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Chelsea, Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed2

 

Hello Cushing’s world! My names is Chelsea. I’m 23, female and waiting for a possible Cushing’s diagnosis. I’m trying to see if anyone has a similar story to mine? I’ve had a hard time finding people in my age bracket with similar symptoms or test results.

Up until I was 21, I was 110 pounds soaking wet. I’m 5’3 and have always been extremely active. I was on the USTA junior tennis circuit for 15 years and then started coaching when I was in college. I also was always on a high protein, low card diet for the majority of my life.

I also went on birth control at age 13 and stayed on it until I was 20. The first 6 months off of birth control, I never had a period but I assumed it was normal after being on the pill for so long so I didn’t worry about it.

Then, about 3 and half years ago, roughly six months after I turned 20, I gained 45 pounds in a matter of 5 months. Completely unexplained when, at the time I was coaching a JV tennis team and in kickboxing class twice a week. Obviously I was utterly shocked and disappointed. I started trying to lose the weight. I cut down from 1500 calories a day to 1200 and amped up my cardio routine.

My period had come back, but I started noticing that it would always come about 8-10 days after I expected it to come. Again, I assumed my body was just getting back into the swing of things after going off the pill.

During all of this, it was time for my yearly physical with my GP. I went to the appointment, had weight and height taken, and was ready to discuss with him the weight problem I got in what seemed like overnight. After walking him through my diet and exercise routine and mentioning my period irregularity, he simply insinuated that I was probable a closet over eater and said “Just eat more celery”.

Still to this day I can not look at celery without my blood boiling. He also said that once I lose the weight, my periods will get normal. Ok. I’m 20 at the time and a little naïve in my thinking that, “he’s the doctor, he must be right”. So I pressed on in my quest to lose the weight. To no avail. Instead, every Wednesday when I stepped on the scale, it showed that I had gained a pound of two.

At this point I’m weighing in at 158. Not grossly overweight but also not a healthy BMI. I also started noticing that my once long, strong jaw line was turning into mush and seriously thought I needed a chin implant. Then I noticed that I was starting to oddly resemble a linebacker. The fat on my back between my shoulders came out of no where. I have worn a scarf almost every day since to hide it. I also noticed that, while the sleeves in my shirts were fitting fine, my pants were not buttoning and I could no longer wear my mid-drift bearing tops without looking at myself and crying.

The depression began to set in. I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18 due to boughts of depression followed by highly elevated mood, never quite reaching mania. Also, I was anxious 24/7. I never took antidepressants. Only a mild mood stabilizer and still do to this day. It is the only medication I’m on.

Back to age 20, the next thing I noticed was that I could no longer bear going to school, coaching tennis, and working part time. It was everything I could do to just get out of bed. My back ached, my knees ached, and I was not even recognizing myself in the mirror. As my mother puts it, I started looking like I was stung my a thousand bees rather than putting on weight.

It was about this time, age 21 that I had skin problems. So I went to the dermatologist who diagnosed me with mild eczema on my elbows and tops of my hands. But it hurt. I couldn’t and still can’t stand for my hands to come in contact with anything hotter than warm bath water.

It then came time for my annual gyno appointment. Again, I rehashed everything I had been feeling and noticing and again, I was told it was just “life stress” and to “learn to relax and work hard to lose the weight”. So again, I left feeling like it was all in my head. The next few months is when I started noticing that I was not functioning like I used to. The comment I often made to my mom was ” I just feel like I’m on autopilot all day. Everything seems so hazy.” She began thinking I may have a thyroid problem.

SO I made another appointment with my GP and brought her with me. He adamantly insisted it was in my head and would not order blood work. Again, I left feeling like this was all my fault. A few months later, I accepted a job after graduation and moved to Boston. This is when I first noticed the disgusting black mustache that had taken up residence above my upper lip. I began having to shave it every day and decided well this must have something to do with my period problem, that was still coming farther and farther apart every couple of cycles. Again, more weight gain.

Finally, I hired a personal trainer and nutritionist. I met with the trainer twice a week and the nutritionist once a week. I kept up with this regime for about 11 months. I lost a grand total of…… four pounds. I was defeated to say the least.

During those 10 months I noticed that my vision was so blurry. Every day all day, it was slightly fuzzy but there would be instances where it would get so bad, I could no longer read my phone. I had been diagnosed with refractive amblyopia when I was 5 ( a non-wandering lazy eye) but I had never had blurry vision before. I decided to find a GP in Boston and made an appointment.

I yet again, went through my whole list of symptoms that I had been gradually wracking up over the last two years and again, heard “you need to just try harder to get the weight off and then everything will go back to normal”. UGH. I thought by choosing a female doctor this time that I’d hear something at least a little more hopeful. But no.

A few months later, I took a job with a great company and relocated to Houston. It was this time last year and I had completely missed a period. 84 days with no period. I decided to get serious. I starting tracking my cycle and recording my weight. I met with another GP. Again, I heard, you need to lose the weight. I was done. I resolved that this must be how I was going to spend my life. Fat, achy, depressed, most probably infertile, and going through life in a haze. However, I kept tracking my periods just so I’d get an idea of when to expect them.

Then, in October of 2015, I accepted a dream promotion and relocated to Seattle. I had started having hot flashes in Houston but guessed that it had to just be that Texas heat. However, they continued in Seattle. I was still living life with the sense that maybe all people feel like me. Maybe all people have aches and pains and can’t muster up the energy to do tasks as simple and mundane as cleaning the coffee pot.

Then, I went home over Christmas where I experienced the three most awful hot flashes of my life. My whole body started tingling, I felt like I was being held up to a fire. I resolved then and there that when I got back to Seattle, I was making a gyno appointment and I was not going to leave that office until the doctor thoroughly listened to me and blood work was ordered. I had a “don’t take no for an answer attitude”.

Luckily, by God’s grace I presume, I didn’t need that attitude. My new gyno is now my hero. Immediately after I went through the last three years of my symptoms, he sent me for blood work. He was thinking PCOS or a thyroid problem. Maybe both. A week went by and I never heard from him. He had said he’d call in two days. Finally, after I called the office about 5 times, he called and said he was sorry to keep me in suspense but that he had never seen blood work like mine. He was expecting to see either my thyroid levels elevated or my testosterone/androgen elevate. Instead, those were all in normal range. What wasn’t in normal range was my moderately elevated Prolactin level and my “through the roof” DHEA level. He had consulted four other doctors who were all just as puzzled as he was and recommended he refer me to a medical endo.

In the meantime, I had made an appointment with a new GP. I went to that appointment two days after my gyno called with my test results. I didn’t mention that conversation with my new GP. I wanted to see what her opinion was when I presented her with my symptoms and test results. She too thought PCOS with symptoms but when she looked at my blood work said ” I have no idea but something is not right”. SCORE! I couldn’t have been happier.

After years of feeling crazy and lazy and defeated, I had validation that my body was working against me. She didn’t come out and say “I believe you have Cushing’s” but she did say “When you see the endo, please ask him about Cushing’s”. My guess is, she didn’t want to make that kind of diagnosis. I got my referral to endo and called to make the appointment, it’s for next week. And I found out my gyno had written “possible Cushing’s?” on my referral. So now I’m anxiously awaiting my endo consultation. His assistant called yesterday and asked why no one had order a pituitary MRI yet. I told her that these were the first two doctors out of 7 that I have seen in the past two years who ever even believed something was wrong. She decided we should do the consultation and go from there. Weird to say, but I really hope it is a cut and dry endocrine issue. Then I’d have a real answer. So now, I’m at 173 pounds, 5’3, (obese as I have been told by several non Seattle physicians), with stage 1 hypertension and a multitude of symptoms that I hope are all linked together.

If anyone has had a similar experience, please reach out. I know this is different for every patient but any kind of similarity will be welcomed while I anxiously await the endo appointment next week.

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Toni (Toni), Adrenal Bio

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adrenal-location

 

Diagnosed with cushings syndrome, right adenoma. Reviewed right adrenalectomy after 3 years of being bounced from doctor to doctor. Diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol. Hair loss, intense itching, bruising, weight gain, depression and osteoporosis, eith multiple fractures, torn ligaments and tendons.

Finally after researching a medication that one endocrinologist put me on for the osteoporosis I found another endocrinologist in NY at colombia presbyterian hospital that specializes in premenapausal idiopathic osteoporosis and this medication. I got an appointment with her.

On one review of my history she sent me for 24 hr urine cortisol which came back through the roof.

She then refereed me to their adrenal specialist had a CT scan which revealed a 3.5cm maas on right adrenal gland. Had surgery the next week and am now 4 weeks post op.

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Melissa B, Undiagnosed Daughters

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undiagnosed4

 

Hi everyone, I never imagined that I would wake up this morning to a life changing realization. I have spent years asking doctors what is happening to my child with no amswers. She was just 5 years old when she began to display cushings symptoms. At the time we repeatedly raised concerns with our pediatrician about her dramatic weight gain specifically in her belly area which made her appear pregnant and a once advanced child was regressing academically but the doctor’s constantly told me not to worry because all children develop differently they said. By the time she was 9 years old she began to display the following symptoms:

1. More weight gain focused in the belly area, face, and back (buffalo hump) with the belly area being firm and her face having a slightly swollen appearance.
2. Dark Black skin around her neck and areas such as in between legs and tummy area
3. Complete loss of hair on her head
4. Complete loss of eyelashes
5. Continued Slow learning in school
6. Depression and Anxiety
7. Lots of hair on arms, legs, and pubic area
8. Acne
9. Stretchmarks

She has been teased brutally in school and after having her go through many tests with no answers I ran across the possibility of her having cushings. Since we have seen two endocrinologists and both have run saliva and urine tests and have said she doesn’t have cushings, thyroid issues, diabetes and so on and so on.

Now my 8 year old is having the same symptoms as her sister. Today i noticed that she is now losing her hair too and I’m absolutely devastated. We need answers and I don’t know where else to turn.

If anyone out there is reading this and can help me get answers please I’m begging you to please reach out to me.

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Neale O (NealeO), Pituitary Bio

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pituitary-gland

 

I was diagnosed with Cushings Disease in September of 2015.

I used to be skinny. I was 160 lbs dripping wet. I had a thin face and exercised regularly. In fact, up until 2 years ago, I was doing CrossFit every morning at 5AM, and was pretty good at it!

I guess about 5-6 years ago, I started putting on weight. It started with what I thought was just a beer belly. I was dating a great girl and we went out a lot to eat and drink. I figured I was just getting fat and happy. Fast forward (got married to her) and we started to live our lives together. One day (2012) I was going in for a routine physical and was going over some things with my PCP. He suggested we do a finger prick to check my Glucose levels. The sample showed a 567. He was astonished, and immediately admitted me to the hospital. I ended up taking 5 IV bags as I was severely dehydrated. My PCP then schedule me in for the next day so that he could tell me I had Type 2 Diabetes (runs in family). They started me on drugs and insulin injections. So there I was, being treated for Diabetes (the Sugars as they call them) and High Blood Pressure (HBP).

This went on for a while and my wife and I decided to moved to Florida. In the mean time my undiagnosed Cushings was starting to rear it’s ugly head. Big belly, stretch marks, limb atrophy, fatigue, major depression, reduced libido, moon-pie face, thin skin and bruising easily. The depression caused a lot of issues with my marriage and we ended up getting a divorce. I moved back to Baltimore for support from my family.

I worked at my uncles shop for about a year, then was offered a new job with a great company and I jumped at the chance. By this time, the atrophy in my legs had started to really take effect. The job ended up being too physical for me and I had to resign after 1 one month.

I decided to see a new PCP as I was not happy with my previous one. Within the first 20 minutes of our initial consult, she recognized the Cushings symptoms and quickly referred me to the Endo Department (Dr. Taylor) at Mercy Medical. She had me do a bunch of blood work and urine tests. The cortisol numbers were off the charts.

She then referred me to Dr. Salvatori at John’s Hopkins Hospital (JHH). I was very lucky as she got me in there quickly. After speaking with him, he thought I had a Pituitary adenoma based on the crazy ACTH levels. We did and MRI, and an IPSS. The IPSS showed it was secreting from the right side mostly. The left had some high numbers, but nothing like the other side. In the MRI, they could not see the tumor.

Dr. Salvatori suggested on more thing before resorting to surgery. I am to have a “wet MRI” in January., 2016 This should give a much clearer scan. He also started me on Ketoconozale.

This is all happening very fast (diagnosed Sept 2015), and I am looking forward to the upcoming treatments.

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Sam, Adrenal Bio

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adrenal-glands
HI – I have just been diagnosed with Cushings.

I had a left adrenalectomy to confirm it.

I am interested in hearing from others – specifically “before and after”.

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Roseglass (Roseglass), Adrenal BIo

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I have been ill for 9 years. I was experiencing severe anxiety/depression, profuse sweating, extreme hypertension, a non-stop migraine, and living in a constant state of fight-or-flight. Seven years ago, a full body CT scan revealed a left adrenal tumour. It has taken until this past year (actually just a few months ago) to finally get a diagnosis of pheochromocytoma from the medical field (no one listens to the patient – I have been telling them about the pheo and that I have Cushings for 7 years! My cousin died from an undiagnosed pheo.) Fortunately, I have wonderful long-term family doctor and more recently a great endo who have given me alpha and beta blockers to keep the symptoms more tolerable while we waited for a confirmed diagnosis.

Besides the above symptoms from the pheo, I have all the typical Cushing’s symptoms, I have also had a stroke, at least one TIA, and a heart attack. My heart has become enlarged and I can hardly breathe. After the heart attack, my weight took a huge jump. I had already become quite large but then I gained 7″ around the middle in 4 weeks. I complained to my doctors that something was terribly wrong but they kept saying I was just eating too much (sound familiar?). I also have a variety of lesions covering a variety of organs.

Due to the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma (via a MIBG), I was sent to a surgeon. The first was an idiot (don’t stand for that – ever – there are decent people out there). Then I was allowed to choose my own team. I found a team in Toronto, at Princess Margaret Hospital, who are knowledgeable and really understand this disease. When they said I had classic Cushing’s, my eyes teared up – finally someone saw it.

I have just had my 1st consultation with them, plus more tests, and am waiting for my 2nd consultation in January when I also expect to meet with the surgeon. It is looking hopeful that I may have my life back. They believe my body will go back to normal: my heart, diabetes reversal, my hair return to normal (more on head, less on chin), pain relieved (I can hardly walk and cannot climb stairs), and other delightful changes …including a normal life span.

I am worried about small lesions developing on my pituitary and right adrenal gland but no one is really looking at those at the moment. I just got word that the left adrenal tumour doubled in size recently so getting this out is the priority. It has been such a long and frustrating process that I won’t feel truly at ease until I have an actual surgery date.

Roseglass

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Donelle T, Pituitary Bio

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Donelle Trotman was only in his 30s when his health suddenly took a strange and frightening turn.

He was rapidly gaining weight — more than 100 pounds in one year. His upper torso was getting bigger, but not his legs. And he felt overwhelmingly tired.

“My body just started changing,” the Staten Island, New York, native told TODAY as part of a three-day series, “Medical Mysteries,” looking at people who have recovered from rare diseases.

It was especially puzzling because Trotman had never had weight issues before.

In school, Trotman was never a skinny kid, but he wasn’t overweight. He loved sports, playing both basketball and baseball.

So as he entered adulthood, he was active and in good shape. Then, three years ago, he suddenly began to gain weight.

“It was just specific places: My stomach, under my arms, my back of my neck, my face, the bottom of my back,” Trotman said. “My legs stayed the same for a long time.”

To lose the extra pounds, Trotman began running, working out and lifting weights. Nothing worked.

In the span of one year, Trotman gained more than 120 pounds, topping the scale at 366 pounds, twice the amount he weighed at 18.

“I doubled, like, I got a whole person on me,” he said.

There were other alarming changes. Trotman became so easily tired that he’d get out of breath just by chewing food. When he woke up seeing double three months ago, he knew it was time to go to the hospital.

Doctors ran a flurry of tests, but the results offered few clues, leaving everyone puzzled. Then one day, an intern noticed stretch marks all over Trotman’s body, a telltale sign that solved the mystery. Trotman had Cushing’s disease, a rare condition that affects fewer than 50,000 people in the U.S. every year.

Trotman’s weight gain was being caused by a tiny tumor at the base of his brain, prompting his body to produce too much of the hormone cortisol. He had some of the classic symptoms: major weight gain in his upper body, skin problems and acne, plus fatigue.

Dr. John Boockvar and Dr. Peter Costantino at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital discovered Trotman had steroid levels ten times higher than normal.

“In Cushing’s disease, the pituitary gland has a small growth that releases a single hormone that causes the body to live with very high levels of steroids. The skin becomes very thin. You get increased acne. You can grow hair. You start sweating. You gain a lot of fat,” Boockvar said.

There was no time to lose: Untreated, Cushing’s is a fatal disease. Trotman was getting close to the point where doctors would not be able to reverse the changes, Costantino noted. He underwent surgery two weeks ago and had the growth successfully removed.

“The tumor was no bigger than the size of the tip of my pen,” Boockvar said. “And that something so small can cause a man to grow to 350 pounds and absolutely destroy his life is rather remarkable.”

These days, Trotman is feeling much better. His main focus now is to lose the weight he gained and regain an active lifestyle. He hopes to play basketball with his son soon.

“It’s wonderful. Every day it’s just like I feel a little stronger,” he said.

Doctors say Trotman will continue to lose weight and can shoot hoops with his son in about three months. There is an 8-10 percent chance the disease could come back, but Trotman said he knows what to look for now.

One of the reasons Trotman wanted to share his story is so others might recognize the symptoms of Cushing’s, although doctors stress it is a very rare illness.

From http://www.today.com/health/after-gaining-120-pounds-1-year-rare-diagnosis-saves-mans-t6561

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Jane (Jane), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed3

 

Hi. I am retired RN in Oklahoma.

I have undifferentiated connective tissue disease, chronic kidney disease and peripheral nerve disease in arms and legs.

I had an autoimmune disease in 1972 called Guillian Barre that left me with residual neuropathy.

Recently my PCP noticed I had hyperpigmentation and thought it might be Cushing’s. My ACTH was in the upper 70s, serum cortisol normal. My weight has been out of control for years.

I did 24 hour urine with normal result. My PCP ordered MRI and showed suspicion for 6 mm adenoma left side of pituitary. Saw endo who ordered 1 mg Dex test. To see neurosurgeon in Dec.

Have also had some severe headaches and intermittent nasea and vomiting (both unusual for me). Also unreasonable emotional outbursts totally out of character for me. If I have Cushings it must be cyclic or subclinical. I haven’t done my Dex test yet because I just don’t know if I should do it when I feel really bad or really good. I’ve felt like my life has been a roller coaster of highs and lows for over a year now.

My endo said if my Dex test is positive she would need to send me to Mayo because she has never dealt with this and there is no one in Oklahoma she can send me to. I have read many bios on this site. It’s crazy how long it takes for people to get diagnosed. Literature says timely diagnosis is so important in relationship to good outcomes. I don’t have the Cushings striae. I do have really bad swelling and pain, fatigue. I’ve been on a daily diuretic for almost 30 years. If I miss it my face and hands swell up and one eye gets red and tears. I feel like my problems began after I had my last child 30 years ago.

Sending good thoughts to all of you out there and what you have and are currently going through. There are lots of heroes here, and even if my problems turn out to be something else, this website has been a life savior. Thanks so much for being there.

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Vicki (Pugmom), Steroid-Induced Cushing’s

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steroids

 

I am a recent transplant to San Diego and I am looking for a Cushings support group. I acquired adrenal insufficiency and Cushings about 3 years ago. I was given large amounts of steroids for numerous sinus infections, pneumonia, and bronchitis. I am 61.

I am trying to find an on-line or actual support group for Cushings folks or adrenal insufficiency. The last 3 years have been full of illness, numerous hospital stays, and a lonely road. I am tired of living alone with this health issue and would be happy to share my story with a group or others who have walked in similar shoes.

I take 25mg of hydrocortisone daily to maintain my current health status. I will check the message board for others like me and hopefully I can connect either in person or on-line with a group, I find that living with this health issue to be frustrating and at times depressing. I am trying to overcome being the disease rather than just a person who has Cushings. At times I just feel crummy for no other reason than my system is out of whack. I hope that I can find a group to be a part of and to hear their issues and offer any help I can from my experience. I am in the process of getting a medical team of doctors and see an endocrinologist in December.

This disease has had me on a roller coaster for 3 years. I don’t plan a lot of things ahead of the event since I never know how I will feel the next day. I am hoping there is someone else who has dealth with Cushings and what medications they are taking to make the disease manageable.
Thank you for reading this and offering any advice on locating a group with like health issues.

Vicki added a second version of her bio:

I have been living with adrenal insufficiency with a diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome. I was diagnosed in 2012 and was told that I received this condition from having been given large amounts of prednisone for pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus infections. I have no issues with my pituitary gland but I still demonstrate the same symptoms as someone with an official diagnosis of Cushing’s and live with taking steroids. I have the buffalo hump, the sweats, feel tired all the time, problems sleeping, moon face and weight gain as well as other symptoms. I have just moved to San Diego from Houston to be closer to our family. I am trying to find a group with the same type diagnosis or a group that I can be involved with to talk with. I realize that this condition is very rare and I am looking to be a part of a group where I can discuss the issues related with living with the diagnosis. I am very glad to have found this website where I am hopeful that there are others like me who also are looking for a group to discuss their issues.

It all started with a fainting episode in 2011. I broke my foot when I fell and saw a doctor the next day. I had been feeling so tired and sweating so much as well as having had the hump come up on my back a few years prior, which my doctor in Indiana didn’t think was anything but a dowager’s hump that could have been genetic.

I then became ill in 2012 with pneumonia and was hospitalized several times due to relapses of pneumonia and uti’s that put me in the hospital. I was having so much pneumonia and bronchitis on top of this other issues and was not getting any diagnosis other than adrenal insufficiency. in 2014 I had been hospitalized every month with one infection or another. My husband and I finally determined we were going to relocate to Houston, TX to see the doctors there. I was already on 40mg of hydrocortisone daily and still felt bad. I was almost gone on two different visits to the ER in Indiana and found myself on the floor unable to get up on one instance. I was on the floor unable to pull myself up for 7 hours in the dead of winter until my husband came home. I had renal failure and was not really expected to make it but I did. After a winter of these problems we decided that cutting off the hump on my back, as discussed by one doctor, was not the issue and we made plans to relocate to Houston in 2014.

I had a great team of doctors there and was diagnoised with Congestive Heart Failure, glaucoma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, GERD, fibromyalgia, connective tissue disease, osteoparsis, adrenal insufficiency, and cushing’s syndrome.

I was in the hosptial with one infection or another for 1.5 years due to pneumonia that was caused by aspiration into my lungs. I had surgery, Heiller Myotomy in July 2015 and from that point the pneumonia has stopped. Thank God.

Since that time, we relocated to California to be nearer to our daughter and her husband and I have not had to deal with the pneumonia but till deal with the adrenal insufficiency and the Cushing’s syndrome.

Maybe someone has been though some of these same issues and would like to talk about what they are experiencing. I am willing to share my experiences also.

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Amy (Amy), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed2

 

I have been going back and forth on whether to add a bio here because I don’t yet have a diagnosis. Also, it is really difficult to believe in myself sometimes and occasionally I feel relatively good. Some members of my family don’t support or believe me, but my husband is incredibly supportive and has been with me since my symptoms first started. My sister and my dad have both said to me that they don’t think anything is wrong with me and either implied of outright said that I am just depressed. They keep pushing me to continue with school even though I am taking two classes right now and can barely keep up with them at this point. I graduated from college a few years ago in biology and really would like to go on but don’t really feel like it is possible since I was barely able to get the degree in the end due to my energy levels (mental and physical). At this point I am going to L.A. to visit Dr. F next Tuesday so I am hoping that I will be getting a diagnosis and that something good will come out of this.

I think that my symptoms started as a sophomore in high school. I noticed that I was always tired for some reason and couldn’t seem to “wake up” mentally a lot of the time. I also developed cluster migraines that were particularly hideous. This is also when I noticed that I had a buffalo hump below my neck which I assumed was caused from a fall on my head when I was seven years old. The logic here doesn’t really make sense since I only developed neck and shoulder problems and pain in high school with no symptoms beforehand. I had chiropractic care for years for a stretched ligament in my neck that could never seem to heal. At this time I was very thin (5’8” and 140lbs) so there was no reason that I should have had a fatty lump at the base of my neck. I also had stretch marks on my sides at this weight. I have since gained around 90lbs (about 120 if you count some weight lost over the years due to drastic measures) and I am now 25 years old. There are a ton of stretch marks now all over my body from my knees to my elbows.

I really don’t have an explanation for the weight gain since I have never eaten much. Over the years I kept assuming that I was going to start losing weight because I kept making changes that should have led to weight loss. When I talked to anyone about it the problem was always me and what more I could be doing relating to something they randomly read about weight loss. There was always an explanation for why it wasn’t happening and why I needed to just try harder. I have continued to exercise throughout most of my “illness” either intensively (beachbody insanity several times, running daily) or light (walking or yoga). The intense times are unsustainable for me and it is incredibly hard to get dressed or take a shower let alone do intense physical activity. Nevertheless, I try to run or walk a little every day. In my diet I have made considerable changes such as becoming a vegetarian, vegan, going on juice fasts of vegetable juice for weeks, and just severe calorie limitations. Now I just stay under 2000 calories a day. Frequently I don’t eat very much because I don’t have the energy to make anything. Some people on here talked of acquaintances not recognizing them- I have the same thing. I felt ugly on my wedding because of my weight and have noticed that people are not as kind to the heavier me.

Whenever I talked about having low energy and feeling down the answer was to go to a counselor and that I was depressed. Counseling throughout college was to no effect. I honestly don’t think that I am depressed. I feel happy much of the time, but I’m just very tired and foggy and it is incredibly easy to feel down because of this.

My symptoms and the development of new ones have gotten much worse over the years. During college I had to take a semester off and towards the end I felt like there was no way to keep up with my class load even though I pretty much studied all day long. My memory is terrible and any classes that required memorization were impossible. I developed low grade fevers that continued off and on during the day for at least three months. I sought medical treatment and was tested for HIV, lyme, lupus, hypothyroidism, etc., but the cause never became apparent and I think my doctor lost interest in trying to figure out what it was. My doctor said I probably had PCOS because my testosterone was at the high side of normal, and an infectious disease doctor said I was just depressed. I was too tired to fight for myself and I thought maybe the stress and work of school was getting to me and maybe I really was just depressed. I thought that the weight, the brain fog, the aches, and the tiredness would go away once I removed myself from a stressful situation-it didn’t and has since gotten worse.

I just had a cortisol saliva test done that I ordered from ZRT labs and it indicated high cortisol, but it wasn’t that high and was lowered in the evening. I don’t really know what this means since I thought cortisol was supposed to remain high at night if you have Cushing’s, but I guess I will see what the doctor thinks next week. I have so many of the symptoms and I don’t know what else to do if I don’t end up having Cushing’s. Some other symptoms that I have experienced or that are persistent include: eczema on my fingers, round face, fat neck, sore joints (hands, feet, ankles, hips, shoulders, back) and muscles, excessive sweating, high blood pressure readings, becoming more awake at night and having trouble falling asleep, hip, ankle and foot pain, very dry hair and loss, trouble climbing stairs and descending due to weakness, lower back pain and more neck and shoulder pain (my hump is bigger), blood pounding in ears after little activity, blotchy arms and cheeks, acne on my chin, hirstruism, feeling swollen and uncomfortable, body stiffness, spinal cyst, lightheaded, shaky and clumsy, feeling hot (maybe hot flashes), long recovery from colds and chronic sinus infections, long recovery for injuries, arms and legs fall asleep easily, menstruation date fluctuates constantly, trouble giving blood, nausea and stomach problems, anxiety, twice a bump on the side of my cornea that was inflamed and I could visually see and feel, and a few instances where I had abdominal pain so bad that I couldn’t move. As far as easy bruising goes- I never know why I have bruises but I don’t get them often. I do have some other weird things with my skin such as having “sleep” marks from very short term positions that will not go away for a long time. Also, easy breaking of skin… I once used an electric massager on my back and didn’t realize until later that it had literally mauled me. I had horrible red and circular scratches and (now) a large scarred area. Other times I have had scratches so minor that they barely broke the skin, but I still have a scar…

Being sick all the time is a very humbling experience and at times it can be way too humbling to the point where I feel worthless. I hope there is more understanding and love for people experiencing pain on a daily basis since it seems to be much more common every day. It has been really beautiful to see on this forum the support that parents are giving to their children with Cushing’s and support from doctors and other family members. I don’t know if I would have believed I could have this if not for your stories and your personal struggles to get treatment. The more I read (scientific articles and medical information and bios) the more I recognized that what I was feeling all these years was real and could possibly get better. Thank you for reading my story.

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