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In Memory: Lori Holt ~ January 6, 2008

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Lori’s sister-in-law wrote: “I am Kimberly, sister-in-law to Lori from Monmouth IL.

During the first few days of September 2007, Lori had surgery to remove her adrenal gland.
She experienced extreme difficulty post surgery and never recovered.

I wish to inform all who might have known her on this board that she passed away on Sunday, January 6, 2008.

She was hopeful that the surgery would help her,
and loved and appreciated her many friends and others who supported her.

Thank you to everyone here who knew her and offered encouragement and hope.”


Lori’s sister-in-law wrote again : “I apologize for the time that has passed since you wrote the last e-mail. I have sent Lori’s obituary to you in an e-mail from a newspaper. (http://www.thehawkeye.com/Story/obit_Holt_010808)

There is one error in the obituary. She obtained her graduate degree from Northeast Missouri State Univ., not Southwest as stated.

Lori was truly remarkable, and especially so in her fight with Cushing’s Syndrome (adrenal).

Lori lived in a small town in west-central Illinois, not far from the Mississippi River. As you know (because I learned it on your website!), most doctors never see a case of Cushing’s. At some point during the summer of 2007, Lori diagnosed herself by doing research online. This is evident by some written things she left behind in her home, and in letters she wrote to doctors as she went about putting together a medical team.

She worked to find doctors who would perform the specific diagnostic tests to find the Cushing’s. She clearly knew by that point what she was looking for. Remarkably, she found several doctors who worked with her on this. Sadly, it was too late. In the last few years, she’d begun to gain weight, which perplexed her a great deal. She would occasionally call me or write e-mails, and in addition to telling about things going on with her life and work, she would mention her frustration at not being able to quite sort out just what was causing her health problems.

Lori was a deeply kind and caring person. She was a gentle soul, and loved her preschool children so very much. She never missed sending my two sons a card not only for birthdays but on every single holiday you can imagine — Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day. She was a single woman and worked with great determination to be self-sufficient.

She really loved her brothers, and was so glad as they married so she could have some “sisters” around. Once we moved from the Chicago area to northern Michigan in 1998, we didn’t see her often, and I regret that so much.

Lori fought her disease intelligently and valiantly. She suffered a lot while in the hospital between Labor Day weekend and when she died on Sunday, 1/5/08. At different points, she suffered from MRSA, shingles, and extreme breathing distress. I am quite certain that her body was just too spent by the disease to recover itself.

I thank you and all who might have been in contact with Lori during the very brief time she may have spent on your message board. I wish you all the very best in your continued struggle with disease and your on-going work to educate the public.

–Kim Jones


From http://www.thehawkeye.com/Story/obit_Holt_010808

Lori Holt

Lori A. Holt, 47, of Monmouth, Ill., died at 1:52 p.m. Jan. 6, 2008, at OSF St.Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill.

Born Oct. 7, 1960, in Galesburg, Ill., she was the daughter of Patrick M. and Patricia Noonan Holt.

Ms. Holt was a teacher at the Lutheran Preschool and Daycare Center in Monmouth for 11 years. She graduated from Galesburg High School and then graduated from Monmouth College with a bachelor’s degree. She also lettered all four years in volleyball, basketball and softball. She earned two master’s degrees in physical education and health from Western Illinois University and Southwest Missouri State. Ms. Holt played for the State of Illinois softball team at the national level for two years. She was head coach of women’s volleyball, basketball and softball at Spoon River College and was head coach of softball and basketball at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Ill. She was coach and athletic director at Costa Catholic High School in Galesburg for a number of years. Ms. Holt was a fan of the Green Bay Packers, the Boston Celtics and the St. Louis Cardinals. She was a member of Immaculate Conception Church in Monmouth.

Survivors include her parents of Knoxville, Ill.; five brothers, Frank Felz of Fort Worth, Texas, Michael Felz of Evanston, Ill., Paul Felz of Denver, Colo., Patrick Felz of Buffalo Grove, Ill., and Martin Holt of Grant Ranch, Colo.; nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her grandparents.

No visitation is planned. The body has been cremated. Turnbull Funeral Home in Monmouth is in charge of arrangements.

A memorial mass will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Immaculate Conception Church in Monmouth.

A memorial fund is being established for Lutheran Preschool and Daycare Center in Monmouth.

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In Memory: Jill’s Father ~ January 5, 2005

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Jill’s Father

January 5, 2005

Jill wrote: “In December 2004 my dad who had addison’s for over 30 years had a triple bypass surgery 6 days before Christmas. The surgery was an amazine success and it was predicted he would be home before Christmas. Day 2 following surgery the hospital neglected to give him his steriods for his Addison’s for 22 hours, which they were completely aware that he had. 7 mistakes by hospital staff lead my father into shock and multiple organ failure. The doctor’s did think he would make it through the day. He survived for another 16 days until he contracted a hospital bacteria which crossed over into his brain and caused massive brain damage. Jan. 5, 2005 we took him off life support. I have been search the internet to learn more about Addison’s and why this happened.

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In Memory of Bonny Hamm, October 12, 2009

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I did not know Bonny personally but she was an Australian  member of the Cushing’s Help message boards who rarely posted.  Her In Memory page on the boards is here: http://cushings.invisionzone.com/index.php?/topic/43923-rip-bonny/

She was only 45 at the time of her death October 12, 2009.  I’ve known far too many Cushies who have died far too young from this disease.

Bonnie’s Avatar

Bonny wrote July 1, 2009

I was sick with ALL the symptoms (about 30-40) for 5 years. Finally got correctly diagonosed and had my left Adrenal Gland and its tumour removed in June 2007. The recovery was long and hellish. The worst symptom after the operation was 3 months of constant itching literally from my scalp to my heels and every inch of skin in between. I also had pain in every single joint of my body, along with all the pre op symptoms that took a long long time to improve.

Now two and a half years on, I have a second tumour… on the same side! No idea how that can be seeing as the gland is gone. My Endo is overseas so until he comes back I don’t know much, but they are running more tests and I am waiting for a surgery date to go through it all over again!

All the symptoms are horrible, but last time I particularly hated the fractures (still have a few of those),as they made life so difficutlt and painful, but also relly hated losing half my hair, and the weight gain and moon face. Feeling awful is terrible, but when you add the things that make you look horrible too, its pretty hard to take.

As a single parent, (divorced), life is very hard with Cushings as you don’t have anyone else to do the things for you that you cant do yourself, or help you with your own personal stuff.

Before and after Cushings

Before and after Cushing’s pictures.

Rest in peace, Bonny!

Beth said it best on Facebook

(I) lost a very strong, courageous friend to the very disease she suffers from.. your pain is gone now, Bonny.. Rest well and thank you for touching my life. ♥

Mike H, Steroid-Induced Cushing’s Bio

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i am a 65 year old male who was diagnose with cushings about 7 yrs ago

i have no adrenal glands that are working

i have to take prednisone to keep me from crashing

am now a diabetic and have heart failure

i spend 99% of my life in bed i am very weak and in pain most of the time , my family doctor keep giving me prenisone and never gave my body a break from this drug so now what caused me to be so sick is what i have too take to stay alive.

my doctors now really dont no that much about cushings so i feel as though i am just stuck ,

 

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In Memory: Janice, Tuesday, September 4, 2001

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Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Double click to see these ribbons
used in Janice’s memory.

On the message boards, Lorrie wrote: Our dear friend, Janice died this past Tuesday, September 4, 2001. I received an IM from her best friend Janine, tonight. Janine had been reading the boards, as Janice had told her about this site, and she came upon my name and decided to IM me. I am grateful that she did. She said that she knew that Janice would want all of us to know that she didn’t just stop posting.

For all of the newcomers to the board that did not know Janice, she was a very caring individual. She always had something positive to say. Janice was 36 years old, was married and had no children. She had a miscarriage in December and began to have symptoms of Cushing’s during that pregnancy. After the pregnancy, she continued to have symptoms. When discussing this with her doctor, she was told that her symptoms were just related to her D&C. She did not buy this and continued until she received the accurate diagnosis of Cushing’s Syndrome (adrenal) in March of 2001. Tragically, Janice’s tumor was cancerous, a very rare form of Cushing’s.

Janice then had her tumor and adrenal gland removed by open adrenalectomy, a few months ago. She then began chemotherapy. She was very brave through this even though she experienced severe side effects, including weakness and dizziness. She continued to post on this board at times and even though she was going through so much, she continued with a positive attitude. She even gave me a referral to a doctor a few weeks ago. She was my inspiration. Whenever I thought I had it bad, I thought of what she was dealing with, and I gained more perspective.

Janice was having difficulty with low potassium levels and difficulty breathing. She was admitted to the hospital, a CT scan was done and showed tumor metastasis to the lungs. She then was begun on a more aggressive regimen of chemo. She was discharged and apparently seemed to be doing well.

The potassium then began to drop again, she spiked a temp and she was again admitted to the hospital. She improved and was set to be discharged and then she threw a blood clot into her lungs. She was required to be put on a ventilator. She apparently was at high risk for a heart attack. Her husband did not want her to suffer anymore and did not want her to suffer the pain of a heart attack and so chose for the doctors to discontinue the ventilator on Tuesday. She died shortly thereafter.

Funeral services will be on Tuesday.

Janice was our friend. She was a Cushie sister. I will always remember her. Janine asked me to let her know when we get the Cushing’s ribbons made as she and the rest of Janice’s family would like to wear them in her memory. She said that Janice would want to do anything she could to make others more aware of Cushing’s.


A Poem written in Janice’s Memory:

JANICE’s POEM

When I Am Done
When the leaves settle
Among the earths soil
Then will I find peace
For all my work and toil.

Know not I when it will be
But of its happening, it’s a certainty
For once sick in body
Though healed in time
Can never be wiped clean
Of the illnesses grime.

The stamp of death
Left upon this soul
Will never have reason to fear
It’s pearly gates that have come, for some
But for me only when I am done.

~Adrienne Lilley

Written in Janice’s memory, may she rest in peace always.

One thing about Cushings—I no longer fear death. But I sure do embrace life.

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Elaine, Adrenal and Pituitary Bio

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I have a tumot in both the pitutiary gland as well as the adrenal gland and doctors dont know which is secreting very high levels of of cortisol.

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In Memory: Jessica Lee Pierson, August 29, 2018

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Jessica Lee Pierson, 35, of Harrisonburg passed away Wednesday, August 29, 2018 from complications of Addison’s disease.

Jess was born in Fredericksburg on June 27, 1983, to Janet Pierson and her late husband, Charles Parke Pierson. Jess attended James Monroe High School where she was a stellar athlete and honor scholar. After graduating from James Madison University, she spent two years on the mission field in Peru, sharing her love for the Lord. Residing in Harrisonburg, Jessica excelled at her job as a social worker for Rockingham County and nurtured her clients with compassion, respect, and gentleness. She was an active member of Covenant Presbyterian Church, continually embraced by her family of faith who journeyed with her since her days as a college student.

Jess had a beautiful smile, and a sweet and simple demeanor that won the hearts of many, who even now are being inspired by her witness of faith. She was utterly devoted to and dearly loved by her close-knit family.

Survivors include her mother, Jan Pierson and husband Frank Graebner; brothers Daniel Pierson (Anne) and Christopher Pierson (Elissa); and sister Emily Moore (Michael). Her signature gift of loving thoughtfulness, especially in her role as “Tia” to her beloved niece and nephews, Mary Claire, Lukas, Nicholas, and Parke, overflowed through her kindheartedness, unselfishness, and generosity, and will never be forgotten.

Interment will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 1 at Oak Hill Cemetery. A service to celebrate her life will follow at 11 a.m. at Fredericksburg Baptist Church.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Missions Ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, 32 Southgate Court, Harrisonburg, VA 22801 or Fredericksburg Baptist Church.

From https://www.covenantfuneralservice.com/obituary?id=319105

Barbara S (Babs1953), Adrenal Bio

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Was finally diagnosed in Feb of this year.

Had surgery mid March to take left adrenal.

Am still on 3mg prednisone daily. Lots of joint muscle aches, headaches, hair falling out, dry skin, split nails… sleeping a bit better but tired during day,can’t walk long or stand without feeling like I’ll hit the ground any minute.

Any weight lost right after surgery is back!

 

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Kendra D, Adrenal Bio

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My journey to writing this bio started in 2014, 34 years old.  I ended up in an emergency room in Denver while travelling with severe and unknown abdominal pain.  It came on rapidly during a lunch and I was taken to hospital via ambulance from my hotel room.  Luckily, in Denver, you get a CT scan when there is something wrong with you.  The source of the abdominal pain was never determined, however, the attending physician gave me a CD of the CT, letting me know they had observed a small tumor on the left adrenal gland and even though likely benign, I should discuss with my family physician in Canada.

Back home, I did let my family doctor know and they dismissed it.  Over the next year, I struggled with weight gain and depression, since a surgery the year prior to treat WPW (Wolf Parkinson Whyte syndrome).  It’s an extra electrical pathway in the heart that produced rapid heartbeat (SVT), starting in 2011.  3 years and several physicians later, I underwent and electrocardiogram catheter ablation after a trip to the emergency room with a heartbeat of over 200 BPM’s for approx. 5 hours.  Luckily the emerg room physician was also a cardiologist.  He recognized a small irregularity on my ECG.  I was admitted that night and had the procedure done in 5 days.  After that procedure, I noticed a decline in my energy.  Started gaining weight and just didn’t feel like I had.  I chalked it up to the rapid heart rate accounting for all the gusto I used to have not being a medical professional and that being the only real change in my life to date.

I went to see a naturopath to discuss my symptoms and try to find some answers.  I was ‘diagnosed’ with adrenal fatigue syndrome which I’m sure many of you have heard of.  And you also know how much the mainstream medical community thinks of the ‘condition’.  Not much.  But the books I’d read fit my situation and I went down the road of hormone replacement therapy.  Months of hard to find prescription pills and creams that are not covered by insurance became the bain of my existence and I wasn’t seeing measurable improvements.  I became frustrated and started cleansing, diets, supplements, and working out regularly.  Between strict diet control and working out hardcore daily (crossfit, running, weights), I started to feel pretty good.  I also started taking antidepressants, which really pushed my energy levels up, especially in the initial 6 months.  Then they would plateau, so I would try something different.  Same thing over and over.

That was the last 3 years of my life.  Trying a new drug.  A new routine.  A new relationship.  A long yo yo of up’s and down’s.  If I gained weight and felt lousy, I attributed it to the pills not working anymore.  A relationship that wasn’t working.  Stress.  Work.  Being a single parent.  If I changed something up, I could lose the weight.  If I looked good, I felt good.  That was the litmus test – never mind the depression and anxiety that was ever present.

In 2018, I began to put on weight.  I began to suffer from unmanageable anxiety/depression.  I was so tired, I completely stopped going to the gym.  I went to see the doctor about a new antidepressant.  In the clinic, they noticed my blood pressure was unusually high and started to monitor.  I was prescribed a high blood pressure medication as well as a new antidepressant.  The antidepressant was intense.  I started reading up and what I read scared me.  In conjunction with high blood pressure, I started to really consider that I’m possibly doing more harm than good.  Plus, I was not feeling better like I had in the past.

I quit both the antidepressant and the HBP meds.  Started up with the more natural approach – CBD.  Supplements.  Giving myself a break from hard core exercise.  And reading.  Everything.  In 6 months, I had gained approx. 40 lbs and weighed as much as I had the day I gave birth to my son.  My depression was unmanageable.  I was going through a lot of work/relationship stress as well.  I had tried the ‘chill out’ approach and it simply was not working.  I went back to the doctor, who referred me to an endocrinologist.  I remember bawling in her office bc I felt like a failure and a total loser.  Admitting how my weight had spiraled out of control and how I could not manage my mental health and I’d stopped taking my prescription for HBP – I felt crazy.  She looked me in the eyes and promised to do everything she could to figure out what was wrong.  In that moment, I felt like maybe there was something wrong, maybe I wasn’t crazy.  TBD.

So we spent the next year doing all of the tests.  High cortisol being the constant result.  I started back on a HBP med that acts also a diuretic – which at least helped with water weight.  At the end of all the testing, my endo revealed that she suspected cushing’s syndrome and since we knew there was an adrenal tumor from way back, we re scanned and determined it had doubled in size.  Good chance it could be the culprit, especially if increased in size, it’s a good indication that it is active.  She referred me to one of the best endo surgeons in Calgary and let me know that if her diagnosis did not make me a candidate for an adrenalectomy, the surgeon would not perform it.

I’ve spent the last several months not knowing what to expect.  I think many of you can relate to living in a state of being thankful for an answer but still in disbelief.  I still battle in my head with ‘did I cause this’, ‘is this actually what’s making me sick’, ‘what if I remove my adrenal gland and I never feel good again’, ‘what if the tumor isn’t the culprit’.  I have one last CT scan upcoming Aug 7, prior to setting a surgery date and suspect it will fall within a few weeks of the scan.  I’m looking forward to getting it over with one minute and then feeling really scared the next.

I know I can’t live my life in my current state so I have to proceed with whatever solutions are being offered to me.  That rationale promotes a positive mindset.  But it’s one day at a time.  Some days I feel great, some days I can’t get out of bed.  Still living a yo yo life.  My work keeps me pre-occupied and gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  My therapist helps keep me sane.  No antidepressants.  My family has been a great support.  Most people have never heard of Cushing’s so I just stopped telling people. It is isolating.  People assume I’ve gained weight bc people get fat.  And I have to just embrace where I’m at and not let that affect me so negatively.  This is a rare disease.  I’m excited to share more of this journey on the other side.  These bios have given me such peace of mind over the last several months.  Thank you for listening.

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In Memory: Kate Myers ~ June 23, 2014

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kate-fbkate

Kate (Fairley on the Cushing’s Help message boards)  was only 46 when she died on June 23, 2014.  Her board signature read:

After 2 failed pit surgeries and a CSF leak repair,
BLA on Sept. 11, 2008 w/Dr. Fraker at UPenn
Gamma knife radiation at UPenn Oct. 2009
Now disabled and homebound. No pit, no adrenals and radiation damage to my hypothalamus.
My cure is God’s will, and I still have hope and faith!

During her too-short life, she provided help and support to other Cushies.

Her National Geographic video in 2007

Her BlogTalkRadio Interview in 2008: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cushingshelp/2008/07/17/interview-with-kate-fairley

Articles to help others:

Kate’s Family Letter
Kate’s Packing Suggestions For Surgery
Kate’s Pituitary Surgery Observations

Kate’s bio from 2008:

Hi y’all! I will try to make this short, but there is a lot to say.

I stumbled across this board after a google search last night. Yesterday, I finally saw a real endocrinologist. I am 39 years old. I weigh 362. I was diagnosed by a reproductive endocrinologist with PCOS at age 30, but all of my symptoms started at age 22.

At age 22, I was an avid runner, healthy at 140-145 pounds and 5’7″. I got a knee injury and stopped running right around the time that my periods just….stopped. And by stopped, I mean completely disappeared after mostly regular periods since age 12. I was tested by the student health clinic at UGA, and referred to an obgyn for lap exploration for endometriosis, which was ruled out. I remember that they ran some bloodwork and ultimately came back with this frustrating response: We don’t know what it is, but it’s probably stress-related because your cortisol is elevated.

Soon thereafter, I gained 80 pounds in about 6 months, and another 30 the next six months. Suddenly, in one year, I was 110 pounds heavier than my original weight of 140. I recall my mom and sister talking about how fast I was gaining weight. At the time, I blamed myself: I wasn’t eating right, I’d had to stop running due to the knee injury and my metabolism must have been “used” to the running; I was going through some family problems, so it must be that I’m eating for emotional reasons related to depression. You name the self-blame category, and I tried them all on for size.

Whatever the reason, I stopped avoiding mirrors and cameras. The person looking back at me was a stranger, and acquaintances had stopped recognizing me. A bank refused to cash my security deposit refund check from my landlord when I graduated because I no longer looked like my student ID or my driver’s license. I was pulled over for speeding while driving my dad’s Mercedes graduation weekend, and the cop who pulled me over almost arrested me for presenting a false ID. These are some really painful memories, and I wonder if anyone here can relate to the pain of losing your physical identity to the point that you are a stranger to yourself and others?

Speaking of size, from age 24 to 26 I remained around 250, had very irregular periods occuring only a few times a year (some induced), developed cystic acne in weird places, like my chest, shoulders, buttocks (yikes!), found dark, angry purple stretch marks across my abdomen (some of which I thought were so severe that my insides were going to come out through them) which I blamed on the weight gain, the appearance of a pronounced buffalo hump (which actually started at age 22 at the beginning of the weight gain), dark black hairs on my fair Scottish chin (and I’m talking I now have to shave twice daily), a slight darkening of the skin around my neck and a heavy darkening of the skin in my groin area, tiny skin tags on my neck. I was feeling truly lovely by graduation from law school and my wedding to my wonderful DH.

At age 26, I ballooned again, this time up to 280-300, where I stayed until age 32, when I went up to 326. The pretty girl who used to get cat calls when she ran was no more. She had been buried under a mountain of masculined flesh. I still had a pretty, albeit very round, face, though. And I consoled myself that I still have lovely long blonde hair — that is, until it started falling out, breaking off, feeling like straw.

At age 30, I read about PCOS on the internet and referred myself to a reproductive endocrinologist, who confirmed insulin resistance after a glucose tolerance test. I do not know what else he tested for — I believe my testosterone was high. He prescribed Metformin, but after not having great success on it after 5-6 months, I quit taking it, and seeing him. Dumb move.

Two years later, at age 32, I weighed 326. In desperation, I went on Phentermine for 3 months and lost 80 pounds the wrong way, basically starving. I was back down to 240-250, where I remained from age 33-35. After the weight loss, I got my period a few times, and started thinking about trying to have a baby. Many ultrasounds per month over a few months revealed that I just wasn’t ovulating. I decided to put off starting the family when the doctor started talking about IVF, etc. It just seemed risky to me — my body, after all, felt SICK all the time, and I couldn’t imagine carrying a baby and it winding up to be healthy.

At age 35, I ballooned again, this time significantly — from 240 to 320 in the space of 6 months. Another 45 pounds added by age 37, so that’s 125 pounds in two year. I’ve remained between 345-365 for the last two years, depending on how closely I was following my nutritionist’s recommended 1600 calorie per day diet….which was not all the time.

Which takes me to last year. I went for a physical because I wasn’t feeling well, kept getting sick, had a lot of fatigue, weird sweating where my hair would get totally drenched for no reason. At this point, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, hypothyroism (which has now been modified to Hashimoto’s thyroidis), high cholesterol (although this was present at age 30 when I got the PCOS diagnosis). I went back to my repro-endo, and resolved to make myself stay on Metformin this time. All last year was a series of monthly blood work and attempts to lose weight with an eye toward trying to get pregnant this year. By the end of the year, I was successful in taking off only 20 pounds, and my repro-endo (always with an eye toward fertility and not health), really pushed me to give up on losing weight at that moment and to start taking Clomid. Or else, he said. The words that broke my heart: this may be your last chance.

So, skip forward to January 2006. My ovaries are blown out and they are clear — no blockages. I get cleared to start fertility treatments. My husband undergoes his own embarrassing tests. I think we have an agenda here, but my mind was chewing on serious concerns that I was simply too unhealthy to be considering trying this. That, and I felt it would be a futile effort.

By the way, more than a year on the Metformin with no real changes to anything. Why doesn’t my body respond to it like other people with PCOS?

Then late March, I started experiencing extreme fatigue. And I’m not talking about the kind where you need to take a nap on a Sunday afternoon to gear up for the week ahead (which I’d always considered a nice indulgence, but not a necessity). I’m talking debilitating, life-altering fatigue. It didn’t start out right away to be debilitating — or maybe I just made the usual excuses as I always do relating to my health: I’m still getting over that flu/cold from last month. I just got a promotion at work (though I note a greatly reduced stress and caseload now that I am a managing attorney. My weight is causing it. Whatever.

I let it go on for a full two months before I started to really worry, or admit to myself that my quality life had taken a serious downward turn. You see, despite my weight and my scary appearance, I have always been the “director” type. By that I mean that last year, I worked with two other women to direct 100 volunteers to start a summer camp for inner city kids, and I had enough energy to run this ambitious new project and to film, produce and edit a 30 minute documentary on it by the end of the summer.

In contrast, I had to take a backseat this year. I basically sat in a chair and answered the questions of volunteers, made a few phone calls here and there, and was simply a “presence” in case something major went wrong. Such a major change from the year before, where I was running the whole show 14 hours a day and loving it.

But I am getting ahead of myself. (Is anyone still reading this? I must be narcissitic to think so….yet, I wonder if anyone else has gone through a similar progression….)

Back to May. After two months of this fatigue, I change to a new primary care physician and get a whole workup: blood, urine, thyroid ultrasound, cardiac stress test, liver ultrasound when my enzymes, which had been slightly elevated, were found to have doubled since January. Appointments with a gastroenterologist, and FINALLY….a REAL endocrinologist. Ruled out any serious liver problems (and my levels, surprisingly, dropped back to the slightly elevated level in a space of 3 weeks and no treatment).

Yesterday, I heard a word I’d only heard spoken once before in my life: Cushings. Way back when I was 22 and had started gaining weight so rapidly, I had a boyfriend who worked the graveyard shift at the local hospital. He spent the better part of a non-eventful week of nights pouring over medical books in the library. He excitedly showed me the pages he’d photocopied, which had sketches of a woman with a very rounded face (like mine), striae on her stomach (like mine), abdomenal obesity (like mine) and a pronounced buffalo hump. Although my former boyfriend was just a college student working his way through his music degree by earing some money moonlighting as a hospital security guard, he was the first one to note all of these tell-tale signs.

When I got my diagnosis of PCOS, I remember discounting his amateur diagnosis, and I never thought of it again.

Until yesterday, when my new endo asked me if anyone had ever tested my cortisol or if I’d ever done a 24 hour urine test. I said no, and he started writing out the referral form along with like 15-20 different blood tests. And although we’d started our appointment with him telling me he agreed with my repro-endo’s encouragement to go ahead and try to get pregnant if I can, by the end of the visit, he was telling me not everyone is meant to be a parent, there is always adoption, etc. The only thing that happened during the appointment was that I gave him my basic history of weight gain, described the fatigue, and let him examine my striae, buffalo hump and legs (which were hidden under a long straight skirt). The question about the urine screen and corisol came after this physical exam, during which he was taking lots of notes.

Then the word, which was not spoken directly to me but to his nurse practioner as I was making my two-week appointment in the reception area outside the examining room: “She looks classic Cushings. I’ll be interested to get those results.”

Cushings. Cushings. No– that’s not me. I’m not that weird-shaped, hairy, mannish-looking, round-faced, hump-backed creature my boyfriend had shown me a picture of 16 years earlier. I have PCOS, right? It’s just my fault. I don’t eat right. If I’d just eat better, I wouldn’t be 2.5 times my weight in college. Right?

I quickly came home and did an internet search. Within an hour, I was sitting in front of the computer, reading some bios here and BAWLING, just crying some body-wracking sobs as I looked at the pictures of the people on this board. Here, here (!!!!) is an entire community who has the same, wrenchingly painful picture-proven physical progression that I went through. The same symptoms and signs. Words of encouragement — of….hope. I didn’t feel scared to read about the possibility of a pituitary tumor — last year, I had a brain MRI of the optic nerve because of sudden vision irregularities, headaches and shooting eye pain. The MRI showed nothing, but then again, the image was not that great because I had to go into the lower-resolution open MRI due to my size.

I have no idea whether I have Cushing’s Syndrome or not, but these are my first steps in my journey of finding out. After living my entire adult life with an array of progressive, untreatable, brushed-off symptoms (and years of self-blame for depression, obesity, becoming so unattractive), there was a major “click” as I read this site, and a sense of relief that maybe, just maybe, what I have has a name, I’m not crazy/fat/ugly/lazy, the PCOS diagnosis, which has gotten me nowhere is incorrect, and I might have something TREATABLE.

So, without going so far as to say I hope for a diagnosis, I am hopeful for some definitive answers. If my urine tests are inconclusive (and my doctor only ordered one and no serum cortisol tests), I am going to fly out to L.A. and see Dr. Friedman for a full work up.

And, I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you for posting your stories, which have encouraged me to advocate for myself in a manner and direction, which this time, may be fruitful.

Be well, my new friends,
Kate

p.s. I will post some pictures this week after I scan some of the “after” one….I try to avoid the camera at all costs. I’m sure you understand just what I’m talking about, and for that, I am truly grateful.

 

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