April’s Story

My health declined for 12 months before I was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease.

It started slowly, and doctors told me I needed more sleep, that I’m just run down. I lost the ability to stand up for a whole work shift and to keep down full meals. Slowly, my health deteriorated until I could barely eat anything and I struggled to walk just to the bathroom.

I finally got a doctor to take me seriously and I was given a blood test. When I went back to get the results, the doctor sent me straight to the hospital with a note. At the hospital, I was taken straight through without waiting at all and connected to all these cords. After a few hours, a doctor came down and took one look at the colour of my skin and said: “I think you have Addison’s Disease.”

From there, I spent a week in hospital to be properly diagnosed and treated and then, I was sent on my way. It took me a long time to adjust to life with this diagnosis. I still don’t know everything and sometimes that can be scary as it is a life threatening chronic illness. Day to day, I take medication and get on with my life, but I have to be careful not to use too much energy and not to catch any illnesses from other people. One bout of gastro could kill me.

It has been over five years now so mostly, I have my health management under control but there are side effects to the medication I take. I’m constantly battling against weight gain caused by increased appetite and am unpredictable at work due to illness and being run down.

Addison’s Disease also puts me at greater risk of bone issues later in life so I have to be extra careful to get enough calcium and vitamin D and do weight bearing exercises. I am also more susceptible to other autoimmune diseases now that I already have one so my blood is taken regularly to test for diabetes and thyroid function.

Sometimes, people think I’m being lazy or unreliable when I can’t do things because I look well — they don’t realise how much of an impact this rare disease has on my life. But I have a very supportive partner and workplace, which gives me all the support I need to continue living my life the way I want to.