Martha is one of our Helpline Operators who answer calls on our Patient Support and Information Helpline
A lot of the time I don’t really know how I got here. I have volunteered all my adult life in one way or another. Guiding, Scouting, charity, events, if I could help I happily did, all without having a clue what the pituitary gland was, or, how much my life would be turned upside down by what felt like a bunch of symptoms that were all in my head. I bet that’s not an unfamiliar feeling for many reading this. Then fast forward and here I am, a Helpline Volunteer for The Pituitary Foundation on my days off from work, and whenever I need to tell people in my life who do not know anything about the pit gland, cortisol or adrenal insufficiency, I have a whole routine including hand gestures.
In the run up to my op when I was technically undiagnosed, but we all had a pretty good idea of what it was, I needed to prove to myself I was ok still and I did two triathlons and a ‘Tough Mudder’. About a month after the Tough Mudder I reached the point where I could not walk up a slope. In hindsight I think they probably weren’t the best idea but sometimes when you need to get back in control you do some strange things, plus I had a lot of cortisol running through me.
Withdrawal from the high cortisol was almost harder than the run up to the operation as I was focused on getting the op into the calendar and just getting through it whereas withdrawal left me incredibly lonely with no immediate family / friends really understanding what was happening, especially as I looked fine. The Foundation and their support helped then too – just knowing others have been through what you have been through and that whilst it takes time it will ease and lift, and it will be better. For me I watched tv and did a lot of puzzles as they gave me something to do without it being too much or mattering if I took 20 minutes to put in one piece, each bit bringing satisfaction.
Once that ease came I wondered what to do to return the help I’d had, I had worked with my workplace to change from fulltime hours to flexible hours that allowed me Friday off – so I could recover before the weekend rather than use the weekend to recover – after a time those Fridays were working well so I decided to volunteer. Now we are a year down the line, and I love it. You never know what each phone call will be about and I am always clear that I am not a medically trained expert but I will listen and I will usually ‘get it’ and sometimes that is all that a person needs, it was what I needed when I rang. If more is needed that’s where The Foundations head office kicks in. An amazing group always doing what they can. I cannot wait until the next chance to meet with the team and all of you in person. I hope that isn’t too far off for us all.