Does a Diagnosis Change Who I Am?

Mina Samuels
7 min readSep 6, 2023
by Dave Lowe, on unsplash

Two months after an emergency visit to the hospital for 3 days (which I wrote about here), I’ve finally been diagnosed. I have Addison’s Disease. So, not enough for me to have a name for what ails me. It has to declare itself a disease. That causes a lot of dis-ease for me. There’s a strand of thinking that says we are empowered once we are diagnosed. Along the lines: Knowledge is power. Now you know what you’re dealing with. And that classic marketing tag line: If it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed. With a diagnosis, I’m in measurable territory. There’s a map. I can manage.

I should be relieved.

Instead, I feel defeated. I’m not yet able to accept that the price of staying alive is medication for the rest of my life. Before, when my condition was nameless, I could imagine it being easily solved by the integrative medicine protocol that I undertook with great optimism. In fact, the calculated risk I took in going off of the prescribed conventional medications did not, at least in the short term, work out. I had imagined myself proudly declaring to my medical doctors that I’d been off the medication and wasn’t my healing capacity amazing. Instead, I ended up with blood work results that clearly indicated my body spiraling toward another emergency visit. I could feel the deterioration happening. The exhaustion coming back. Instead of my smug satisfaction with the medical doctors, I was contrite, owning up to my infidelity to their recommendations. As the endocrinologist said, I can’t impress on you enough how important it is that you take these medications seriously, if you want to stay alive.

I do. Want to stay alive.

Most days.

My energy rebounded quickly after getting back to the recommended protocol. And, I feel ridiculously fragile. Death accompanies me everywhere. Sure, I know in that mindfulness way that, I could die at any moment. Now this consciousness is not about mindfulness, it’s the knowledge that if I stop putting these little pills in my body three times a day, then my heart will quit. Some days, I hold the pill in my hand and toy with the idea of not taking it, of letting nature take its course.

I wonder if my vitality even counts anymore. My energy is so much a part of my identity. If it’s not real, am I a fake? Who…

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Mina Samuels

Writer. Performer. Citizen. Traveler. Enthusiast. Author of Run Like a Girl 365 Days A Year and other books. www.minasamuels.com