Conn’s Syndrome is a disease of the adrenal gland. My surgeon mentioned that when someone comes into her office with a bag full of high blood pressure medications that aren’t working, her first instinct is Conn’s.
The Primary Issue: In most cases a benign, but active tumor (sometimes more than one) develops on the adrenal gland. Sometimes hidden, sometimes not (adrenals are the consistency of scrambled eggs, with many folds and hiding spots). The tumor causes an overproduction of the aldosterone hormone, and a dropping of renins in the blood.
Secondary Issues: High blood pressure pops up due to this imbalance, and potassium levels drop. There is also more carbon dioxide in the blood.
Tertiary symptoms: Fatigue or depression, weight loss, etc., begin to show up. It may seem like adrenal fatigue but in this case it is not — nor is it caused by adrenal fatigue in the first place. The two issues are exact opposites. Adrenal fatigue or insufficiency would actually cause low blood pressure and high potassium in the blood. This is why you can rest more assured that an adrenalectomy is not going to ruin your health for life (as long as you are health conscious to an extent). Our adrenal glands are actually quite strong, and unlike the dangers of losing a kidney, and we can do JUST FINE with one.
Exploring tertiary symptoms:
- Exhaustion (especially morning/early afternoon, this is when the extra hormones usually flood the body)
- Restlessness at night (hormone levels subside and our body begins to kick back into motion, ready to do any desired activities for the day)
- Foggy Brain (due to the intense hormones, again)
- Extra Emotional/Edgy/Depressed/Anxious/Insecure
- Periods and Pregnancy are harder sometimes — high blood pressure and hormones are both to account for this
- Little or No motivation until exhaustion phase of day is over
At first, I tried medicine — a low dose of Spironolactone and Potassium. Overall I found myself worsening. Spironolactone often creates fatigue and other issues for people that are worse than just managing with lifestyle and food choices. The potassium was a huge benefit, however, and kept my energy levels up.
I also tried nutrition and lifestyle changes. They helped more than the medicine did for managing my day-to-day well-being, but it was like maintaining a race car every day; very hard to keep up with.
The main issue is that my blood pressure never, ever dropped and remained below 130/80. This is not good for the long term. The smallest stressor could easily spike me back up to 150/100. If I was really stressed, it got as high as 180/100 or worse. No amount of prayer, rest, food, anything could fix it.
At this point, surgery is in the works. It would be wonderful to wake up with no more foggy brain, exhaustion, and incurable nerves. This is one situation where high blood pressure can be brought down to normal. A disease that is curable… imagine that! My other options (nutrition, or meds) leave me high risk in future pregnancies and easily irritable with my family for the rest of my life. Not only that, but the long term effects of the disease on my heart and arteries — no thanks.
Here are a few things that have helped comfort me along the way.
- Prayer/meditation for emotional healing and encouragement
- Remembering that how I feel today is a physical issue, not a spiritual, mental or emotional one
- Asking others for help without expectations — there’s a fine line between being vulnerable and being codependent
- Things could be a lot worse… even though they could be better. Life Is Good and Worth Hanging In There Through This!
- No matter what the doctors/experts say, this is your body and it is up to you to do the research and make your own decisions. God is my ultimate Physician… if he chooses to heal me supernaturally, great. If he chooses to heal me through the wisdom and experience of doctors, so be it. I am so glad we have the option in today’s world!
- Trust God — He knows, He sees, and He is working to help you.
- Have grace for yourself about the effects of this illness on others (yes, your families & friends are hurt by it too, but it is not your fault)