Some things are Hard to Accept

I went to a talk this week about the adrenal glands: how to test for, and treat dysfunction. I suffered a burnout which began with my adrenal glands. Colloquially, this is called adrenal fatigue but the more correct medical diagnosis is HPA Axis Dysregulation. The most noteworthy symptom is chronic fatigue which was my biggest hurdle. The malfunction in my adrenals, which I didn’t address in time, led to the development of an autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland which I will carry for life.


The talk was delivered by a doctor who has a masters of functional medicine. He has intensive knowledge into how the body works, not only one system as a conventional specialist will have, but all systems. Functional medicine is a field that aims to restore balance to the body. It aims to treat the root cause and to address a holistic view of the person, including lifestyle.

Conventional medicine seems to treat the adrenals like a unicorn. The glands, which reside on the top of the kidneys, are largely igored by most practitioners, even some endocrinologists who specialize in the endocrine system. I’m so confused about this and I find it intensely frustrating that in modern lifestyles, plagued with stress and stress-related illnesses, that conventional medicine is ignoring the very organ releasing the stress hormone, cortisol. It makes no sense at all to me.

I have been treated by a homeopath for many years. My homeopath knew that something was not right with my adrenals and she offered me supplements to assist me. She was the one who took blood tests which indicated my thyroid malfunction, and initiated my diagnosis and treatment. My general practitioner, or physician, sent me to a surgeon when she saw the blood test results. The surgeon, having no place to treat an imbalance of hormones in the first place, completely ignored the adrenal function, as if it were totally irrelevant. Not only did he do me a great disservice, but so did the physician who referred me to him.

The doctor doing the talk said, multiple times, that it’s imperative not to treat the thyroid malfunction before addressing the adrenals. That’s exactly what the surgeon did and it took me a year to find the correct practitioner: my endocrinologist. A year after my burnout, I began treatment on the adrenal glands. The speaker also said that the typical recovery period is one to two years, depending on the severity. I took three years to recover. My adrenal function was on the lowest possible reading of the blood tests, after a year of rest at home with  no work and minimal exertion. That told me that the first year of treatment, with the surgeon was ineffective. He may have slowed down my thyroid but he messed up treatment of the larger issue.

I’m not an overly emotional person, but at that talk tears were rolling down my cheeks. I felt heartbroken. I felt cheated and robbed out of a year of my life. And all because of the uninformed actions of medical doctors I put my faith in. If only they knew how incorrect their actions were. If only they knew how they impacted my life, my family and my ability to earn income. My recovery was delayed a year because of the actions of these two people, who simply carry on with their lives in ignorance.

The surgeon was very arrogant. He treated me with disdain when I asked questions about diet. He belittled me for researching possible diagnoses online when my whole life was collapsing and I had to wait for an appointment for six weeks. Frankly, I want to work with a doctor who wants me to be empowered. I’m the one living with my body and health. I’m the only one who knows how bad I’m feeling. I’m so glad I found a doctor who works in collaboration with me, making suggestions and sharing research with me to help me to be healthier.


In trying to process this information, I kept telling myself that I needed that extra year. I wrote my book, I researched how to recover and I learnt a great deal. I changed my life in the process and perhaps I needed the full three years for that. But I still found it very hard to accept.I wanted to lash out and tell them what they had done and ask them why they took a year from us. I still feel angry and frustrated at the broken medical profession in this regard. I get so upset to think about the many people currently being bounced around or treated incorrectly, not knowing that there’s a better way.

If you have a serious medical condition, please make sure you are seeing the right kind of specialist. Also ensure that they have the attitude of supporting and empowering you to be well by a variety of interventions: medication, lifestyle, diet, exercise and supplements. If you have doubts or questions, getting a second opinion is always a good idea.

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I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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