Warning: this post will mostly be about saliva

But I’ll try to make it funny to make up for that…

Today I decided to do an adrenal hormone profile, in my quest to find out what is wrong with me, which sounds like sitting down and answering some thorough questions about your energy levels.  Or perhaps what might be listed on the side of a free-range chicken… this chicken has a GMO-free adrenal hormone profile!  In actual fact, it involves spitting 5mls of saliva into test tubes at four clearly designated times across the day with a specific protocol and once you’ve started the day you can’t stop, no matter where you are when the time comes.  Even the Zoo.  Yes, I was at the Zoo.

The test is to determine hormone levels that are thought to be more specific in the saliva than the blood.  You’ve probably heard (or read a Facebook post) about adrenal fatigue?  I never thought it was a thing, but now my latest doctor is testing me for this thing, at great expense and inconvenience to me.

Like chronic fatigue it’s not a diagnosis i.e. I have adrenal fatigue and now I just take this tablet and I’m fine, but more like ok the hormones produced by your adrenal glands are probably not sufficient to keep your body ticking over nicely.  I’ve had my plasma cortisol levels tested and they were ‘normal’ but if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know ‘normal’ is a dirty word to me, anyway…

The first saliva production has to be completed between 6-8am before breakfast and without having eaten or had anything other than water overnight from 10pm.  You rinse your mouth out and spit away!  This morning at 7:30am, with my 4-year-old daughter eyeing me suspiciously – not knowing whether to laugh or feel insulted that she didn’t get her own test tube – I struggled to produce enough.  They only want saliva from the front of your mouth or under your tongue.  You know the sensation when you’re starving hungry and you smell something yummy cooking?  The flood of liquid around your tongue, that’s the stuff they want – no loogy’s from the back of your throat or chunks of phlegm you’ve coughed up thanks.

The pack suggests you relax, sit quietly for a few minutes and let the saliva accumulate in your mouth.  Mmmmmm nice.  I did try sticking a thermometer under my tongue because yesterday that had produced the drooly mouth feeling, but it was harder going this morning.

Eventually it took me about 15 minutes to produce 5mls of saliva and fill the rest of the tube with bubbles.  I’m forever blowing bubbles kept running through my head.  It is surprisingly hard to spit into a small tube of less than 5 centimetres diameter.  And here’s a tip – don’t cover the opening with your mouth entirely, you’ll end up working against your own suction to spit the spit out!

One of the reasons I chose today to start my hormone profile was because I’d planned to spend it relaxing at home with my daughter, but as soon as she woke up she began badgering me to go to the Zoo.  It’s her reward for achieving stars on her fruit and veggie chart.  So against my better judgment, I agreed.  Anyone with a fatigue related illness will understand that some days when the sun is shining, and the opportunity is there, you just throw your whole carefully planned energy expenditure out the window and think ‘fuck it, I might be dead tomorrow and I’m sick of staying in!’  And so that’s what we did.  And anyone with a 4-year-old will know there is no sticking to a schedule in getting them to leave the Zoo on time.

Around rolls midday and I know I’ve got to spit into my next tube but I’m wondering where to do it?  With enough time we could have raced back to the car but I didn’t relish the thought of making my daughter sit there for 15 minutes or trying to drive home with one hand on a test tube, so I headed for the toilets.  Spitting into a test tube felt vaguely like a bodily function and although it wouldn’t require any disrobing, felt weird to do it in the open.  However, Adelaide Zoo has the unique set up of a cage full of galahs and cockatoos linked up to the bathrooms, so with their comments coming from above it really wasn’t a relaxing spot to spit.

Having missed morning tea while feeding the quokkas my daughter started to complain about being hungry and she’s getting smart too.  When I asked her to wait, she said to me, but mummy I can’t stop being hungry!  So I needed to get this done and done fast and nearby was the rotunda and grassy area, filled with families.  It’s quite likely there’ll be babies being breast fed there I think to myself, or kids eating grass.  Families are forgiving, surely no-one will mind if I spit into this test tube?  It felt too weird however so we found a dark corner of the rotunda where I could face away from everyone.  I bribed my daughter with my iPhone and out came the test tube.  I resolved not to make eye contact with anyone.  If they saw me, I didn’t want to have to make the face that says ‘Hey there!  I’m not dodgy, just spittin’ in a tube over here’.  It took less time than the morning session but was still an excruciatingly long time, especially when someone walked close by and I let my hand sink to my side, like some sort of drug addict hiding their fix.  It was a test tube for gods sake!  I was determined to push as much spit out of my mouth as possible and get outta there!  Number 2 done.  No bodily function involved.

By the time I got to the third tube at 6pm, I felt like a pro.  I walked around the house sweeping up whilst spitting in the tube at the same time.  It was easy!  Like Pavlov’s dogs – who were trained to salivate on demand by the ringing of a bell associated with being fed – I found even thinking about the process made my mouth fill with spit.  Even writing now, my mouth is filling up with saliva.  I only have to think about this morning and it flows away.  Glorious.  I almost want a second day of tests so I can improve my result.  I like to think of those lucky lab technicians commenting on my good looking saliva.  Maybe not.

So now I only have Number 4 to complete and for that I have to wait until 10pm tonight.  After a day of throwing caution to the wind, I am absolutely knackered and wishing I could be in bed before 10pm but if I did that, my day of pro-spitting would have to be re-started and I don’t think I have enough test tubes left over or energy and focus to complete the task.  This test costs over $200 and detects the presence or absence of something that medicine is not even convinced has any meaning.  I feel like my profile will come back like a primary school report card with the words:

Sometimes confused, her adrenal glands try very hard, not always with the correct result.  Some time spent revising on topics of concern would be beneficial and being less prone to flights of fancy will produce better results.

I’ve never talked so much about saliva at any one time in my life.  I’m sorry if you got more than you bargained for by reading this, not least a mouth full of your own accumulated spit.  You were warned!





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