Bruno’s Dog Blog Issue XL – “Living with Addison’s Disease – 1 Year Later”

Well, I can’t believe it, but it has been a whole year since my diagnosis with Addison’s disease, or hypoadrenocorticism. You may remember that last year in early October, I became ill, stopped eating and was very lethargic. Mom ran some blood tests on me and diagnosed me with a disease called hypoadrenocorticism or Addison’s disease.

Addison’s disease is an endocrine disorder in which the adrenal glands are not making enough hormones, specifically, cortisol and aldosterone. These hormones are important in the stress response and regulate a variety of body functions, including fluid and electrolyte balance. The adrenal glands are two small organs located near each kidney. Typical symptoms of Addison’s disease are lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle weakness. These signs may wax and wane making diagnosis difficult. Fun fact, former President John F. Kennedy also suffered from Addison’s disease!

Last year during my initial crisis, my immediate treatment included intravenous fluid support to normalize my electrolytes and stabilize my blood pressure. Mom started me on the medication that treats Addison’s disease, called DOCP (Desoxycorticosterone Pivalate more commonly known by the trade name, Percorten) and of course a heavy dose of steroids. I was on intravenous fluids for three days and was getting a ton of additional medications to help support me through the crisis. Slowly but surely I was improving each and every day.

Over the following three days, I continued my intensive treatment both in the hospital and at home. Mom was able to transition me onto oral medications once I started eating again. She told me that a diagnosis of Addison’s disease is this is the best of the worst news because Addison’s disease is treatable and I can go onto live a completely normal life. Although it would require me to take medications for the rest of my life to manage the disease, at least it would not affect my lifespan.

Since the initial crisis, I have been doing really well! I have been getting prednisone every day and I get an injection of DOCP every 35 days now. The injection of the DOCP (Percorten) helps to regulate my electrolytes since my body can’t and the prednisone replaces my normal, physiologic cortisol that my body isn’t able to produce on its own anymore. Mom has been checking my blood work on a regular basis to monitor my body’s response to the medications and make sure that I am getting the appropriate dose and frequency of each. Over the past year she has been able to reduce the dose of both my DOCP and my prednisone and stretch out the interval between my injections from every 25 days to every 35 days.

So, I really can’t complain, I have been happy and healthy for the past year! No broken toes or other bones to report (unlike last year if you remember the saga of my broken toe and having to wear a splint for 12 weeks) and no Addisonian crises to speak of! All in all, a good year if you ask me, all thanks to my Mom’s expert care and the kind and attentive staff of Sheridan Animal Hospital nursing me back to health. Thanks everyone!

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