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Danielle, Undiagnosed (Cyclical Cushing’s)

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May-Aug 2013 Age 17-18

I started noticing that i was losing weight. My arms and legs looked like toothpicks and i had bruises everywhere. i was fairly active i would run and lift weights everyday minus some weekends. Till i couldnt no more. I became very very weak, i was tired and fatigued all the time no matter how much sleep i got. I would wake up 5-8 times a night to pee, i was constantly hungry. Omgsh never not hungry i could eat and eat and eat but i still wasnt big. I was “too skinny”. My hair started to fall out in clumps , i would get these attacks where i would have insane blurry vision, i would become super pale and my stomach would blow up like a balloon. i would have terrible back and stomach pains , ringing in my ears.I would started shaking,my speech would become slurred and all over the place. I would not be able to walk straight or think clearly. I was very scared and i hated everytime these would happen. They usually hit the more active i was. so if i would run or even jog/ walk for more than 15 min it would hit. i became scared of doing anything

More symptoms: Constipation
drooling
Muscles felt like they were eating them selves
terrible headaches
no period
thirsty!!!!!
Constant! urination
muscle twitches
muscle spasms and jerks
waking up every hour
terrible acid reflux! it would wake me up

SEPT 2013
weight 115-120lbs

I started working for my father at his shop in sept 2013.I did not last very long. I got to the point where i was dying. I was sick every week, my periods had stopped , i would spot every day. I couldnt think AT ALL i felt so stupid. Like i was in a haze , i started getting really bad hypoglycemea ,which made things even worse. Despite eating so much food it would not go away.
I should mention my moods, I have always been more aggressive and loud happy go getter, i noticed that i was extremely irritable.. and jumpy all the time. I would cry for no reason and my anxiety was getting worse and my anger was like never before. One day after days and days of struggling to work, i went to the grocery store with my father , and i was not able to push the shopping cart, i almost fainted and had to have him take me to the car. Mind u my whole family knows me as “the strong one” . I was benching 220 lbs at 14, now i couldnt push a shopping cart. He couldnt believe it and i stopped working a week later. I had too many things going on i knew i had to get them sorted before i could go back to work and then go to collage.

I went to the doc who sent me to an Endocrinologist. She tested me,
LOW GH
LOW FSH
LOW THYROID
HIGH URINE OUTPUT
LOW LH

At this point i just wanted to get fixed. She told me i had to gain weight in order for my sex hormones to bump up and maybe id feeel a bit better. So i docs orders and started to eat, when ever i was hungry.. which was alot.
i came back to see her a month later, and i had gained 35 lbs!My skin was not as dry, still bruising,and terrible headaches but i had way more energy. I thought i was getting better. Little did i know my tests did not show that. I had cortisol levels 7x the normal limit, my urine out put was very high. I did a 24 hour urine test an filled 3 jugs. She suggested maybe diabetes insipidus and also.. a brain tumor. I was kinda freaked when i heard the word tumor but i just wanted to feel normal . As long as i could get help i didnt care.

2014
i did another dex which came back positive for cushings, i had to do one more and my tests suddenly dropped again. After a few more dexa tests coming back neg she ended up dismissing me and told me that i do not have cushings.

Note: I Did have a neg Pituitary mri
and adrenal

I was heartbroken . i thought that this was my way out to finally feel normal or at least ok.
She sent me to another endo who refused to see me. So i started seeing a naturopath, i spent 800$ the first day of seeing her and all those natural supps, dieting recommendations she gave me did not do a thing. TMI I also went to get a colonic and colonoscopy around this time because i just could not go . And i was pooping out blood.They said everything was okay and that it may have been hemmeroids.

2015
Specialists:
ENDO
E.N.T
Nephrologist

My family doctor suggested maybe i have fibro.. then celiac.. then hashimotos.. then maybe MS? She finally sent me to ANOTHER Endo after those tests were NEG , who said he could not help me the first day of meeting him. During this time i was devloping social anxiety .It was very hard for me to talk to people which isnt like me at all. Seeing as i was a social butterfly.My face would go beat red after any little stress i had. i hated it! i had been seeing and E.N.T because i was coughing out blood. They told me i had cysts in my nasal passages and it was nothing to worry about. And that i also have damage in my esophagus due to the acid . She prescribed me Tecta.I even saw a nephrologist because i was constantly thirsty and constantly urinating. He was the worst doc i have ever seen. He told me i knew too much and i walked out because he could not help me.My energy levels were erratic. Some days i would have so much energy and clean clean clean want to run and do everythiing! , other days i would get out of bed and crash very quickly.This was becoming a burden.

2016 Aged :21
Still trying to get help
moved
weight: 165 (gained)
Specialists: Sleeping
Neuro

I became very frustrated and sad of always being let down and disapointed by all these doctors. I kind of gave up for a bit.i saw two last specialists which were sleeping specialist and a neurologist . which did nothing but prescribe me sleeping pills for my insomnia.The neuro did tell me that the symptoms i am having were not caused by cushings, so he started me on topiramate. An antiepileptic drug.

I finally contacted a pituitary specialist downtown toronto. And thank the heavens ! i got an answer! CYCLICAL cushings. He told me im 99% to have cushings i just need one more biochemical confirmation. He have me a T3 MRI of my pituitary which show an enlargment right side pituitary. “One more test and we can go in there and operate” i was ecstatic! so happy to have finally found someone who can help me.

i tested and tested but my results came back Neg, or just a little bit higher. a few months later He told me that he will keep testing me but he does not think it is cushings anymore. Another heartbreak 😦

2017
moved again
aged 21
Specialists:ENDO

I now have another dexa test and a 24 hour urine.I need this last one and they will operate . during this i am trying to move out to ANY cheap apartment because my father does not help me at all. He makes me much worse and i have no where to go other than his place. He is a big burden and does not understand what im going through at all, i have had two hospital visits this year due to overdose. This is something that i thought i would never do in my entire life, but it happened. I can not handle living like this especially when i have someone putting me down and denying my disease everyday. I am seeing a therapist now and a psychiatrist but the pills they give me do not help when i cannot live my life or work through any of my problems. I have gone to a shelter but this disease does not make it easy for me to live there.I only have my partner helping me right now . ANY donations would be greatly appreciated. !!!!!!!

this is my go fund me to help me get out of here in the mean time.
Thank you so much for reading my story and anyone,, feel free to email me or ask me questions.
i am i gona keep this updated when i go to docs or get any new info

 

Please email Danielle for the URL to her GoFundMe Page

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Abigail B (helpmepleez), Pituitary Bio

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The pituitary gland

The pituitary gland

 

 

I am 35 and I have been sick for the 13 years since May 2003, and for the first 12 years I did not have the correct diagnosis. My symptoms first started out with what seemed like sinus infections after sinus infection since then I have seen every different type specialist all across the country from the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and doctor from all the top hospitals in NYC.

Three years ago I took a 24hr urine cortisol test that came back high (74) however after a negative dexamethasone test the endocrinologist ruled out cushings disease. I retook the 24hr urine test again the next year and the results were high 24hr urine (129) and negative dexamethasone test.

Over the past 4 months i have taken 8 -24hr urine test with the results between 60 -135 and I still can not get a positive dexamehtasone test or a positive saliva test.

My ACTH level is 8.

I had a mri that shows pitutary microadenoma

CT scan of my adrenals came back negative.

I tried ketoconazole raised the dose it to 1200mg a day without it helping at all. My symptoms got worse and cosrtisol levels were still between 45-60 (they got higher after raising the dose.

I have also gained weight usually in sudden burst of 2-3 lbs in one weekend even if I do not eat anything extra,

The doctor thinks I have cyclic cushings however without a two biochemical results documenting the cause of the increase cortisol he is at a loss how to proceed.

 

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Sharon M (Sharon), Ectopic Cushing’s

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lungs

 

I was diagnosed with Cushings in 2005. I had surgery in 2006 which required my lower right lung to be removed. Mine was rare because my symptoms cycled.

After having surgery in April of 2006, I was doing very good. All my symptoms went away, I lost weight, worked out and had few bad days. However, 3 years ago, I started feeling fatiqued and sick a lot. Now, about 6 months ago, almost all my endocrine problems are back. I’m not showing any outward signs though..

I’m seeing my Endocrinologist again and being retested because now I am not doing good at all.

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Jeanne, Pituitary Cushing’s and Acromegaly Bio (Golden Oldie)

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golden-oldie

 

During the summer of 1999 I was a trim and fit 130 pound woman. I was very athletic and worked out all the time. At that time I had also been taking Tae Kwon Do. I was able to eat anything that I wanted and not gain weight. I wore size 8 pants.

Fast forward to May of 2000. I developed increasing stomach and bowel problems. I had a spastic colon and serious GERD. Along with that came a poof in my belly. Although I was still wearing the same size my stomach started to look “pregnant”. I was referred to a gastroenterologist who began treating my myriad of health issues. He really couldn’t find a reason for all of it but said he could treat it. For awhile I managed okay on the drugs and diet that I was treated with. Everything went in cycles.

During the summer of 2001 my naturally light blonde hair began to change color. It got black and mousy looking at the roots. At the same time it started thinning, the texture was horrible and no longer shiny and baby soft. I developed heat intolerance. I was uncomfortable in 80 degree weather. I also developed strange rashes and red dots on my skin. Later that fall my neck and face started to turn beet red. It stayed that way.

I could no longer fit in my wedding rings and my shoe size went from a size 7 ½ to and 8 1/2. Doctors didn’t find this impressive. My neck went from 13 inches around to 16. I gained 12 pounds in 1 week alone. I started getting real fat in my stomach and armpits, and I could no longer wear normal bras. I also started getting a lot of fat on my upper back. I grew hair in places that women should not grow hair. My face was huge with strange acne outbreaks. I also got acne in weird spots.

At the time I had put on about 20 pounds all in my stomach. When I would try other clothing it wouldn’t work because the next size bigger fit in the waist but the butt and legs were huge. I gave up on real pants and started to wear stretch clothes all the time. At this time I could no longer exercise to my peak performance. I was tired all the time and never felt well and I looked like I was 6 months pregnant. I thought that I was getting old.

January of 2002 my bowel and stomach troubles peaked. I was in and out of the hospital. Although I was following the healthy eating plan and exercising no doctors believed me. My PCP did a TSH test and it came back at 27.48. I was hypothyroid, at that time my estradiol levels were also non-existent. So off I was sent to an Endocrinologist. I was given replacements for both yet nothing improved.

This started an intense year of doctors. I was diagnosed with anything and everything at this point. I was started on the Atkins diet plan. I followed this religiously and walked for up to 2 hours a day and continued to gain weight. By this time I was 165 pounds. Finally realizing that something horrible was wrong with me I started seeking out Endo’s on my own. It led me to one who thought he should do a few 24 UFC’s. One came back high, 2 others came back high normal (33.4 and 33.9 with a range of 2.9-34). They then did serum cortisols which came back below normal. I was frustrated.

It was November by now and I was getting no where fast. At this point I had seen 11 different doctors. The last of which told me that there was no way I was eating healthy and not losing. He even suggested that my fresh sliced berry snack was making me fat. By now I’ developed high blood pressure and high blood sugars. My fasting blood glucose came in at 170.

By this time I was so exhausted and developed such horrid bone pain that I could not even exercise anymore. I remember waking up late one morning and crying. I went downstairs and told my hubby I was sure my back was breaking. It was horrible. I weighed 196 pounds and looked 9 months pregnant with triplets.

I came home and looked the tests up on the internet. I started reading everything that I could find. I knew then that I had Cushing’s. I found the Cushing’s help site. The trouble was that some tests were normal and some were abnormal. Finally in January of 2003 I went to see Dr. Friedman after another patient emailed me. Dr. Friedman tested my 17-Hydroxysteroids and 17- Ketosteroids which came back elevated. He also did some additional salivary cortisols testing. He finally figured out that I not only had Cyclic Cushing’s but also Acromegaly.

After many more tests and some MRI’s my tumors were found. I had pituitary surgery to remove them. I was devastated that I was not cured from the Cushing’s. After much consulting I decided to proceed with a Bilateral Adrenalectomy to cure it once and for all. I am recovering slowly but surely.

I am now 4 months post-op.

Click any thumbnail to view the larger image.

Before Cushing’s [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

In the kitchen [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

Jinxie [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

Jinxie [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

 

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Rsh (Rsh), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed3

I am currently undergoing tests for cushing’s as I have all of the symptoms including 50 pound weight gain in 6 months, thin skin, buffalo hump, mid body weight gain, new diabetes and new high blood pressure, red spots on my face.

Some of the tests have come up high but some have come up normal so my endocrine doctor is thinking perhaps I have cyclical cushing’s. Becoming very frustrated as I continue to gain about 10 pounds a month ( have not changed my diet which is low carb).

I hope to have some answers soon, but the Dr wants me to wait another two months to test again.

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Elizabeth F (ElizabethF), Suspected Cushing’s

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Born with congenital hypothyroid (which was undiagnosed until 45). My thyroid is the size of a lima bean!

Discovered that I was exposed in utero and as a toddler to sky-high amounts of dioxins — i.e., Agent Orange, along with what has now been diagnosed as Asperger Syndrome. Through college, I was very athletic, super-strong (stronger than many men and could squat-jump HUNDREDS of pounds) and was an expert skier. I also played co-ed soccer, despite respiratory wheezing. I just dealt with it.

I have had episodes of suspected Cushings for about 25 years.. It felt like immediate-onset mono. I would have tons of energy all of a sudden, turn into a cleaning monster and get loads done (for example, cleaning out and rearranging my large storage unit) only to crash a week later and barely to get out of bed — coupled with weight gain of 40lbs + each episode.

At the lapses between episodes, I could diet and force myself to exercise, lose weight… but each time it was worse. I would gain 40, lose 35 — so I started losing ground. When given prednisone for bronchitis several times, when pregnant, and when given prednisone for systemic poison ivy, the same symptoms came back… but with much higher severity.

At the same time, I had multiple surgeries for perineal abscess — which was lanced and turned into a rectal-vaginal abscess. This would never heal.. I had 10 fistula flap, pig plug, cauterizations — none of which healed. No one could figure out why I wouldn’t heal. They tested me for HIV, but that was negative — so they had no answers. I seemed almost allergic to myself.

My surgeon talked me into a “temporary” loop ileostomy, promising that with no food going through, the fistula would heal. No dice. The ileostomy broke down, herniated, developed gangrene, and I ended up losing my appendix, some upper and lower intestine, and my caecum (which absorbs bile back into the body), and has resulted in terrible malabsorption problems and chronic diarrhea. Because I wouldn’t heal, the ileostomy was made permanent (my worst nightmare). Five years later I found a doctor to reverse the ileostomy. However, he noticed non-cancerous lesions on my intestine. Biopsies revealed nothing remarkable. I tested negative for celiac, for Crohn’s… just “cranky bowel”. While the takedown/reconnection surgery went well, my surgery site (a straight line from sternum to pelvic bone) would not heal internally and I herniated in 8 places. A piece of mesh was placed to cover the entire site. At the same time my gall bladder was removed because it had reportedly atrophied.

Since that last surgery I have gained 60 pounds, in 30 pound increments. One was immediately after the surgery, the other was over Spring Break. I got a lot done, felt like superwoman…all the while eating LESS than usual and drinking lots more water, but gained 30 pounds in a week, without swollen ankles. I had developed stretch marks in my armpits.

Since this started, my body has changed shape, places it stores, my feet have gone up 3 sizes, and my skin has turned kind of orange. I look like I go to a cheap tanning salon. The small buffalo hump I had 10 years ago has turned into a full-blown travel pillow which goes around the base of my neck. It looks a bit like my head is coming out of a vagina.

Don’t know what else to say. I can tell you what endo’s NOT to go to… But I have yet to find one who even believes cyclic Cushings’ even exists. I am trying not to dwell on the underlying question: Am I going to die of this before I get some real help?

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Michelle B (Mshelle), Cyclic Cushing’s Bio

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Hello all, I’m Michelle mother of 3 beautiful children, I work part-time, 33yrs young, non-smoker, non-drinker, overall health is good for the most part…..Where do I even begin.

I just recently received the diagnosis of cyclic Cushing’s. I’m not really sure how long I have actually had Cushing’s because I have had a diagnosis of PCOS since I was 17 yrs. old ( I’m now the ripe young age of 33). However looking back through labs with my endocrinologist who I see every 6 months, my ACTH levels have been elevated for a bit over 1 yr. It was not until recently January of 2015- things were going terribly wrong.

Starting in January I started to feel genuinely unwell, on a regular basis. I cant really explain all my symptoms there were so many different sensations and feelings that were seemingly different daily. However the red flag was I was having blood pressure spikes from really high, to very low back to back. I never had any blood pressure issues so this was a concern that led me to see a cardiologist. Upon tons of testing the cardio MD felt that something was telling my otherwise very healthy heart to do this and I should see a endocrinologist. (thank goodness for him) I contacted my endo and let him know…. the testing began.

I did every test: the midnightcortisol saliva test, dex suppression, 24 hr urine test, CRH stimulation testing. And I did them more than once. Each time it was a different response either, inconclusive, normal high, or high. I was then referred to the head of the Cleveland clinics pituitary department Dr. Kennedy. He said he is having a hard time believing when he looks at me that its Cushing’s. However all my labs say it is. I will say I do fit the mold of PCOS to a tee- which symptoms of that do coincide with Cushing’s but he still said we have to be sure its Cushing’s. To add to the mix I did have a normal MRI as well.

Dr. Kennedy started me on a 2 week midnight cortisol saliva test- Upon completion we noted levels of cortisol all over the place, some Normal, normal on high range, high, and really high. He confirmed with all the other tests this is Cushing’s. Now we are trying to figure out what is next…. and where is this damn little tumor at. he feels that it is most likely in the pituitary from my test results, but we still are not ruling out else where. He is thinking that the next step would be exploratory neurosurgery or the IPSS. I’m not sure what to think of all this, except I want to hope for the best like everyone- and just be cured!!

On a side note during all of this I also had episodes of severe pain in my chest and nausea. I went to see a GI who did an upper endo scope. They found I had eosinpphilic esophagitis. I also have never had any GI problems until now; and they came on suddenly. Im also having pain in my pancreas area- not sure if any of the two are related at all to Cushing’s. But once again I was fine until recently with all these issues at once it seems.

wish me luck on further testing, treatment, and ultimately a CURE!!

interview

Michelle was our guest in an interview on BlogTalk Radio  Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The archived interview is available now through iTunes Podcasts (Cushie Chats) or BlogTalkRadio. There are currently 83 other past interviews for your listening pleasure!

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