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Nicole, Undiagnosed Bio

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My name is Nicole, currently 19 years old. I’m a student at The Juilliard School in New York studying Dance. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to reach out to this community, I have certainly been stalking and researching this disease for months now… I guess I’m ready now to share my own story, especially since I feel more hopeless and alone than ever before.

July 2015— It all started about two years ago. I was only 17 and very much in peak-performance shape. I looked and felt like an athlete training to be a professional ballet dancer. I prided myself for my toned body, which is very very important in the dance world. I think I weighed about 103 lbs at a height of 5’4″.

But that summer I noticed it became increasingly difficult for me to fall sleep at night. I would sometimes stay up until 3 or 4 AM when I knew I had to be up at 6 or 7 AM for a full 8 hour day of dancing. I started to stress eat a lot as well and by the end of summer I blamed myself when I had gained back all the weight I had worked to lose the previous year, plus some. I think I was about 114 lbs by the end of August.

Around this time I also sought out a Naturopathic doctor for the first time at the suggestion from a friend to help me treat an underlying anxiety disorder. I was given supplements, and for a while my health improved considerably. I felt more calm and sane than ever before in my entire life. But that didn’t last long. I continued to steadily gain weight during my senior year, always going on extreme fad diets to try to maintain. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not.

March 2016– By the time Spring rolled around I was really starting to notice a difference in my appearance. My face had begun to swell and I began to wonder if maybe my weight was out of my control. Maybe there was an explanation for my struggles and failed efforts. So I began researching hypothyroidism, since it runs in my family, and I went to my primary care doctor to ask for the first tests. Little did I know this would be the beginning of a long and defeating marathon.

My doctor initially treated me like I was crazy. Saying that if anything I was still underweight and that I should be concerned about my primary amenorrhea (I had still never had a period). But he did the tests and the results came back suggesting hyperthyroidism. I was confused because all my symptoms suggested otherwise. Nevertheless I was shipped off to an endocrinologist who was of little help to me throughout the summer while I continued to dance and went away for a summer intensive in Chicago.

June 2016– While in Chicago my weight just ballooned even more. I admit I did gain muscle but that was thanks to the rigorous amount of training I was doing at the time. I definitely didn’t look right though. My muscles were buried under a layer of fat, no tone was visible, and my puffy face made me look like a stranger to friends when I returned home. I tried various thyroid replacement hormones at low doses, desperate to get my body back.

August 2016– I had returned to my Naturopath in the hopes she could finally diagnose me with hypothyroidism. She did, and in fact she discovered I have Hashimoto’s, which explained the fluctuating levels. She put me on NaturThroid before saying goodbye as I departed for my Freshman year of college at The Juilliard School.

September 2016– My health improved a short while. I lost some of the puffiness on my face, dropped some weight, but settled around 117 lbs. This only lasted about a month.

October 2016– By October things turned for the worst. I felt only weaker the more I pushed myself each day. My muscles weren’t allowing me to dance at the same capacity as I once had, I was embarrassed by my short comings, especially being surrounded by so many talented individuals. My weight started rapidly increasing now. I regained the puffiness around my face and neck, and my weight went from 117 to 126 in a matter of a month.

I was referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist who thought I had PCOS and put me on metformin. To her credit, I did fit the profile. I complained of rapid weight gain, I had slightly elevated testosterone, and I had a few small cysts on my ovaries. But there were also things that didn’t fit the bill. Like my apparent lack of Estrogen, which is usually elevated in PCOS. And that I had never had a period before. I also showed no signs of pre-diabetes.

January 2017– After winter break I really could no longer put a stop to my weight gain. No matter what, it just went up. I tried cutting carbs, sugar, and calories to below 1,200 a day, all while dancing 6-8 hours a day and my weight only went up.
Metformin didn’t work. Repro. Endo. put me on estrogen and progesterone for a while, but I stopped seeing her eventually because she didn’t listen to me and ignored my qualms about weight.

I also grew very very depressed around this time and began to wonder if this was the end of my dance career. I was starting to look like a joke in classes. I mourned my body. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.

May 2017– After months of research I began to wonder if I might have Cushing’s disease. I had the stretch marks on my butt and thighs, the filling in of fat around the collar bone, neck and jawline. Rapid weight gain, fatigue, depression, angry outbursts, and flushed cheeks. I do not have central obesity, but my weight has always tended to go to my butt and thighs. Though for the first time ever I begin to form a muffin top and fat on my arms. Cellulite appeared everywhere when I stretched my skin even a little bit, very odd to see cellulite on your knees! I had swollen legs too.
I now weighed 135+ lbs.

June 2017– When I got home for summer break my mom and I saw Neuro Endocrinologist Dr. Kevin Yuen at Swedish Pituitary Center. He listens to me, the first doctor to really listen! And he began testing.
Four 24/hr urine, 4 midnight salivary cortisol, 1 dexamethasone suppression test, 1 dex-CRH test, 1 Pituitary MRI.

July 2017– (current weight = 147 lbs) After a visit with Dr. Yuen and weeks of speculation he concludes there is only a 50/50 chance I have Cushing’s. Test results are as follows:
-2 mildly elevated 24/hr urines
-2 normal 24/hr urines
-3 elevated midnight salivary cortisols
-1 completely normal midnight salivary cortisol
-normal response (suppressed) after low dose dexamethasone
-normal response to Dex-CRH
-normal MRI

I’m disappointed to say the least that there is not more resounding evidence that I have this disease. I feel so certain that I have it. My body and mind are changing so rapidly I just want to cry every day. It’s so bad I don’t think I can return to school in the fall. I may have to take a year off of dance if I don’t get my body back in shape by the fall. And a year off of training could ruin me!!

Dr. Yuen suggests doing a hospital stay at Swedish to conduct further testing, particularly midnight serum cortisol, to see if more positive results might outweigh the normal results. I guess he wonders if I did something to mess up the cortisol response in some of the tests, though I don’t see how I could have! I’ve barely done anything this summer, definitely nothing exciting. I’m home-bound because I feel so depressed.

I don’t go to ballet classes anymore because it’s too painful to see myself in the mirror and try to dance in a fat suit. None of my clothes fit anymore. I just don’t feel like a young attractive woman like I used to. Not to mention my energy is out the window.

I haven’t quite given up yet! I eat a very limited paleo diet that omits grains and sugar (except those naturally occurring). I try to swim at least every other day and keep up with my pilates and stretching. It’s not the same though.

I might give up if after the hospital stay, the tests come back normal and I’m told I do not have Cushing’s, when I don’t see how it could be anything else!

I just want my life back.

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Heather P (Heather), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed 5

 

This is about my husband…2010 diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (one day he was fine, the next day he was in agony type onset). Was placed on methotraxate, prednisone, humera, actemra, etc. for the next 4 or 5 years. None of the bilogics worked for more than a month. Pred and pain meds became a mainstay for about 5 years. I started to question the accuracy of the diagnosis and was patted on the head and basically told to forget it and go my merry way and accept it. We were always told the bloodwork “was fine. no issues with the exception that when Neal hurt, his inflammatory blood factors were low..which was odd but it is his body”. It was left at that. We basically gave up the Rheumatologist in 2015 as it was getting us nowhere and nothing was changing. Something was still wrong.

Late 2015, his weight gain went crazy. He developed moon face, the traditional hump on the back of his neck, huge adbdomen with tons of stretch marks everywhere, no energy, listlessness, severe pitted edema, paper thin skin, spots all over his legs, rash on his chest, pressure on his chest and lungs when laying down, sleeping all of the time (as in 2 seconds after he hit is recliner), sleeping solely in the recliner, lower extremety severe weakness, nausea, etc. This led to congestive heart failure in Jan 2016 due to the extreme fluid retention. Placed on lasix, indomethacin, blood pressure meds. Cleared by heart doc two weeks later to return to work.

Still no results…..still spiraling downhill. March 2016 Get steroid injection in the knees as he cannot walk due to the weakness, swelling and pain. Vision issues are now added to the list of continuing issues.

June 7, 2016. Go to another doctor out of state and get more bloodwork done as we cannot take it anymore. They take more blood. Doc does comment on his paper thin skin and mentions that is usually from steriod use. Neal passes out and has to be taken out of the office in a wheel chair as he cannot walk due to the extreme weakness and pain. Increase lasix to 2 a day and get prednisone.

I have finally had enough. I cannot stand seeing my once vibrant active husband just laying there…just existing….just barely…. I make a comprehensive list of all of his symptoms, make a graph of his blood work results from 2010 to present…what I found was astonishing…his results were NOT ok. I took him to the local doctor and pleaded and begged for him to figure out what is wrong with my husband. I initially go thte ole “I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes” etc. as we had just gone to the new rheum. doc a week ago. He ordered a new echocardiogram and it was clear. Added new drug. Neal had an allergic reaction and was put on high dose (50 mg daily) of prednisone combined with zantac and zyrtec for 3 days.

A week later, his bloodwork came back…gout, hypothyroid (based on symptoms), severe internal infection. Add more meds.

Go to eye doc and get the diagnosis of cateracts in both eyes. Doc felt it was due to prednisone due to the rapid onset. Surgery scheduled for next week.

In the meantime, Neal has gone even more downhill….now he feels like he periodically fractures a rib, a finger, etc. Even more stretch marks are present. He is listless and cannot function. He cannot walk. Add decreased urine output even on the lasix). He just lays there stuck in a shell. He has missed so much work in the past 2 weeks. He lives as one would in a nursing home…I take care of his daily needs. He cannot.

I go back to doing my research online. Cushings Syndrome pops up…OMG….Between all of the biologics, the up and down on the prednisone, zyrtec, steroid injections , etc. has sent him into the major downward spiral that he is experiencing…..Steroid induced Cushings along with hypothyroidism (might even be hashimoto’s..too soon to tell). We came to this conclusion at 2 am this morning. To further prove this, he took an additional 10 mg of prednisone immediately. I know…he refused to go to the er…he wanted to prove it one way or the other. (I did tell him that I was gonna invoke my medical poiwer of attorney and have him taken out by ambulance on tuesday if not sooner if this didn’t have some impact). Well…he can WALK this morning. He actually went to the bathroom to use the toilet….THAT is a huge deal to us. He is in pain but he can MOVE!!!! He went to work this afternoon as well. He has to have his cateract surgery so he can see to work (we will lose our home…company house…and everything else if this is not done asap). That is his priority. Once the surgery is done, we will be headed back to Nebraska to approach the doctor there about our findings relating to Cushings Syndrome.

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Sheara (sbailey), Pituitary Bio

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golden-oldie

 

A Golden Oldie originally from Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I started back in Jan 08 with a heart arrythmia that ultimately put me through weeks of cardio testing. All cardio came up negative, including passing the stress test at 110% for my age. I went back to my PCP and she was deadended with answers.

I started to advocate for myself asking if it could be endocrine since I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease(a type of Hypothroidism) in 2002. In particular I asked her if she thought my adrenal system was the culprit. My doc said well let’s check cortisol levels. I did a salivary cortisol test that, according to the endocrinologist my doc spoke with said, was the highest he had seen.

They ordered up an MRI and confirmed a Pituitary Tumor on June 27th. My doc reacted quickly and had me go for an emergency eye exam that day to check visual fields…they were fine. Then my doc had me do urine and dexamethasone testing to see if cortisol levels could be duplicated.

Early July I had a phone call from my doc stating that since the other tests for cortisol came back normal they felt I had a non-functioning tumor but still wanted me to meet with a neurosurgeon. Finally on Aug 5th I met with the surgeon.

In the meantime I had been reading whatever I could get my hands on. I was prepared with many questions to the surgeon. Before I was in the room talking with him for 15 min. he mentioned Cyclic Cushing’s as a possibility. He had me repeat the salivary testing for 5 days…all came back normal. So the opinion remained that I may have Cyclic Cushings or can watch the tumor and symtoms or I could have the tumor removed for peace of mind.

I opted to have the surgery. to remove the tumor. Last Mon. Sept 29th I had Transsphenoidal surgery to remove the tumor. On Fri. Oct 3rd the neurosurgeon called with the pathology report results being that it was an ACTH(aka Cortisol) and Prolactin Tumor. He was vague to make a formal statement to agree that it was Cyclic Cushings.

So I am home on the mend 1 week post op…glad I made the decision to go forward with tumor removal. The medical system is curious though how they appeared almost afraid to make any formal opinions. Although the surgeon did state that Cyclic Cushings is difficult to diagnose. In my opinion, the evidence is in the pathology report!

Maybe it is my imagination, but I already feel like my “old self” back 10 yrs. ago. The other bit of history for me is that after my hypothroidism was diagnosed and I was stabilized on Synthroid and Cytomel I could never get weight off and in less than 6 months in 2005 I gained 40+lbs. No matter what I tried to do for weight loss I could not budge more than 5 lbs. I am now anxiouis to see how I do. I meet with the neurosurgeon in 5 weeks. He and possibly an endocrinologist will be following my health. Time will tell but I do feel I am on the right track.

Thanks for listening!

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Xchicagoan (xchicagoan), Undiagnosed Bio

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golden-oldie

 

From Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hi there!

I’m new to the site, and quite frankly, new to Cushing’s Syndrome itself. Over the years I have been having what seemed to be a lot of unrelated symptoms, which are now escalating in intensity. And like most of you I have been from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what’s going on, with no success. What I find really scary is I’m now seeing uncanny similarities to the mystery illness that took my mother’s life. Out of frustration I’ve turned to the Internet for answers; starting by putting in different combinations of symptoms in hopes I would stumbled on to something conclusive.

It might seem pretty logical now, but I have been in a fog both literally and figuratively, never really looking at the “big picture”, since some of my symptoms were vague and generalized. Edema, hair loss, uncontrollable weight gain, etc., etc., etc.. Put those symptoms in and you get hundreds of different possibilities. And truth be told I had come across Cushing’s before, but I wasn’t convinced that was my problem. However, while surfing last night it occurred to me to include some family health oddities into the mix to see what I could come up with. The first one I started with was Adrenal Hyperplasia, and Bingo! I hit sight after site that described me, my mother, (dead at 61), and my niece (dead at 9), and I knew this was it.

So People of the Boards, where do I go from here? Over the years I have gone to two different Endocrinologists seeking answers, but because I have Hashimoto’s (Thyroid) Disease, both were convinced there was nothing else wrong. I am incredibly tired of wasting my time with doctors who are completely dismissive, and don’t take the time to look any closer than a few symptoms.

I’m turning to you, hopefully for some answers. If anyone knows of a competent doctor in the Huntersville/Charlotte, North Carolina area familiar with Cushing‘s, would you please respond?

Thanks for being here,
Xchicagoan

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lyebye0, Pituitary Bio

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The pituitary gland

The pituitary gland

 

I am stuck in the same doctor visit, testing, referral, waiting cycle that many of us find ourselves in and in the meanwhile my symptoms continue to worsen. I suddenly have developed high blood pressure and have high serum glucose. My TSH is also recently elevated for the first time ever, despite my Hashimoto’s. An MRI revealed a pituitary tumor.

I did two midnight salivary tests with one coming back high (but only slightly above the utmost limit) and the other fell in the normal range. The doctor believes that this is something to be “watched.” This mentality is so frustrating. I am planning on getting a referral to a local neurosurgeon. I no longer care what doctors’ opinions are. I will find someone who knows more about this than a regular endocrinologist.

These boards and support groups are life saving. When I read over and over again other people’s stories that are the same as mine, I feel affirmed. And affirmation is hard to come by with this disease.

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Joanne (Mojo1973), Steroid Induced Bio

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steroids

 

Hello Everyone,

I will try to keep my introduction short. I am a 43 year old wife, mother, and certified freak of nature. I was diagnosed with steroid induced Chushings in October of 2015.

Since I was a child I have had random medical issues but over the Over the last 20 years I have become a connoisseur of the medical arts. Funny because the I worked in the medical field for 15 out of the 20 years. I seem to collect diagnoses like a girl scout collects badges.

At 17 years old I collected my first big badge after months of being sick, Chronic EBV. In my 20’s I received the badges for Hashimoto’s Thyroidism, Fibromyalgia, and Adenomyosis.

As I moved into my thirty’s my badges were getting bigger and better; they included Sjogren’s syndrome, Raynaud phenomenon, Hemiplegic migraine, Meniere’s disease. It seemed every time I needed to go to the doctors they wanted to test me for something new. All I wanted was relief because my symptoms were getting more aggressive. They have caused me to several surgeries’ not limited to Hysterectomy (by 28years old), Splenectomy, Smart plugs in my lower eye lids, EGD’s and Colonoscopies.

My hemiplegic migraines have caused multiple visits to the ER and the hospital’s Neuro floor. With these Migraines I have TIA’s so I have trouble walking or talking for days after. As the years have gone by my illness has gotten worse and it all came to a head in June 11th 2015.

I felt awful and I had for several months. My new doctor was very confused because my blood work kept coming back normal for the most part, but I kept having random fevers (up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit) joint swelling and body aches/pains.

On June 11th my family couldn’t take it, they had watched me be in pain for too long, so they took me to the doctor in the morning. When the doctor saw my whole family there at my appointment in tears, he decided to do more blood work. After the appointment he sent me home and said I should hear from him in the next few days with the results. So, we left feeling defeated and like their would never be any help. About two hours after I got home the doctor called and said to get to the hospital that something was wrong but he was unsure what it was. My blood work showed my inflammation markers at 174 and my WBC 28,000. In addition to that my kidneys and liver were fighting to staying the game. This was the start of the current medication roller-coaster, and prednisone was the main med in this cart I’m riding in.

It took three months to get the inflammation and WBC down but I took 1 month at 80mg then 3 months of 60mg of steroids. My taper is going very slow and painful. I’m currently down to 4mg and it will take till October to ween all the way off. But because of the steroids I gained 70lbs in four months. This brought my 5 foot frame to 211lbs. I have all the best signs of Cushings and for the most part I’m dealing ok. Until I can’t bend over to put on my shoes or I have to use my vpap machine to breath at night.

I guess I should tell you what my current badges are narrowed down to. I have a rare auto immune auto inflammatory disease called Hypergammaglobulinemia with Familial Mediterranean fever. To have have name gives me a direction. I would rather I do this then one of my children. I just want the information for my family so they can have early diagnoses and live a long life without pain.

 

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Sheara (sbailey), Pituitary Bio

1 Comment

golden-oldie

 

I started back in Jan 08 with a heart arrythmia that ultimately put me through weeks of cardio testing. All cardio came up negative, including passing the stress test at 110% for my age. I went back to my PCP and she was deadended with answers.

I started to advocate for myself asking if it could be endocrine since I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease(a type of Hypothroidism) in 2002. In particular I asked her if she thought my adrenal system was the culprit. My doc said well let’s check cortisol levels. I did a salivary cortisol test that, according to the endocrinologist my doc spoke with said, was the highest he had seen.

They ordered up an MRI and confirmed a Pituitary Tumor on June 27th. My doc reacted quickly and had me go for an emergency eye exam that day to check visual fields…they were fine. Then my doc had me do urine and dexamethasone testing to see if cortisol levels could be duplicated.

Early July I had a phone call from my doc stating that since the other tests for cortisol came back normal they felt I had a non-functioning tumor but still wanted me to meet with a neurosurgeon. Finally on Aug 5th I met with the surgeon.

In the meantime I had been reading whatever I could get my hands on. I was prepared with many questions to the surgeon. Before I was in the room talking with him for 15 min. he mentioned Cyclic Cushing’s as a possibility. He had me repeat the salivary testing for 5 days…all came back normal. So the opinion remained that I may have Cyclic Cushings or can watch the tumor and symtoms or I could have the tumor removed for peace of mind.

I opted to have the surgery. to remove the tumor. Last Mon. Sept 29th I had Transsphenoidal surgery to remove the tumor. On Fri. Oct 3rd the neurosurgeon called with the pathology report results being that it was an ACTH(aka Cortisol) and Prolactin Tumor. He was vague to make a formal statement to agree that it was Cyclic Cushings.

So I am home on the mend 1 week post op…glad I made the decision to go forward with tumor removal. The medical system is curious though how they appeared almost afraid to make any formal opinions. Although the surgeon did state that Cyclic Cushings is difficult to diagnose. In my opinion, the evidence is in the pathology report!

Maybe it is my imagination, but I already feel like my “old self” back 10 yrs. ago. The other bit of history for me is that after my hypothroidism was diagnosed and I was stabilized on Synthroid and Cytomel I could never get weight off and in less than 6 months in 2005 I gained 40+lbs. No matter what I tried to do for weight loss I could not budge more than 5 lbs. I am now anxiouis to see how I do. I meet with the neurosurgeon in 5 weeks. He and possibly an endocrinologist will be following my health. Time will tell but I do feel I am on the right track.

Thanks for listening!

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