Rewriting the Fairy-Tale of Addison’s and the Magic Pill

The Classic Fairy-Tale of the Magic Pills

Once upon a time there was a healthy young women who liked to help others and dance. One day she noticed that she was getting tired very easily, was sleeping all of the time and her skin had turned bronze. Everyone thought that she looked very healthy. “What a lovely tan you have” they all said.

But a niggling doubt gnawed at her. “I don’t feel right”, she thought. So the young woman set out to discover what was wrong. She visited many wise people. One said she was a woman doing too much and told her to slow down. Another told her that more iron was necessary for her constitution. But most commonly, she was told nothing appeared to be wrong with her at all.

Then she lost her appetite and started shrinking. “You look great, you’ve lost so much weight, what’s your secret?” everyone said. Still the doubt remained.

The young woman was right to doubt. Though on the outside she appeared to be the glowing, skinny embodiment of female health, on the inside her body was slowly destroying itself; permanently damaging her internal organs. She had multiple autoimmune diseases.

Eventually the young woman barely had enough strength to stand-up and she turned sickly-looking on the outside. She visited once more with her regular wise old woman who finally, after 18 months of visits, exclaimed “you don’t look right!” And sent her for tests. Whilst awaiting the results, the young woman’s body started shutting down and she was quickly taken to the infirmary.

At her bedside, the young woman was visited by Marvelous Man (endocrinologist #1). He told her that she had a rare disease which caused her body to no longer make enough cortisol to stay alive. “You’re lucky though”, he told her, “we can replace it with magic pills. You’ll take one magic pill a day and feel better than you have in a decade. All of your symptoms will magically go away.”.

The young woman returned home, took the magic pills, danced every day, and lived happily ever after.


The Alternate, “Bloody Marvelous” Ending

Except that’s not actually what happened. Please scrub out that last sentence with a black marker and replace with this ending –

On returning home and looking at the scrolls given to her by Marvellous Man, the young woman discovered that the “one pill a day” was actually two different pills (hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone) taken a minimum of twice a day. In order to work their full magic, the magic pills needed to be taken at certain times of the day, with food and not with certain other pills.

“Well that’s just marvelous fun”, she thought rather sarcastically.

On re-visiting Marvelous Man, he prophesied great danger in the young woman’s future. Should she encounter high stress, the young woman could ward off sickness by taking extra magic pills. Marvelous Man also handed her a scroll containing the instructions to build a liquid magic pills injection device. “I give this too you to keep you safe during times of injury, furious fever or unrelenting vomiting,” he gravely explained, “carry it with you at all times.”


“I caution you though child,” Marvelous Man continued seriously, “do not be tempted by the magic of the magic pills. Take too many and they’ll eat your eyes, your stomach and your bones. They’ll turn you fat and ugly. They’ll give you diabetes. They’ll turn you manic. For the magic pills are steroids!”

“How bloody marvelous,” the young woman thought to herself on her journey home, “are the magic pills a double-edged sword or a wolf in sheep’s clothing?”

The young woman fought hard to stay alive. She took the magic pills up to 4 times a day and always on time. She carried an injection kit everywhere in case of emergencies. She took extra magic pills when experiencing stress to avoid dying. She lived happily for a good while.


The Director’s Cut

The cinematic release of the Magic Pills is incomplete, having been edited to suit a broader audience. The director, Charlie Park shot several hours of additional footage which provide a different interpretation of the ending. Here are those extra scenes –

On the fairy-tale treatment of 2 or 3 lots of magic pills each day the young woman’s body was infested with hideous symptoms-

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Shaking
  • Fatigue, weakness, malaise particularly after exercise
  • Diarrhea
  • Puffy ankles and face
  • Crying easily
  • Waking at 3am shaking, panicky and sick
  • Feeling hot and cold
  • Neck-aches
  • Feeling as though she was on the verge of unconsciousness
  • Weight gain

Returning once more to Marvelous Man, she sort help for the failure of the magic pills. But he simply retold the fairy-tale. “Everyone else feels better on the magic pills”, he said. He told the young woman to take fewer magic pills.

When the young woman took fewer magic pills [she tried 6 times to lower her daily dose of hydrocortisone from 30mg to 26mg per day], she felt like she was dying. She went to the infirmary twice to check that she wasn’t dying.

The young woman returned once more to Marvelous Man with a basket-full of ideas for making her feel better. It was “no” to taking more magic pills. It was “that’s unnecessary” to taking magic pills at night-time [spoiler: this would have helped her greatly]. It was “that’s a great idea” to taking a different kind of magic pill (the longer acting steroid prednisolone).

The young woman felt immediately better on the new magic pill. Marvelous Man said that she must have been allergic to the old one [spoiler: she wasn’t allergic]. The young woman finally returned to some of her old life.

Then she felt worse again.

So the young woman sort out a new Marvelous Man (endocrinologist #2). Like the old one, he recited the fairy-tale and told her to lose weight or else he would take away some of her magic pills. The young woman lost weight. She still felt worse. This Marvelous Man had run out of ideas.

The young woman journeyed across the land visiting all kinds of wise people. They poked and prodded her. Told her to eat strange diets, take herbs and perform exercise rituals. Little worked. Some things made her feel worse.

As a last resort, the young woman decided it was time to try searching for the fabled magic pump. Her Marvelous Man said he would not help her on her quest. A Marvelous Woman said she didn’t believe in the existence of the magic pump (endocrinologist #3). A team of Marvelous People suggested she visit a life-style clinic.

Desperate for help, the young woman penned a letter to the inventor of the magic pump asking for his help. He told the young woman of a Marvelous Man living in her town who believed in magic pumps (endocrinologist #4).

This Marvelous Man said that he gave the magic pump a 2% chance of making her feel better. She grabbed this slim chance with both hands and ran with it.

Here, on a cliff-hanger with the young woman still sick but full of hope is where I will leave her story for now. Look out for the stunning sequel in which our heroine turns cyborg in an effort to regain health, and a behind the scenes documentary that takes an in-depth look at the science behind the failed magic pills and the fabled magic pump.

To Be Continued…


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