I’m pretty annoyed about this, because I was doing reasonably well beforehand. I’d been bragging about how I’d got a cold and hadn’t ended up in hospital! That never happens! And I’d been managing well on my baseline at the same time, which also never happens. I was feeling like all my hard work was paying off.
But that kind of goes to show how volatile adrenal insufficiency is. Because I’d had a cold, I’d been doing my BP, HR, temperature and blood sugar readings every day properly, just to be sure. Normally I only do them if I feel weird. So I knew in the morning I was fine numbers wise. I needed to go the post office counter in the pharmacy so I went over the road on my scooter because I didn’t want to push my luck too much- I had a cold after all, I didn’t need to exacerbate things by overdoing it.
Then it started to go wrong. The post office employee was decidedly not friendly and was really rude from the get go. Long story short, he expected me to be a mind reader and know how he specifically wanted something doing, which I agreed to do for him next time, and asked him politely to do it the other way this time. Instead of just agreeing back, he kept lecturing me about it, wouldn’t give me my post back so I could do what he wanted and try again, but equally wouldn’t let me pay for it. He got progressively more and more rude and shouted at me until other staff intervened and he still wouldn’t do it.
Basically, he was just being awkward. My point was a more polite version of ‘give me my post back, or let me pay for it, but either way stop going on about it’. Annoying, right? The normal human body sets off a series of reactions when you start to get irritated or angry. Your fight or flight system gets triggered, flooding your system with many chemicals including cortisol and adrenaline, which makes your heart rate increase and your senses heighten. You might feel a bit shaky or wired up. In doing so, your body starts to divert energy away from ‘background’ stuff like digesting your food or fighting off your cold and puts it into gearing up for a fight. Or because my body doesn’t function very well to start with, my background things were standing up, having a conversation and trying to avoid my temperature going up because I was wearing a coat indoors.
I started sweating and shaking and feeling like I was going to pass out and kept saying I needed him to finish because I was struggling. I rested my arms and my head on the counter and he still ploughed on with his rant. Eventually I couldn’t cope anymore so I walked over to the chairs, sat down and promptly burst into tears. Which might seem like an overreaction, but by now I had the same amount of hormones zipping around me uncontrollably as a woman in active labour has. And it was either cry or pass out. Still not getting the point, he kept shouting at me because I hadn’t paid and I kept saying he needed to leave me alone.
I use the pharmacy as a place to do my rehab and physio. Sometimes I walk, sit and rest, sometimes I scooter, sit and rest. They all know I do that. It means I don’t isolate myself, it helps my physical health and it’s a ‘safe’ place to do it since people in there know me and can help me medically if it all goes wrong.
Which it did! One of the pharmacists stepped in, told him to back off and sat with me while I tried taking oral hydrocortisone. It didn’t do a lot. We went into a treatment room and checked my blood pressure which was ridiculously high so I took some more. We waited a bit longer and my BP and heart rate were still high so I rang 999 and injected. Nothing I did made it go down.
The paramedics arrived and we went to hospital. After another 200mg of IV HC, things started going back down to a bit more normal. But I was kept in overnight to make sure I didn’t have a lurking infection and because things weren’t quite right even if they’d improved.
It’s a week later and I’m still feeling the aftermath of this. All because some bloke was having a bad day and wanted to put his irritation onto me. I had 400mg HC total which I shouldn’t have needed, I had to spend a night in hospital and got little sleep, I have to taper my oral dose… But also, from a mental point of view, the pharmacy isn’t a ‘safe’ place anymore for me to work on my health. It took me a week to go back there and I was so anxious about it. But who wouldn’t be, after being berated in public, shouted at for doing nothing wrong and crying in public? Not to mention calling an ambulance, dangerously high blood pressure and a trip to hospital.
It’s annoying because I can do everything in my power to keep on top of my illness but something someone else does can ruin all my hard work in seconds. I mean, I could just stay at home in my own bubble all the time, but that’s not living! Even without my medical condition, his behaviour was out of line though. And that’s what I find most frustrating about it. I’m really good at managing my illness and ‘predicting’ what might go wrong and mitigating against that. But there’s absolutely no way that I could have predicted going to the post office, doing something I’ve been doing most days for months with the same employee was going to end in blue lights and hospital.
How could it have ended better for me? If he’d not been shouting at me, which I don’t think is ever ok in customer roles anyway. If he’d listened to me when I’d said I was struggling. If he’d controlled his stress response even a fraction so as to avoid triggering my broken one into a meltdown. All things which were in his power to do, had he shown any kind of level of human compassion. I can do everything I can to keep myself as healthy as I can. But I can’t do anything about other people being idiots.
Oh, and if you were wondering, I did what the grumpy post office man told me to do and 2 of his colleagues have since told me that my original way was fine and that the grumpy man was just making a deal out of nothing. But you know, it’s not like his strop was damaging for my health or anything *rolls eyes*