Wednesday, November 20, 2013

City of Angels

I encountered at least two angels during my trip to Los Angeles over the weekend. I was so excited to embark on this adventure as I had never been further west in America than Las Vegas.
Before Saturday night, I had never dipped a toe in the Pacific Ocean.
I made so many mental plans for this getaway. My friend (and first angel), Olivia, attends the University of Southern California and we talked of hiking to the Hollywood sign, going to Venice Beach, and venturing to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, among other touristy activities.
Unfortunately, Addison's Disease had other, less fun plans, for my first 24 hours in Los Angeles. 
I started feeling uncomfortable during my original flight to Phoenix on Friday morning. I typically do not have any sort of motion sickness on airplanes so I was surprised when a few waves of nausea overcame me on the plane ride. I attributed them to an inadequate breakfast and fueled up on my layover with a chicken Caesar salad, hoping to combat my ill feelings. 
I boarded the plane to LAX with high hopes and still-shaky stomach. I tried to close my eyes and sleep and managed to catch a few winks before landing in LA where my nausea reached new heights on the shuttle to USC and the contents of my stomach found a new low on the floorboard of the vehicle. 
A very sweet lady passed me tissues and a handkerchief as I valiantly tried to clean the disaster.
After arriving at Olivia's dorm, I threw up twice more and enlisted her pre-med degree skills in administering my emergency injection of Solu-Cortef. This was the first time I've had to use it in my 2.5 years of diagnosis with Addison's Disease.
It is recommended to get to an emergency room after receiving the emergency injection, but I stubbornly wanted to avoid the LA ER scene, if at all possible. Can anyone blame me?
I resigned myself to a Friday night in, a huge concession for my inner adventurer, and focused on being revived enough to explore Los Angeles in the morning. 
But I vomited three more times that evening, even after getting a prescription for Phenergan, an anti-nausea drug. 
The ER was the only remaining option for a healthy me. 
I despise when this disease gets the best of me and my plans. I hate when unavoidable stress enters into my life uninvited and my body is ill-equipped to deal with its presence. 
In a normal, cortisol-producing adult, stressful situations come along, like they do in my life, but the adrenal glands are healthy and dispense proper levels of cortisol to regulate a high-strung scenario. In fact, many of you may not even notice the stressor because your adrenal glands communicate so well with your brain. Mine do not have this ability. The handicapped adrenal glands in my body do absolutely nothing productive for me. No amount of deep breathing exercises or admonitions to "calm down" can halt an adrenal crisis. 
So I took a taxi to the California Hospital Medical Center around 8 AM on Saturday morning. 
This makes ER trip #7 in my lifetime, for those counting. But this particular trip was my first alone, and good practice for me, for as much as I hope to not see another ER again, the odds of this disease are always against me. 
After passing through security and the metal detector at the hospital (LA, remember?), I waited to get a bed and some drugs. They were about two hours delayed, but when they delivered, they DELIVERED. I gladly received the bag of fluids Angel #2, Nurse Kristen, attached to the IV line, chock full of morphine, Protonix, Decadron, and Zofran. 
I was discharged around 1:30 PM, and after fulfilling my prescriptions to make sure this particular crisis had run it's course, Olivia and I prepared for the USC v. Stanford game. 
I had less than a day left of my LA adventure, but I filled it with a Trojan win, a trip downtown to eat at LA Live, and a Lyft ride to Santa Monica to take touristy pictures sans shame. 
The time I spent in the ER in Los Angeles was an unwelcome, unplanned hiccup, but I still met friendly strangers, I still spent quality time with a dear high school friend, and I still was able to see the Pacific Ocean for the very first time. 
Addison's Disease may slow me down sometimes. But it didn't stop a coast to coast bucket list item and it certainly won't pump the brakes on the rapidly approaching study abroad endeavor. 
A Very Lucky Girl cannot be stopped by a pesky DISEASE. 

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