Support for Those Living with Adrenal Insufficiency

Addie’s Adrenal Crisis

Addie’s Adrenal Crisis

addieMy 5 year old daughter Addie has been adrenal insufficient since birth.

Not long ago Addie had been playing all day acting fine, then that evening about 6:00 p.m. she started to complain of a small bellyache.
I never thought anything about it because she frequently uses this for attention!  An hour later I caught her grabbing her belly and whining, by 8:00 p.m. she was sick to her stomach.

The vomiting at first wasn’t that bad, but her father and I decided to go ahead and “stress dose” her by doubling her medications.  She was getting sick about every 30 mins or so, but was able to drink small amounts of water so I wasn’t to concerned.  I thought it was a normal flubug!

We gave her regular nighttime meds at 8:00 and within minutes she  threw them up.  Since she hadn’t kept them down long enough I told my husband that we’d need to give her the doses again.  We did that and she kept them down for 40 minutes and called our pediatrician to make sure 40 minutes was long enough.  By then it was 9:00 p.m.  Our night was a long,long night!!  Addie’s flu got worse and she was up every 15-20 minutes getting sick to her stomach.  Each time after being sick Addie would take sips of water to prevent dehydration.  She would talk a little bit and looked terrible, but I thought is from being so tired.  Finally, at 5:00 a.m. she stopped getting sick and I though to myself, oh thank goodness..its finally stopped!!  I laid down in her bed beside her and she fell asleep almost immediately.  I though poor little thing, she’s simply exhausted, and I stayed beside her just in case she woke up.

At about 6:30 a.m. I woke up to check on her, and when I looked at her I thought to myself..oh goodness, she doesn’t look good, I better check on her!  I  whispered in her ear, “Addie, are you ok?”, no reply. My heart skipped a beat because she is usually a very light sleeper.  I shook her and yelled, “Addie, wake up!”  When I shook her, she was completely limp.  I yelled for my husband, I knew what was wrong.  She was in full adrenal crisis.  She was completely unresponsive and wasn’t answering to her name, but I could feel her breathing and felt her pulse.  I told my husband to hand her pills to me, I placed them in her mouth and they fell out.  Then I told my husband get the shot ready, call the hospital, and alert them to what was going on so they would be prepared!!

We gave her the Solu-Cortef injection, and she didn’t even flinch.  That was another sign that she was worse then I thought.  My husband sat with her talking to her while I called 911.  I told them my daughter is Adrenal Insufficient, was completely unconscious and needed Solu-Cortef administered by IV.  I told them that we had just given her an injection with no response whatsoever.

It’s a parents worst fear finding your child like this.  It’s something we know can happen, and need to be prepared for at all times, this is possible!!  The paramedics from Indiana University Bedford Medical Group were fantastic!  All of Addie’s information was pulled up before getting to our house, they knew all her history and had everything with them that they needed!  They then took her to the hospital to try to stabilize her, but she had still not regained consciousness, and by the time we arrived at the hospital the doctors confirmed that she was in full adrenal crisis.  Although Addie had been not had a fever at home she developed one while she was sleeping and was burning up.  Her doctors believed that the fever had caused the adrenal crisis and were very concerned that even a stress dose, and IV was not creating any response.  Addie was life flighted to Riley Children’s Hospital.  Everything happened so fast!  I never knew I could make a 2 hour trip with 7 inches of snow in less then an hour.  When we arrived at the hospital, Addie was already there, and had two different IVs in her, but she was still unresponsive.  Her heart rate was 17 when she arrived and I counted 5 doctors in the room working on her.  It’s very overwhelming standing back and seeing doctors working on your child and being unable to do anything to help.  It was close to 9:00 am now, almost an hour and a half since I had found her unresponsive.

Finally, they got her vitals stable, her sugar was very low so she was given dose of glucose.  She moved a little, cracked her eyes and whimpered, but that was all.  The doctors kept reassuring me that her body was completely exhausted due to this crisis, and that was why she wasn’t responding.  They kept an IV of Solu-Cortef and glucose going and she continued to stabilize.

After ten more hours around 5:00 p.m.  she cracked open her little eyes, looked down at her IVs, two in one arm and one in the other and started crying.  I asked her, “Do you know where you are?” She said, “The hospital?”  I said, yes, “You’re at Riley Hospital, you’ve been really sick today, and they are going to make you better.”  She said, “I’m at Riley?”, I said. “Yes, why?”  She said, “I’m so hungry mama I wanna go to McDonald’s to get a cheeseburger.”

All the doctors started laughing, and I knew I had her back.  They kept her for 4 days for safety measures, but she’s doing great!  Still a little bit weak, but great.  As a mother of a two special needs children, you never know what’s going to happen.  As parents we must be prepared for the worse at all times.  Never second guess our child’s condition.  If we hadn’t given that injection and acted aggressive as we did, she would of died.

Chad and Jenny Terry

Note from AIU 

Chad and Jenny Terry live in a small town where hospital staff know the girls, understand their condtion, and know the necessary steps to save their girls.  This story should serve as a reminder to all of us, that as parents and affected adults, we need to take steps to ensure the EMS and ERs where we live understand how to identify and treat Adrenal Crisis.

Go to our Emergency Instructions page for your free downloads.

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250,000 Americans are diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency. 6,000,000 more are considered to be adrenal insufficient yet remain undiagnosed.

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