Buckets and Streams: Learning the Cortisol Pump

The cortisol pump is changing lives, both patients and doctors are taking notice. As more people switch to cortisol pumping, I see more and more questions and confusion about programming the pump’s basal rates.

Cortisol Pumping requires a whole new way of thinking about your steroid dosing. Whatever dosing schedule or amount you were using with pills does not simply translate into the pump. The continuous method of delivery is so different you can’t really think of it in “doses” anymore. With cortisol pumping you program a set amount of units per hour in time blocks of your choosing, and your steroid is infused at that rate in continuous, tiny, drips. Your rates build on each other. With oral steroids, each pill is a separate dose. The dose you took at 7am doesn’t have any influence on the dose you take at noon, not so with the cortisol pump. Each delivery rate on each time block you program will affect the others. It’s an art really, knowing which times need which rates. Titrating your basal program is sort of like carving a sculpture. The sculpture you’re creating is your perfect cortisol peak. You mess up one part, and the whole sculpture is junk, but when you get it right, its a thing of beauty.

Another analogy I’ve been using a lot lately is about buckets and streams.

Wait, what does that have to do with cortisol pumping?

Okay, pretend you’re a fish, and you’re flopping around on the ground. Think of your pills as buckets of water (cortisol) that just get dumped on you from time to time throughout the day. It’s enough to keep the fish alive, but that’s no way for a fish to live. The pump is more like a stream. It keeps flowing and the water level gradually rises and lowers based on your basal program. You could, in theory, measure all the water in that stream. You could put it in buckets and keep dumping them on the fish as it flops in the dry creek bed, but its not the same. The fish is still going to do much better living in the stream.

What I’m saying is, buckets and the stream are not equal, and neither are pills and the pump. I think new pumpers sometimes set themselves up for frustration when they apply conventional wisdom of oral steroids to cortisol pumping.

To read more about my adventures in pumping follow me at Cortisol Musings!

Do you think you can cure me?

A powerful post by Adrenal Alternatives Contributor: Michelle Barker who bravely battles incurable cancer along with adrenal insufficiency.

It’s happened to all of us. Even the non-chronically ill. Someone has suggested a sketchy miracle cure. Maybe they told you eating ‘healthy’ or going organic would have prevented or fixed your condition and will save you from taking your medications?

Why is this so frustrating? Their heart is in the right place is it not? What’s the problem?

When you tell me eating vegetables or a certain trendy food would prevent my condition, it insinuates that my choices have caused my condition and all of the resulting health problems. That if only I had an organic farm and bought a juicer I’d be cancer and ‘pharma’ free.

My cancer is genetic. I could not prevent it, and all of the organic vegetables in the world will not cure it. That’s not really how cancer works. You can’t just throw ‘healthy stuff’ at cancer and make it go away. Individual cancers behave differently and the mechanisms of their growth and death need to be understood on the cellular level for best treatment. No amount of kelp will do that.

Of course, a healthy lifestyle is a benefit to anyone with or without a medical condition, but should not be used in place of treatment. Many of the miracle stories you read about conveniently leave out the part where their “natural miracle cure” also involved some surgery, chemo, and/or radiation. That doesn’t get as many facebook likes now does it? These stories are dangerous misinformation. Please stop sharing them.

Next, can we please stop judging people who have to take medications?

This implies I’ve failed some how because my life depends on medication. I would so love to toss all of my pills into the trash. That would be a dream, but guess what? I’d die. I’d suffer greatly, and die shortly thereafter. I cannot trade my medications for coconut oil or anything else on a grocery store shelf (or farm.) Maybe I am a slave to ‘big pharma.’ I like living though. I’ve got a family, so I’ll keep taking my meds and keep living as long as I can. For me, that means meds forever, and I’m okay with that.

I value and protect my health. I do appreciate your concern for me. Cancer isn’t fun, adrenal disease isn’t either and I know you want to help.

I want there to be a miracle cure too, but rather than cling to false hope, I will keep using treatments that are proven effective. I’d rather not hear any more cures. Instead let’s talk about enjoying life, savoring the moment. That’s the real way you “beat cancer.” One breath, one day at a time.

Do You Think You Can Cure Me?

It’s happened to all of us. Even the non-chronically ill. Someone has suggested a sketchy miracle cure. Maybe they told you eating ‘healthy’ or going organic would have prevented or fixed your condition and will save you from taking your medications?

Why is this so frustrating? Their heart is in the right place is it not? What’s the problem?

When you tell me eating vegetables or a certain trendy food would prevent my condition, it insinuates that my choices have caused my condition and all of the resulting health problems. That if only I had an organic farm and bought a juicer I’d be cancer and ‘pharma’ free.

My cancer is genetic. I could not prevent it, and all of the organic vegetables in the world will not cure it. That’s not really how cancer works. You can’t just throw ‘healthy stuff’ at cancer and make it go away. Individual cancers behave differently and the mechanisms of their growth and death need to be understood on the cellular level for best treatment. No amount of kelp will do that.

Of course, a healthy lifestyle is a benefit to anyone with or without a medical condition, but should not be used in place of treatment. Many of the miracle stories you read about conveniently leave out the part where their “natural miracle cure” also involved some surgery, chemo, and/or radiation. That doesn’t get as many facebook likes now does it? These stories are dangerous misinformation. Please stop sharing them.

Next, can we please stop judging people who have to take medications? This implies I’ve failed some how because my life depends on medication. I would so love to toss all of my pills into the trash. That would be a dream, but guess what? I’d die. I’d suffer greatly, and die shortly thereafter. I cannot trade my medications for coconut oil or anything else on a grocery store shelf (or farm.) Maybe I am a slave to ‘big pharma.’ I like living though. I’ve got a family, so I’ll keep taking my meds and keep living as long as I can. For me, that means meds forever, and I’m okay with that.

I value and protect my health. I do appreciate your concern for me. Cancer isn’t fun, and you want to help. I want there to be a miracle cure too, but rather than cling to false hope, I will keep using treatments that are proven effective. I’d rather not hear any more cures. Instead let’s talk about enjoying life, savoring the moment. That’s the real way you “beat cancer.” One breath, one day at a time.