  • Cravings for sweets 
  • Higher energy levels in the evenings
  • Memory loss
  • Low self confidence

Quite a list hu?  I knew that if I was feeling this way at 45 I needed to get help quick otherwise how in the world was I going to go into the "golden years" happy, healthy and active.  I knew that there was no way that I was going to be able to continue to do furniture upcycles and building things at the rate I was going.  Not having the ability to do the things that I love is what prompted me to get help.  I have done enough research through the years to know that I wanted to find someone who knew about Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy (NHRT). I did think that most of my symptoms could be hormone related since I had a total hysterectomy in 2005. I had not been on any hormones because I just couldn't believe that putting horse urine inside of my body was the way to go (Premarin).   I did some google searching for doctors who prescribed bio-identical hormones and found one that was within 3 miles of where I worked.  When I called to schedule the appointment they suggested that I pick up a Saliva Test (not covered on insurance) prior to seeing the doctor so that we would have the results to go over on my first visit.  I did this and had the results there when I went in to see him for the first time.

Without going into the details basically my hormone age according to the saliva results was about 65 to 70 years old!!!!!! Geez no wonder I was feeling like an old lady..... my hormones are that old!!!!!! After a lengthy visit and the doctor explaining everything to me in detail he started me on some hormones that are compounded.  He also suggested a whole list of supplements that I should be taking that I am not getting in my diet.  He recommended starting the "Mediterranean Diet" and of course EXERCISE.   He said that he understood that right now, the thought of exercising may be overwhelming to me but to just take it slow... move.... and with time and diet changes I would slowly start feeling good again.  He did some additional blood tests that day and called me 4 days later to tell me that in addition to the "hypocortisolism" I also had low thyroid and my vitamin D was also low. So now, this woman who never takes a pill except the occasional ibuprofen is now taking these daily;

Vitamin D
Armour Thyroid
4 Multivitamins
Vitamin C 4xdaily
Beef Gelatin

It has been almost 30 days since I went to see the doctor and I have been feeling a little better. I have been slowly trying to change my diet too but Thanksgiving kinda threw things off.  Christmas coming doesn't help things out in the diet area either.  I plan to get very serious about my diet  after the holiday.  I have to, this time it isn't an option.  For my future I have got to take this very serious and make this change.  I know that some of you are going to totally relate to what I am saying and I hope that in some way my sharing this with you will maybe help you to do some investigating of your own into your own health.  Others of you must be by now... {if your even still reading this}... thinking that I have lost my mind.... you are not interested in this mess, you want to see the furniture!  Lol, I promise that this is still "that kind of blog".  I just wanted to open up a little and share what has been keeping me from projects and posts.  Simple tasks can be overwhelming sometimes so major furniture upcycles may be slow to post. I hope you will continue to read and visit as I go on this journey.
Blessings to you,

****** Update****************
The above was actually written around the middle of December.  It is now February 24 and There have been some definite improvements.  I seriously debated as to whether or not to share this on the blog.  This is not what the blog is about.  I blog to hopefully inspire you to think outside the box when it comes to decorating on a budget.  But as the days went on and the break in my blog became more and more apparent, I thought that I owed you all some sort of explanation for my silence.  Perhaps, something I expose will help someone out there and "inspire " them to take control of their own health.  Every thing here is based on my own experience and by no means should be considered the holy grail of dealing with the symptoms that go along with Hypocortisolism, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue or whatever you want to call it.  This is just what has been working for me.  If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, I highly recommend reaching out to your doctor or researching physicians in your area that are knowledgeable about Bio-Identical Hormones.  I will be posting a separate post about the changes that have been taking place.  If you have any questions or comments for me, please do not hesitate in reaching out to me.  
Blessings to you, 


  1. I will be 45 this year and I can relate to how life can wreak havoc on a person's health. I hope that you have found positive results with your treatment. My body has undergone quite a bit since December as well. Hospitalization...twice! Surgery. Now hyperthyroidism, anemia, low B-12, and more. I have had great help with essential oils and fermented cod liver oil. I strongly urge you to research them if you have time. Best wishes.

  2. Thank you so much for posting on these issues. I almost died in 2012 from years of undaignosed Celiac's and Hashimoto's disease. Recently this last year I was diagnosed also with adrenal fatigue. I completely understand so many of the symptoms on your list. My work has suffered as well as my self confidence. 5 years ago i would have considered myself self confident and a "wonder woman" but today is not that day. One day, i hope the medical community can catch up- in the mean time i am hoping that support groups will start to emerge to help women like us become empowered again- to create and become self confident again.