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Robyn N (Robyn), Adrenal Bio

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A Golden Oldie

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Hi!  My name is Robyn and I am a 48 year old wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, 1st grade teacher and a recovering Cushing’s patient.

My story is so very similiar to the others on this site but because they helped me so tremendously, I felt that I needed to add my own.  Until I was 40 I was extremely healthy and extremeley thin (92-100lbs. on a 5ft. frame)  My menstrual cycle had been like clockwork.  I had normal periods every 26 days.  I had had no problem getting pregnant and was the proud mother of a daughter and a son.  I had never had PMS or pain with my periods.

This all changed around 40.  My periods started becoming very irregular, I had severe cramps, crazy PMS (my husband said it was like Linda Blair with her head spinning around), and heavy bleeding.  I was diagnosed with fibroid tumors.  Dealt with that with hormones but by the time I was 45 I had Premature Ovarian Failure and the pain had become incredible and the bleeding was almost to the hemorraging point.

I had a hysterectomy in July of 2007 (I was 45).  One month later in August of 2007) I was getting out of my bathtub, slipped and fell and broke my acetabulum (hip socket).  I spent 14 weeks non-weight bearing in bed and walking to the bathroom with a walker and in horrible pain until it was decided that I would have to have a total hip replacement.  It was another 9 months before I recovered from that.  By that time my weight had steadily increased.  I thought it was due menopause that I had gone through as a result of the hysterectomy and not being able to walk much less exercise in the last year and a half.

In December of 2008 I decided to have a tummy tuck and a breast reduction because of the weight gain.  In January of 2009, when I went for my post op appointment with my plastic surgeon, I was told that breast cancer had been found in the tissue removed in the reduction.

In March of 2009, I had a mastectomy.  At that time, the plastic surgeon started my reconstruction by putting in a tissue expander.  I had poor healing and all the incisions opened so I had the expander removed.  Since then my weight has increased dramatically.  I got the moon face, the red chest and neck, the buffalo hump and stomach that looks like you are 9 months pregnant.

During this time my primary care physician just left her practice with no forwarding address.  I waited for several months to see if she would resurface in another practice and when she didn’t I had my oncologist recommend another internist.  I saw her in Feb. 2010.  She asked me what my biggest complaint would be and I told her it would be my weight gain in my stomach and how my face and neck looked.

My mother has Multinodular adrenal hyperplasia and I told my doctor that my mother thought I had Cushings.  She told me she thought my mother was right.  She did blood tests and called me to tell me that my cortisol levels were sky high and that she was referring me to an endocrinologist.  She also had me do a 24 hour urine test and a 1mg. dexamethasone suppression test.  Both were indicative of Cushings.  The first time I saw Dr. Rolbands he looked at me and said I was a classic Cushings case and sent me for a CT scan.  I had the scan and I had a tumor in my left adrenal gland.  I went swiftly down hill with symptoms.  The leg pain and fatigue became overwhelming.

By the time I had my surgery, I could hardly walk across the room and my blood pressure was 168/110 taking 2 blood pressure medications.  I had my left adrenal gland taken out on June 29th, 2010.  I am now recovering.  Dr. Rolband is very pleased with my progress in 2 weeks.  My blood pressure was 90/70 and took me off one medication.  I have lost 6.1 lbs. and the pain in my legs had gone away.  All very positive.  I started weaning from the prednisone and that has not been pleasant.  I went from 10 mg. to 7.5 yesterday and I had diarrhea, nausea, body aches and pains.  I’m better than I was before the surgery but I’m ready to feel “normal” again.

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Dr. Dori, Pituitary Bio

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The author, Dori Middleman, M.D. is a child and adult psychiatrist in private practice in Merion, PA. She has a musician/conductor husband and two children. She was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor causing Cushing’s Disease in November of 2001.  This Golden Oldie was last updated 06/19/2008.

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December 28, 2002

Dr. Dori Middleman

HOW TO HAVE FUN WITH A BRAIN TUMOR

A Pituitary Party with a pituitary-shaped cake, complete with tumor of a different-colored icing, a pituitary hunt for the kids, a raffle to benefit the Wellness Community (a cancer support group), and a contest for the most creative object to be inserted inside my head in place of the removed pituitary tumor were ways in which I distracted myself from the terror of brain surgery. I hired a story-teller, who wrote pituitary stories. I bought the game, “Cranium”, to give as prizes for the winner of the replacement-object contest, and my caterer created pituitary-theme foods: pituitary pasta, cerebral cucumbers, and had a cauliflower simulating a brain decorating the table along with a scarecrow who displayed the sign, “If I only had a brain…”

My pituitary party invitation read:

As you may or may not know, I have been diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma, a small brain tumor, and am having surgery on April 3rd. I have decided that one thing you can do for me is help me have fun with my brain tumor. Traditionally, brain tumors have been viewed as undesirable, somewhat dreaded, and even potentially life-threatening. They’ve gotten a bum rap, in my opinion. I think they give life a purpose (survival with a few brains intact) and give their bearers something to talk about, but better yet, laugh about.

Dan Gottlieb, a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, in his April Fool’s column on the importance of not taking oneself too seriously, gave me and my party a notable mention, resulting in all of Philadelphia knowing about my surgery and many expressions of support and concern.
Indeed, contemplating death and disease is not the way I most enjoy spending my time, although I did a fair amount of that too. But throughout my illness and recovery, I have attempted to make the most of the cards I have been dealt.

Other health-promoting strategies I have used included:

regular mass e-mailings to my close friends to keep them apprised of how I was doing so they could best offer support;
contacting everyone I could think of for recommendations and information on doctors
finding and conversing with fellow patients on-line in the chatroom for people with my illness, Cushing’s Disease
using hypnosis, yoga, exercise, acupuncture, massage, Gestalt, and energy-work as adjuncts to my medical treatment
re-entering and using psychotherapy to support me emotionally through the process of illness and the stresses of medical treatment (In Gestalt therapy, I spoke to my tumor and my pituitary and came to understand their function in my life: I had a hypomanic pituitary mimicking my own sometimes hyper-functioning mode of living.)
joking with people as much as possible about brain tumors to facilitate comfort of myself and people providing my care from hospital registration personnel to my brain surgeon
carrying with me at all times the small objects people offered to me as brain-tissue replacement
wearing a donut-like pendant covered by a symbol of a healer as a reminder of my brain with a hole in the middle healing

Unfortunately, my surgery was unsuccessful, and I faced a decision between a second surgery or radiation treatment. I did not find this funny. In fact, I was pretty demoralized and said so in an email to friends and colleagues, again inviting humor. One of my colleagues placed a request to the entire international mailing list of my Gestalt therapy colleagues on my behalf, saying she had “an ill friend in need of humor”. In came jokes from around the world – about fifty pages of them – which I read to my driver enroute to my gamma knife radiation treatment in another state. We laughed our way there and back!

Life is what it is. We get what we get. And we might as well enjoy it!

The author, Dori Middleman, M.D. is a child and adult psychiatrist in private practice in Merion, PA. She has a musician/conductor husband and two children. She was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor causing Cushing’s Disease in November of 2001.

Listen Interview on a Philadelphia-area public radio talkshow, Voices in the Family, about Cushing’s Disease and how to make meaning out of illness and adversity.
Read Dr. Dori Middleman’s article HOW TO HAVE FUN WITH A BRAIN TUMOR.
Read Dr. Dori Middleman’s article PSYCHIATRIC ISSUES WITH CUSHING’S DISEASE.
Read “DrDori”, Dr. Dori Middleman’s First Guest Chat, April 14, 2004.


DrDori answered questions in an online Voice Chat, June 12, 2008, 7:30PM eastern. Archives aree available.

Listen to CushingsHelp on internet talk radio

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Amy (spunkybluecat), Pituitary Bio

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A Golden Oldie from July 11, 2011

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Hello, my name is Amy.

I was diagnosed with Cushing’s last November and had surgery to remove the pituitary adenoma in March.

It took me FOREVER (over 3 y) to get a diagnosis. None of my doctor’s would really listen. I was SO frustrated but kept on pushing because I KNEW something wasn’t right. Pre- surgery I had excess hair (facial+), weight gain (abdominal), stertch marks, fatigue, very irregular menstrual cycle…..Now that I’ve had the tumor removed I still have problems.

I’m hoping that some of you will help me to answer those questions/problems. My facial hair has slowed down, I’ve lost over 65 pounds in 3 months, I’m going through menpause now (I’m 36yo), my hair is starting to fall out, I have NO energy/fatigued all the time, some days I wake up OK and others I wake up vomiting or very unsteady like I’m going to pass out if I’m on my feet for too long. I am very depressed.

My life has fallen apart. My marriage is over, I have had to move in with my mother, I am unemployed, and I can’t do the fun things that I should be able to do with my 8yo daughter. I have no friends and my family is not supportive at all. They say I just need to get off my *ss. I’m tired of people blaming depression, laziness, etc. I want my life back.

I need help and don’t know where to turn. I hope that I can learn what I need to do solve these problems and meet some people who can send some sunshine my way.

MariaLaura, PCOS Bio

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Another Golden Oldie, this bio was last updated December 8, 2008.

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Dear friends, I’ve made every possible test in these months, and I don’t have cushing.

I’m only an obese woman with PCOS, high blood pressure, insuline-resistence (thanks to this, even if I’m making the diet, I don’t succeed to lose many Kilos and moreover I can’t take the medicine for the insuline-resistence because my transaminases are still high) without diabetes (my glycemy after three months of diet is in a normal range). Now ‘m not happy…

In the end, I wanna wish you a wonderful Christmas day and a new year full of victories.

Kristine (Kristine), Adrenal Bio

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18 months ago I underwent an adrenalectomy (L) for a benign mass. My cortisol levels were slightly elevated, all tests suggested sub clinical cushings.

Before the surgery I felt great, no symptoms other than easy bruising, bleeding gums and mild hypertention. In fact, the reason I went to an endocrinologist was because I thought i had a hypothyroid issue and my fasting blood glucose was always around 110. The adrenal mass was an incidentaloma during a scan of my pancreas/abdomen.

During the surgery I suffered a positioning injury  to my shoulder, arm, and hand. Permanent nerve damage and horribly painful to this day. My initial post op replacement dose of cortisone was 10mg twice a day even though the surgeon and my endo were quite aware of my injuries. I felt like I was dying. Short of breath, chest pain, no sleep ever to this day.

Finally after 6 months a doctor at the hospital were I worked as an RN took over and directed me to pain management and ordered MRIs. Torn muscles, bursitis, tendonitis carpal tunnel and ulnar nerve entrapement etc….Since then i have had to change endos because mine has become rude and my appointments brief. I make 0.5 cortisol, nothing.

I am still on disability and will be terminated permenently in September. Every morning I lie there writhing in pain, short of breath, crying. I am so lethargic once I force myself up I bump into things. Some days I can’t get up at all. All pain management wants to do is inject steroids. I have had 3 nreve blocks and a spinal stimulator trial which did more harm than good. I KNOW I am in steroid withdrawl but what do I do now?

It’s been 18 months and I can’t find an endo who will pay any attention to me…………….I  also believe I still have a thyroid problem. My levels are ‘borderline’ just like my cortisol was but the symptoms are all there and very obvious. Plus my cholesterol ,untreated, is 295. I don’t eat junk at all. never did.

My meds are Hyzaar, lipitor, neurontin, calcium, prozac,and 10mg of cortisone a day. I ditched the vitamin d3 because they only check my D-25 not 1-25 D and I am afraid of having dysregulated Vit D metabolisn which increases inflammation…..

I don’t know what to do. Help 😦

Kristine

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Liberty, Undiagnosed Bio

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Liberty is not yet diagnosed, but possibly has a co-secreting tumor that is secreting prolactin and cortisol. She was told she might have a small tumor on her pituitary gland.  Her bio was last updated 6/17/2008

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My first symptom was that I was still lactating after a year of not nursing. I had looked on the computer to see if that was normal. I found a sight that said it was so I didn’t give it much more thought.

Then in July 2003 I was 5 days late having my peroid which has always been normal. Every month since then I have either been late or skipped it all together. I also started getting really bad acne and gaining weight.

The worst symptom is what I thought was PMS. It starts two weeks or so before my period and lasts about two to two and a half weeks. It is so bad I can hardly function. I can’t keep my house clean, I can’t bring myself to cook dinner, I lose my patience with my kids very easily. Then it goes away and just about the time I get back into the swing of things, it starts all over again.

So, I went to the doctor about 3 weeks ago and she said she would put me on birth control to regulate my periods. But first she wanted to run some blood work. So she did the blood work and two weeeks later I was told that my prolactin was high and that I might have a small tumor on my pituitary gland.

Then I was scheduled with a endocrinologist in February. I am going nuts waiting for this appt. I have been on the computer alot. I happened across a website for a pituitary unit in Oregon. I emailed the Dr. and he emailed me his # and told me to call. So, I did. I told him my symptoms and he asked me a few questions. He said he thinks I have a co-secreting tumor that is secreting prolactin and cortisol.

So, I just have to wait now.

Kirsty (kirstymnz), Ectopic Adrenal Bio

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Another Golden Oldie, Kirsty’s bio was last updated 08/18/2009.

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I don’t really remember when it first started. It was probably about a year ago when I think about it.

I found myself becoming easily tired all the time. I went from being a social butterfly and life of the party to an ‘old nana’ who stayed home all the time and went to bed early. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it; I just put it down to working hard and not sleeping well. I often had disturbed sleeps because I regularly (3 or 4 times a night) got up during the night to go to the bathroom and once I was awake, it sometimes took up to 2 hours to get back to sleep.

As the year progressed, I rapidly began to gain weight. Putting it down to ‘eating to many chocolate biscuits’ and not enough exercise, I began going to the gym 4-5 times per week and basically eating ‘rabbit food’.

The obsessive cleaning habit probably began around the same time as the weight gain; it got to the point where I couldn’t possibly think about doing anything else until I had cleaned every nook and cranny.

Throughout all of this, I was having very sporadic periods, which were very painful. I never imagined they could possibly be linked. I decided to visit my GP, who sent me off for numerous tests including an ultrasound, which resulted in a diagnosis of polycystic ovaries.

My GP referred me to an endocrinologist who then requested more tests, including a 24 hour urine collection (something I became very accustomed to during the course of my illness, eventually having to do them weekly). I heard nothing as a result of the tests, so I assumed all was fine.

As the months passed, my weight continued to raise, as it did, my self esteem fell. I also began to notice bright red stretch marks appearing on my stomach.

I reached the stage where my self esteem was so low that I decided to return to my GP. The first thing she said to me when I walked into her practice was “your face looks very cushingoid.” Having no idea what she meant, I sat down as she looked through my file. As she came across my test results that had been requested by the endocrinologist, her face dropped. The level of cortisol (stress hormone) in my urine was over 2000mg (the average person needs around 30mg per day). She instantly picked up the phone in a desperate bid to contact the endocrinologist, but was unable to get hold of him. Having left a number of messages, she told me she would be in touch once she had heard back, and so I left. I wasn’t really too concerned as at this stage, I had no idea just how important cortisol really was.

The next day at work, a phone call came through for me. It was the endocrinologist. He said I desperately needed to come in to see him. I left work straight away. When I arrived, he advised me I had Cushing’s syndrome. He spent the next few minutes telling me what this was, although it all went in one ear and out the other once he told me that it is 99% of the time caused by a pituitary tumor; all I could think of once he said tumor was ‘cancer’.

The following Monday, I was admitted to hospital for 10 days of tests (including 4 hourly blood tests)during which time my food obsession began (this obsession progressed to be the worst of them and became all I could think about). These tests concluded that I did indeed have Cushing’s.

The months that followed proved to be the hardest that I have ever faced. MRI scans, CT scans, numerous X rays. The hardest of all these was what they call a petrusal vein sampling (this is where they insert a catheter into the groin through the femoral vein which goes up to the base of the brain to look at the pituitary, they do this while awake – I could actually feel them moving around in my head.)

This test concluded that my Cushing’s was being caused by a tumor somewhere other than the pituitary (this only happens in 1% of cases, and there is about a 1 in 10 million chance of getting it). The question now was “where is the tumor?” I happened to be at one of my regular appointments at the same time as the Endocrinologist was to attend a meeting with the head of CT.

lungsTogether they looked at a CT scan I had previously had of my lungs, on which they spotted a small nodule which they believed could be the cause. Numerous more tests were to follow, including one where radioactive liquid (which I had to wait for over a month for to arrive from Australia) was injected into a vein in my arm, with the purpose of highlighting any tumors on a CT scan.

After such a long wait, this test proved a waste of time as it showed nothing (it turns out it only works 50% of the time anyway). Around the same time, I started having severe anxiety attacks, brought on by several major stresses. I decided the only way to ease the anxiety was to remove all the stresses possible; I did this by moving home to my parents.

The next week, another CT scan was required to see if the nodule had grown, it hadn’t. Feeling completely stumped, the endocrinologist decided to take a risk and remove the part of my lung that the nodule was on. Because it was so small, the surgeon required a hook wire to be placed in it in order to see where it was. This procedure was incredibly painful and one of the worst things during the whole illness that I’ve faced.

Disappointingly, this surgery was a failure, leaving me in the high dependency unit for 6 days and in immense pain.

The next step which was seen as a definite cure was to remove the adrenal glands (this really was a last resort, as once these are removed; hydrocortisone replacement is required for life in order to stay alive).

After this surgery, I spent another 6 days in the hospital, during which time, I experienced mood swings, dizziness, nausea and much more while my body adjusted to lower cortisol levels. I was sent home on morphine as I was still in so much pain from the surgery, however when I went in for a checkup 5 days after being discharged, the endocrinologist couldn’t believe I was still on it. In total I had been on it for 6 weeks, resulting in severe withdrawals when I stopped taking it (why anyone would voluntarily take drugs I will never know after going through this).

I am now 5 weeks down the track. I am not going back to normal as quickly as I had expected, physically; I am constantly tired and am still in pain from the lung operation which was 2 months ago, I’m told this could last up to year.

However, on a positive note, I have lost around 5 of the 15 kgs gained during the illness. I am also mostly back to normal mentally.

My Cushing’s disease is cured now, however I am now labeled as being a sufferer of Addison’s disease (where there are no adrenals, or the adrenals don’t work).

There is a long road ahead still, including reconstructive surgery of my legs, arms and torso, but I sure am glad to be out the other side of the worst of it.

Michael B, Adrenal Bio

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Michael B’s Story. Michael B was first diagnosed with Cushing’s in 1979 and had a bilateral adrenalectomy in 1980. In 1983 the symptoms reoccurred and he had a third adrenal removed in 1983. He then developed Nelson’s syndrome and had his pituitary (plus tumour) removed, followed by another pituitary surgery then 5 weeks of radiotherapy.

This Golden Oldie was last updated 06/07/2008

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I was diagnosed with Cushing’s in late 1979 and had a bilateral adrenalectomy in 1980. After the operation my weight reduced and my blood pressure stabilised to normal. In 1983 the symptoms re-occurred and I had a third adrenal removed in 1983 (this was found by the use of radioactive cholesterol isotope injection).

The anterior pituitary is the anterior, glandu...

The anterior pituitary is the anterior, glandular lobe of the pituitary gland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After this I felt good until 1987 when I developed Nelson’s syndrome and had my pituitary (plus tumour) removed. Again all went well until an MRI scan discovered that the tumour had returned.

In 1998 I had this removed followed by 5 weeks of radiotherapy in the hope of preventing a further growth of this tumour. To date and several MRI’s later it seems to be working.

In the early days my symptoms were all physical e.g. moon face, high blood pressure excess weight, abdominal striae, localised headache, I never suffered from depression.

I write to reassure people that it is possible to live a normal life after Cushing’s. Keep up the work on the website. I did not have the luxury of so much information. My information came from trawling through my local library for information for, like others, I got little information from my doctors.

Fabiana, Pituitary Bio

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Fabiana had transphenoidal surgery (pituitary) July 30th 2004.  She had a recurrence after seven years of being Cushing’s free.  A second pituitary surgery on 10/26/2011 was unsuccessful.

Another Golden Oldie, this bio was last updated 9/12/2015

interview

Fabiana will be our guest in an interview on BlogTalk Radio  Wednesday, October 21 at 6:00 PM eastern.  The Call-In number for questions or comments is (657) 383-0416.

The archived interview will be available after 7:00 PM Eastern through iTunes Podcasts (Cushie Chats) or BlogTalkRadio.  While you’re waiting, there are currently 88 other past interviews to listen to!

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Well it has taken me a year to write this bio…and just to give some hope to those of you just going thru this process…I have to say that after surgery I have not felt better! I am back to who i always knew I was….the depression and anxiety is gone and I am living life like a 24 year old should!

I guess it all started when i was sixteen (hindsight is 20-20 i guess). My periods stopped i was tired all the time and the depression started. We all kind of just chalked it up to being sixteen. But my mom insisted something was not right. we talked with my gyno…who said nothing was wrong, I had a fungus on my head (my hair was getting really thin) and sometimes girls who had normal periods (in my case three years of normal periods) just go awry.

My mom wasnt hearing that and demanded a script for an endo. I went….he did blood work…and metioned cushings. But nothing came back definitive…so they put me on birthcontol and gave me some hormones and the chushings was never mentioned again because that all seemed to work.

As time went on my depression got worse, the shape of my body started to change-my face and stomach was the most noticeable- and my energy level kept going down. I kept going back to the doctors asking to be tested for mono..or something. I went to a psycologist….but i knew there was no reason for my depression. Two of them told me “i had very good insight” and that I didnt need them. I started getting more anxiety..especially about going out socially.

High school ended and my typical optimistic personality started to decline. I put on a good act to my friends but my family was seeing me break down all the time. I went away for college (all the while gaining weight). My sophmore year I had a break down..I called my family crying that i needed help. I couldnt beat my depression. I didnt drink in college because i knew that would mean instant weight gain, i barely went out…i exercised everyday..hard….i joined weight watchers…i stuck with it. I was at 103 lbs….that crept up to 110…that crept up to 117…each time my weight goal would be “ohh if i could just get back to 108..112…115” with each weight gain my original weight goal would get higher and higher.

Internally i felt like I was constantly under a black cloud..i knew there was no reason why i shoudl feel this way..i was doing great in school, i had a supportive family, an amazing boyfriend and great friends…why was i depressed? I was becoming emotionally draining to the people closest to me…I would go home a lot on the weekends…i was diagnosed with PMDS….like severe PMS..and was given an antidepresant…i hated it it made me feel like a zombie…i stopped taking it and just made it apoint to work on fighting the depression….and the weight gain.

When i was done college i was about 120 lbs. My face was getting rounder and rounder..i was noticing more hair on my face and arms…and a hump between my shoulder blades and the bottom of my neck. My mom saw a tv show about Polycystic ovarian syndrome and felt that maybe that was what was going on with me…i went to my PCP with this and she said it was possible and that i should to talk to my gyno….I am 4’8 and at the time weighing close to 125..i talked to my gyno and she said I was not heavy..that i was just “itailan” ..i told her my periods were getting abnormal again even w/the birthcontrol and that i was so tired all the time and my arms and legs ached. I also told her that i was bruising very easily…and that the weight gain would not stop despite my exercising and following the atikins diet very strickly for over 6 weeks. My boyfriend and I decided to try the diet together..he lost 35 llbs in 6 weeks..i lost NOTHING! I went back to my PCP who ordered an ultra sound of my ovaries…..NOTHING.(i kept thinking i was going crazy and that it was all in my head)….she also decided to do some blood work…and as i was walking out the door she said..”you know what..i am going to give you this 24hr urine test too. Just so that we cover everything”. I just kept thinking please let something come back ….please dont let this be all my fault…please dont let this be all in my head…..please dont let me be crazy. When i got the test results back it turned out that the 24hr urine test was the one test i needed to get on the right track to finding what was wrong. My cortisol level was 3x’s the normal.

I went to an endo…by the time i got to the endocronoligist i was up to 130…i could not work a full day without needing a full day of sleep and my body was aching beyond description. I was crying all the time…in my room…and was becoming more and more of a recluse…i would only hang out with my boyfriend in our houses. I looked my symptoms up on the internet and saw cushings…that was it! I went to the endo and told him..i think it is cushings….he said he had only saw it one other time and that he wanted to do more tests. I got CAT scans, x-rays, MRI’s….my adrenals my pituitary my lungs….he did a CRH stimulation test which was getting blood work done every fifteen minutes for 90minutes….it took weeks to get that test scheduled..no one had ever heard of it and therefore did not know how to do it…..finally after 3 months of tests my dr. felt he had enough evidence to diagnos me with cushings disease (tumor on my pituitary) I was diagnosed in March of 2004. By this time i was about 137 lbs i had to work part time (i am an occupational therapist for children..i do home visits….i could not make it thru a whole day)

In April i had to change to office work…i could not lift the children and i could barely get up off the floor. I have to say i was one of the lucky people who worked for people who were very supportive and accomidating…my boss was very willing to work with me and willing to hold my job for me.

July 30th 2004 i finally had transphenodial surgery to remove my tumor (they went thru my lip and nose because they felt my nose was too small). It is now over 1 year later….i am down to 108 lbs, i have so much energy…no depression….and i dont mind looking at myself in the mirror…i am enjoying my friends and my boyfriend…(who stayed with me thru it all) And my family. I feel healthy mentally, emptionally, and physically. And i just got back into my size 2 jeans!!!

It was a crappy time…(as i am sure you all can atest to) but i learned a lot…..most importantly i was bombarded by good wishes and prayers….friends requested masses for me…a nun in brazil prayed for me…people who i never thought i touched their lives…took the time to wish me well…send an email..or call….I got to experience the wonderful loving nature of human beings and i was lucky to be supported by my family (my mom, dad, and two younger brothers) and my boyfriend throughout this entire tough journey.

This experience taught me to realize the strength i have as well as to appreciate the good and the bad in life. I was on hydrocortizone for about 8 months…i was lucky that my tumor was in its own little sack so my pituitary gland was not touched. In the end in took about 7 years to diagnose me..i think that if the dr. at 16 would have pursued the cushings idea nothing would have been found because it took so long for my symptoms to really peak…needless to say i love my PCP and my endo ..and that i changed gyno’s…

I just want to let anyone out there going thru this disease to know..you are not alone….and to take each day is stride…when you need help ask for it….and that this road can lead to a happy ending. God Bless!

ps- it is ok to feel bad about what you are going thru…it is a tough thing to endure…and when the docotors tell you there is noting wrong…..follow your gut…and you keep searching for the doctor that will listen… If there is anyone in the philadelphis of south jersey area who needs someone to talk to please feel free to email me…fapadula@hotmail.com…i will help you out the best i can!

Update November 6, 2011

Well- here is an update, after seven years of being Cushings free it has returned.

With in those seven years I married my college boyfriend and we now have a son- Nicholas who will be 2 in Decemeber. It has been a blessed and wonderful seven years. However right around when my son was turning 1 I started to notice symptoms again. Increase facial hair, the whole “roundness” of my body, buffalo hump. I decided I was going to work out hard, eat right, and see – I didnt just want to jump to any conclusions. I stuck to it- and nothing…..my hair started thinning again and the acne was coming back and then the missed periods…..so I went to my PCP- told them i needed the 24hr urine and wouldnt you know…..427 cortisol level (on that 0-50 scale)……here we go again.

So back to endo- now at Penn Pituitary Center…..it was another journey b/c the tumor wasnt definative on MRI, and it seems to be cycling…..but I was diagnosed with Cushings again- with the option of 2nd pit surgery or BLA…….after some months of trying to make a decision I went with the 50/50 chance of the second pituitary surgery on 10/26/2011.

It didnt work- my levels never came down in the hospital and I went home w/ out of range cortisol levels and no need for medication……BLURG……Sooooo on to the next step…..after I recover from this surgery I will most likely have the BLA- with the hopes of not having to deal with Cushings ever again. This time around has been a little more difficult just with being a mom and feeling sick- but I still continue to be amazingly blessed with a supportive family and husband and we are surrounded by love and support and for that I am beyond greatful.

I keep all of you in my prayers for relief and health- as I ( we all) know this no easy journey.

Many Blessings!

Fabiana

Update September 12, 2015

So to bring this up to date. My second pituitary surgery in 2011 was unsuccessful. January of 2012 I had both of my adrenal glands removed. Going to adrenal insufficiency was a very difficult transition for me. It took me nearly 2 years before I felt functional. As time went on I felt more human, but I haven’t felt healthy since that day. I can and do function, but at a lower expectation of what I used to be capable of….my “new normal”.

My husband and I decided to try for a second child…my pituitary was damaged from the second surgery and we needed fertility…after 8 months of fertility I got pregnant and we had our second son January of 2015.

In April of 2015 we discovered that my ACTH was increasing exponentially. MRI revealed a macroadenoma invading my cavernous sinus. The tumor is sitting on my carotid artery and milimeterrs away from my optic chasim. I was not a candidate for another surgery due to the tumors proximity to.both of those vital structures.

So September 1st of this year I started daily radiation treatments. I spent my 34th birthday getting my brain zapped. I am receiving proton beam therapy at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I am so lucky to live so close to an institute that has some of the rarest treatment options.

Again Cushing’s is disrupting our life, my husband goes with me every night to radiation while family takes turns watching the kids….I am now on my 18th year of fighting this disease. I never imagined it would get to this point.

But here we all are making the best of each day, fighting each day and trying to keep things as “normal” as possible. Blessings to all of you fighting this disease…my new go to saying is” ‘effing Cushing’s”! For you newbies…Fight, Advocate for yourselves, and find a doc who doesn’t dismiss you and hang on to them for dear life.

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Magdalena, Food-Dependent Cushing’s Bio

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Magdalena is from Windsor, Ontario (Originally Poland). She has Food-Dependent / GIP-Dependent Cushing’s Syndrome. This means that genetically, she has cells on her adrenals that are only supposed to be in her intestines. They respond to a polypeptide hormone (GIP) that is produced in response to food. So when she eats, the hormone triggers her adrenal glands and they produce cortisol. It is an ectopic response that is ACTH-independent.

A Golden Oldie last updated 01/22/2008.

~~~

Hi, I am 22 years old now, at diagnsis. I have a rare form of cushing’s syndrome called food-dependant cushing’s syndrome. Sometimes it is referred to as gip-dependant cushing’s syndrome. This means that genetically, I have cells on my adrenals that are only supposed to be in my intestines. They respond to a polypeptide hormone (GIP) that is produced in response to food. So I eat, the hormone triggers my adrenal glands and they produce cortisol. It is an ectopic response that is acth-independant.

I am writing this bio because it was very hard to find this disease, and it was like nothing else, even normal cushing’s fit rather loosely.

I began having problems at age 12, but the disease did not “blow up” till I was 19. When i was 12, I started having stomach pains. First, the doctors said it was apendicitis, then my period, then lactose intolerance. This was on and off, and I kept eliminating foods that I thought i might be allergic too.

When I was 15, the problem intensified. I lost my period and my stomach aches grew worse; I noticed that my stomach was quite swollen after a normal meal, and everyone elses was not. I assumed that it was my fault and I should eat healthier.

Unfortunately, the stomache aches grew worse till my stomach swelled even below my breastbone and I could barely breathe. I started eating very little and very thought out proportions of food, often feeling that I was doing this to myself and then feeling that this couldn’t be normal.

At 17, I started getting really annoyed that my face was so swollen all the time and my skin so bad; I thought i was just ugly. I was quite thin at 5’5″ and 105lbs, but with a very swollen face and stomache. This was getting out of control, the pain was worse, and I was getting thinner. My yelled at me in class because I wasn’t jumping high enough and I told her it hurt cuz of my stomach, she told me I was too thin and that I probably had an eating disorder.

I was in so much pain, I would have gone to a doctor for a monkey growing out of my head. I went to the eating disorder doctor, I told her my stomach hurt. She told me I had an eating disorder (no kidding.) I was put into a group where they would feed me. Over the next two years, I was put on many antidepressants, fed weight gainers, but the pain grew worse and I grew thinner.

Eventually, they put me in the hospital where the problem grew much worse. I couldn’t even lay down because the food would come back up to my throat and I started having a problem with constipation. Nausea became a problem; thank God I only threw up once in my life, when I was five and I had the flu. I have never had a high temperature since, or thrown up since. This should have been a sign that something was wrong with my immune system, but no one listened. For some reason, my cholesterol was very high and I had a fatty liver. Needless to say, there was no improvement and I signed myself out after 6 weeks.

I knew there was something wrong. I was 19 and the pain was worse. I left my eating disorder doctor with the same complaint that I had come with. So she said that I had IBS. I knew that couldn’t be it, because it never went away, it only got worse, and it had nothing to do with stress or the type of food I ate. To the day of my diagnosis, I thought IBS was a bullshit diagnosis- we don’t know what’s wrong yet…

At 19 something odd happened, i started gaining weight very fast and my ankles and knees started hurting. I was pushing through the pain to eat because life was hard, but I started gaining weight too fast. I went off to a musical theatre conservatory in Feb 04 and disaster struck. I blew up like a balloon, my face looked awful and my stomach would hurt to the point I would become paralyzed. It hurt to breath and I could barely walk upright sometimes. I came home and we went through the diagnosises; pancreatitis, ibs, psychosis, eating disorder, lupus, diabetes, thyroid and celiac disease.

It looked like celiac disease so I eliminated bread, but little changed. It was winter and I could barely shower and comb my hair because I had so little energy. The weight would come on so fast that my skin hurt to touch, and my eyes were swollen shut. I also thought i was psycho, but a little voice said I couldn’t be.

The next october the same cycle occurred, really quick weight gain, fatigue, sweats, and blurry vision. Independant university study was hard, but I got through it. That May and everything started going down, I could exercise again. However, the fatigue, nausea, stomach pain and occasional flareups were a rollercoaster. I know now that these are signs of adrenal insufficiency because my acth was still suppressed. The flareups made me feel crazy, that i was doing this to myself by eating.

The third time this cycle happened was much more painful. It was sept. 06 and I was going to university again. The bachelor of design was tough and I had to focus so much on staying healthy. Going to the gym everyday to sweat so that my swelling would go down. Watching what I ate, doing an IBS diet. I realized I couldn’t digest fruit or vegetables. I kept going to endocrinologist because I had no period and my dhea was high (which worried my gynecologist), but they all said it was nothing. My stomach aches occurred after eating, and even drinking water. The doctor at my school told me that I should know how to stop eating and drinking (He was a really fat, sweaty guy too). I had constipation for 10 days straight and laxatives barely worked. I had such swollen lymph nodes that I tasted raw blood in my throat and could barely swallow. Needless to say, I came home.

I ended up in the hospital at Christmas. The ER doctor and gastroenterologist both said there must be a endo problem because I had been constipated for 10 days, colonoscopy laxatives weren;t working, and my intestines and bladder was so full they couldn’t see on the Ct scan.

I finally went to an endocrinologist in Toronto, Dr. Rosario Briones-Urbina. I suggested Cushing’s, she said I was too skinny. Though I had just gone from 110lbs to 130lbs in two weeks. She agreed to test me in Jan. The test came out 550 out of a max of 250. She waited three months to do the dexamethasone and it was too late, it was march and my cortisol had gone to 90 (the min. was 60). She said she had never seen such a quick cycle.

I wanted to show her just how fast the cycle was; I took a UFC one day that came out 90, the next day I had a party, ate just like everyone else, but got a paralyzing stomach ache and sweats. I did a UFC the next day and it came out 350 (max 250). She was shocked. She said my symptoms fit an extremely rare form called food-dependant cushing’s. Unfortunately, the testing is not standard and I am waiting for it. After it is done, I will have a bilateral adrenalectomy.

If you got this far in my story, thank you for baring with me. I haven’t found a story like mine and wanted to share it, cuz I spent so much time looking. Over two years, I saw 24 specialists. I don;t know how I got through it, I must of been quite a witch with a B. However, I kept pushing. I studied at home independantly to keep me going and have now been accepted to medical school.

The most important advice i have to give is this:

    1. GO TO A TEACHING/RESEARCH HOSPITAL!!!
    2. If you have kids, think twice before eating disorder treatment. I went into the program with pain and a method of coping. I came out with an eating disorder psyche, bad experiences, and a truckload of pills that were making me crazy.
    3. IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE FOOD DEPENDANT CUSHINGS, HERE IS HOW I COPE;
      • the cortisol goes up with too much of any protein, fat or carbs. I eat small turkey/cheese sandwiches at every meal (enough to be full, but well balanced).
      • I use stevia instead of sugar because its natural (health food isle.)
      • alcohol really hurts now, so only a little wine occassionally.
      • lots of yogurts.
      • every couple days a mixture of senna laxative and stool softener (not too often)
    4. Remember the squeekiest wheel gets the grease.

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