After a long struggle, the patient is doing fairly well. The cognitive improvements have been superb. But the fatigue and lack of endurance have recently been unbearable. The fatigue has improved and worsened in fits and starts. Recently, she has pushed herself just a little too much; rebound fatigue with no endurance became unbearable. No reserves.
Long term intravenous antibiotics, 7 months and counting, have worked great. For three months, IV Flagyl as mono-therapy has been effective.
Despite normal lab studies, I clinically diagnosed adrenal fatigue. I treated her with Cortef and Florinef with a very positive result. Fatigue and energy much improved.
She has a history of very clear cardiac Lyme and has a permanent pacemaker. Her cardiologist has been carefully adjusting the pacemaker, recently increasing the top heart rate. The increased heart rate allowed with exercise seems to have helped as well.
POTS cannot be easily diagnosed. Her heart rate, recent exam, decreased with standing rather than vice-versa expected with POTS.
Surprising, at our last visit she reported relief in other symptoms. Her face was oily for the first time in more than a year (under autonomic/sympathetic control). A sensation of incomplete bladder emptying resolved (under autonomic/parasympathetic control) control. The sensation of hot/cold temperature dysregulation improved. These are POTS symptoms, not generally considered adrenal fatigue symptoms.
I prescribed Florinef, a mineralcorticoid analogue of aldosterone made by the adrenals for the treatment of Adrenal fatigue. This hormone is widely prescribed for POTS because it increases salt and water retention helping with postural dizziness. A strictly symptomatic therapy. In this case it was prescribed for adrenal fatigue, not POTS.
Adrenal fatigue patients describe salt cravings. Perhaps this is due to adrenal/aldosterone dysfunction.
My treatment of adrenal dysfunction seemed to improve dysautonomia. An unexpected outcome.
She also started taking Ritalin again which has been very helpful for fatigue. Many clinicians prescribe Provigil/Nuvigil for fatigue. Ritalin usually works the same but is much more affordable.
Stimulants like Ritalin/Adderall, augment the effects of dopamine and norepinephrine. Adrenal insufficiency is associated with decreased norepinephrine excretion - stress hormones.
Taking Ritalin hopefully does not make adrenal fatigue worse. Like cortisol, it may take pressure off a mis-firing adrenal system. Anyway, it helps.
Improvements of symptoms and function hopefully help the overall healing process.
Too much stimulant may have a negative effect causing dependence - decreased endogenous neuro-transmitter function.
It is all complicated and outside the box, but working for this heretofore desperate and hopeless patient.