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April (April), undiagnosed bio (PCOS)

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Originally posted December 28, 2008

 

My name is April…I am 34 years old and recently started having some issues that led my family Dr. to do some bloodwork. My cortisol levels came back very “very high” according to him, with regular female hormones “slightly out of whack.”

I am so condufused at have no idea where to turn. I found this board and in reading the bio’s it was like reading “my story”. I have felt like I am going crazy and no one understands…including my unsupportive husband.

My history…
2 children…premature (they re 15 & 16 now)
2 miscarriages in past 5 years
hemmoraghed 3 times, hospitalized -D&C
Heavy abnormal periods w/severe back pain
Diagnosed with PCOS 2 years ago after trip to emergency room with what i thought was appendicitis
anemia
Underwieght (5’2…100 lbs) but have “spare tire” around mid section
Have very large Lipoma on shoulder blade near neck
Adult onset acne and boils
RLS
Severe shoulder neck pain
Went to family Dr. recently because I had a 9 day crying jag over something trivial, to the point i couldn’t work!
Dr. prescribed Zoloft and Xanax,for depression,which stopped the crying, but i feel like i may be abusing the xanax.
I feel sad and alone. I just want to stay in my house and hide!
I also have always had anxiety.
My blood pressure has always been low, but Doc has always said that’s normal for person my size.
No sex drive.
Don’t like people touching me.
I smoke, like a frieght train.
I CANNOT SLEEP more than three hours! I can take 15 mg of melatonin and 2 mg xanax and still be up after 3 hours sleep.
I only urinate about 3 times a day which is dark and cloudy and funny smelling. (sorry if TMI)
I am always thirsty!
i could go on and on…

I just want to know if I am crazy or if something is really wrong with me. this is affecting my realtinship with my husband and friends.

my insurance company shanges after January 1st , so i will be making an appt with the surgeon to have the lipoma removed.

Should I see an endocronolgist?
when i talked to my Dr. about my bloodwork, I was so overwhelmed, i didn’t ask any of the right questions.
all I remember him saying is that a norml cortisol range would be 200-300, high 500-600, mine 823.

Does this make sense to anyone?
Thanks for listening!

Any advice would be a god send…
April

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Mandy, Undiagnosed Bio

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golden-oldie

 

Originally from July 19, 2008

AMANDA M JUNE 2008 – INVESTIGATIONS

Hi, This is my document,which I have sent to the doctors, I thought I’d add it as my bio..

FEB 2005 Constipation, Craving for starchy food, Blocked nose right side and change in shape of right side of nose – flattened cartilage.

END OF AUGUST 2005
Large cyst in left side vulva, 2 x two weeks antibiotics wasn’t resolved operation to drain the cyst.

SEPTEMBER 2005
Swelling of stomach after operation, went to doctors thought IBS was given Fibre gel, stomach distended couldn’t go to the toilet for 10 days a lot of pain and a big thick blistering rash at base of spine.

Nurses visited to give enemas wouldn’t work a lot of pain they refused to continue. A&E – X-rayed showed Impacted faeces , given Movicol which worked, told to eat lots of fruit and veg. Did as advised became impacted again.

Ultra sound of ovaries and Stomach – Couldn’t see as fizzing from laxatives.

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2005
Doctor referred to Gastro Doctor McStay – Scheduled for Endocopsy – Confirmed Hiatus Hernia

December 2005 / 2006
New Years eve very down and ill with continuous impaction and other symptoms. Friend said to stay at hers and not to stay on my own as it was New Years Eve. Had a few drinks of rum. Early hours of the morning went to bathroom started sweating – collapsed – came to briefly and was on the floor couldn’t control body – friend came in I was having a fit – had cut my mouth and nose. Went A&E new Years day, they said must have been a one off.

January 2006
Sindosopy – Minor inflammation, slow bowel

Follow up Dr. McStay – Advised to take Mil Par for rest of life

February 2006
Symptoms worse very distressed had spoken to PALS previously as felt so ill to wait for appointments and hadn’t been advised what to do next. I had a phone call from a lady at PALS at home she advised me to see A homeopath and said I had Candida from all antibiotics and gave me contact information for a lady to go and see. I Looked up Candida Diet on the internet and started the diet and also went to my doctors at Southchurch Boulevard and asked for an antifungal. He gave me the tablets and I felt really good whilst on them and on the diet but stopped when I didn’t have anymore tablets left.

March 2006
Homeopath (details given to me by PALS) – said I had systemic Candida and low in vitamin’s and took foods out of my diet intolerances and I started being able to go to the toilet a bit better and felt a bit better as month went on. Although always have a swollen stomach, much improved with diet. Also, the ryvita that I was allowed to eat affected my stomach.

Could only eat plain rice, potato, lean meat, Fish. If I ate wrong food I was ill some times I had bad nausea aswell as distension and constipation and other symptoms. If I ate fat I would have nausea and pain in my right back.

I also started getting a lump in my lip which turned into about 10 blisters and the blisters have gone but the lumps is always there and dries out all the time and it sometimes turns into blisters but never goes.

OCTOBER 2006
Homeopath said I should be okay and to introduce foods I did this and became ill. She advised me that I must have an underlying condition, which is why it wont go and said to go back to doctors.

December 2007
I was very low as I thought I was getting better and kept eating foods which made me ill as I was depressed over Christmas. Then I went to a new Doctor at Cluny Square and explained what was happening. He said possibility of Celiac I had blood tests but not biopsy and the diet was pretty much a Celiac diet. The doctor to have me sent back to Gastro and he will try and help me with investigations.

I went back on the diet. I had also applied for a new career at the NHS as a Trainee Radiotherapist previously as I thought I was getting better and I was given the job which started in February 2007.

March 2007
Dr. Mcstay – said I’d been tested for Celiac but not had biopsy agreed to do tests but said I would have to eat for 5 weeks for biopsy as been doing the diet. They said if I had been on the diet that long I may of healed my gut. I was still trying to eat low carb whilst doing the challenge so ate low carb ( I don’t know if maybe I didn’t eat enough in the 5 weeks to do the damage for celiac.

I started the eating gluten also stopped the Birth Control Pill as I felt too ill to go and get my next pack and thought it may help if I had a break. I had previously been off the pill a few years back and didn’t have a period for 1.5 years and just went back on it.

I was signed off work as too ill for the whole 5 weeks. My symptoms were much worse this time during the eating for the test. Also doctor said my thyroid was a bit low.

APRIL / MAY 2007
I returned to work had been back on my diet for a week – My results came through and it tested negative for celiac. I was very stressed as I still didn’t know what was wrong.

I spoke to a dietitn at work and she agreed to try and help – she put me on a anti yeast diet (still eating wheat etc )and said to ask for antifungal from doctor but doctor couldn’t give me a very long course it didn’t make much difference. She then advised me to eat normally maybe I was malnourished from diet and I just got worse and worse and my skin had started changing like it was dehydrated, shrivelled up like crepe paper and thin. I was eating chocolate as was down and was very nauseous after but felt like giving up as was so ill so kept eating wrong foods .

JUNE 2007
I was very ill eating foods that made me ill. Still off the pill. There had been stress at my family my Dad had left. I left work early as stomach hurt and was very nauseous went home and decided to try a antidepressant 20 mg Prozac on the Friday. There was a big row with Parents on the Saturday, I wasn’t really with it as on the tablets. On the Sunday night I woke up with a very bad headache like pressure in my head and nose I felt very strange I don’t know what happened but I wasn’t with it at all.

My face, neck, arm, back of hamstring around my bottom on the right side had changed. I had bad dioreah for a good week may be it was the shock – I lost quite a few pounds very fast as everything went straight through me. My skin Pale, clammy.

On the Monday I saw Dr. Palacian who advised me to stop the tablets I may have had a reaction (HE SAID I COULD STILL BE CELIAC). I became a lot more anxious and depressed following this as I was scared of what had happened and my family were caught up in there problems and didn’t realise what was going on. I couldn’t stand being at home as was getting panic attacks as it happened in my house so I stayed with my Nan. She was very shocked as I was so thin, I had a black mark down my right side of face a rash also on my face which she has a photo of .

JULY 2007
Occupational health referred me to Physiatrist and I explained what had happened. She advised me I didn’t have a mental problem although I was depressed due to what was happening. She advised me to see Endocrine and Dermatology as she said the mark across my face was a sign of autoimmune disease.

I was desperate to get better and back to work so I borrowed money to private to endocrine. I had blood tests and then after was followed up at southend hospital and the specialist said he had spoken to doctor Adey and I was depressed and nothing on the blood tests.

I then requested an Ultra sound as I had read about PCOS and it did show cysts on both ovaries but nothing on the blood tests prior to this.

(Previous doctor) Dr. Adey said I may have lock jaw but no one said anything about my neck or other limb problems.

DR.MARVRA
I decided to pay to go to a Neurologist as I was so desperate and knew Bells Palsy doesn’t affect one side of my body. I did think I had a stroke. Neurologist advised I needed Pituitary MRI, Parathyroid and various other tests. She said my reflexes were absent and told me to stop doing the diet as it may affect the testing but I couldn’t function without this diet. ( I had been eating wheat etc running up to seeing Dr. Marvra)

AUGUST 2007
Nerve Conduction Test – Normal – was on diet

Follow UP SEPTEMBER 2007
Dr. Banister -Neurology

I had to explain again from the start – I had been on the diet again and this time had reflexes. She said probably a bit of bells palsy, didn’t know what was wrong with my neck or limbs on right side. She also to refer me to Charring Cross for Fibromylagia but Doctor Adey wouldn’t refer me. She sent me to a Physio for bells palsy but it didn’t help.

SEPTEMBER 2007
Dermatology – Basildon Hospital I didn’t get to explain anything he quickly examined me and said no cancer and sent me on my way.

OCTOBER 2007
I became very depressed scared suicidal and was admitted to Basildon Hospital for one night and then referred to Taylor Centre. I tried to work with them as I know I am depressed and I am still down but not suicidal now. I was too scared to take antidepressant they wanted me to take as I was previously advised I could have had a reaction to the tablet and didn’t want anything else to happen. I tried the antidepressant Effofor, but it made my anxiety very bad and I was worried about what happened last time so I stopped it.

NOVEMBER 2007
Referred to Gene for PCOS – I was still very emotional as ill, kept eating foods as depressed, and very upset about my face neck and right side as not been diagnosed. I didn’t communicate very well with GYNE because of the state I was in. I asked about Metiformin as I had read this is to do with PCOS but was advised I had to be very fat or want to have a baby. No periods for the last 6 months.

I saw Occupational Health again and was advised to change doctors. I had asked Doctor Adey many times to refer me to chronic fatigue and did receive a letter confirming that he would but he never followed it up. So I decided to change doctors as I was getting worse and was closer to loosing my new job and felt even worse than before.

JANUARY 2008
Dr. Syed agreed to start from scratch and sent me for blood tests which showed high cholesterol. I was much more positive again. I also decided to see a chiropractioner as my neck was hurting all the time cant hold my head up properly and my bottom / leg was flat when I walked and ached with any resistance walking.

Chiropractioner said I had a wry neck, facial drooping, and weakness and said I should have a brain scan and also mentioned Carotid Arteries but he wouldn’t touch me he said something going on may be neurological. He wrote me a letter to take to dr. Syed. It also mentioned having a breast examination as I have implants and the right side has shrunk and aches when I lay on that side.

Dr. Syed referred for all Specialists.

Breast Ultra sound – implant looked fine but change in fat in breast, shrunk on right side and skin droopy.

Neurologist – Referred – back to Dr. Marvra

Dr. Marvra had the letter and it did say I was misdiagnosed with Bells Palsy – I didn’t get to explain anything Dr. Marvra said I don’t need brain scan you have too many symptoms which don’t relate to my department but she said she would send me to a Rheumatologist.

APRIL 2008
I was referred to Dr. Nuduka – Facial Reconstruction Surgeon for Bells Palsy only Specialist in the UK. He said he doesn’t think it was Bells Palsy and mentioned having a EEG but this was not mentioned to Dr. Syed in the letter.

APRIL 2008
Dentist couldn’t perform root canal as couldn’t open my mouth wide enough – x-rayed my jaw and said its in a spasm – sent me to Oral Surgeon

Dr. Sha Oral surgery
He was very nice and asked about my other symptoms. He said it sounds like you have a few things going on, which is why so many symptoms he said he wanted me to have a brain scan and some blood tests.

I was able to tell him every symptom, which I felt stupid telling other consultants. He said I don’t have bells palsy, I have facial, neck and limb weakness and it will get better. He also said I have some TMJ and gave me some 10 mg of Nortipline to help me sleep as my mouth is in shreds from biting gums. He said he will make me a gum shield. He tried to run a tests for (cushings syndrome / possibly food induced) as he said my skin has atrophied and is thin and fragile with bruising along with other relevant symptoms.

Follow up with Dr. Sha – My brain scan showed a cyst in the right side of my sinus in the area of the facial weakness he didn’t think this was the cause of my right sided weakness. Dr. Sha ordered blood tests for Cortisol to investigate Cushing’s Syndrome but the Sythechen test couldn’t be performed as it had to be requested via Endocrine.

Dr. Sha said he needs me to have a second opinion but I must tell the Consultant everything I told him as it was all important.

Rheumatology
This consultant was running an hour late I wasn’t allowed to explain anything. The consultant just said I am a Rheumatologist have you any swollen joints. The consultant couldn’t explain my neck and said about physo but I had tried this and it never has got better. A nurse came in asking about my periods due to results of urine sample but she was told to leave, I never heard anymore about that. I was upset and the reception said its probably as she is running late in her clinic.

Follow Up Oral Surgery
I then had my Follow up in Oral Surgery with a Consultant. My Dad came with me. There was nurses and doctors in and out of the room using the photocopier which was very off putting and I didn’t feel like the consultant had much time as he said to keep it short. He didn’t acknowledge my facial weakness or my neck and he said I am not saying nothing wrong but I don’t know what’s wrong. They didn’t carry out the Cushing Test.

JUNE 2008
I am currently being referred to a specialist in the Parry Romberg Syndrome, which I stumbled across whilst trying to help my self. I wrote to the specialist after contacting the PRS support group. He agreed to see me based on my symptoms and Cathy Rehill at my doctors has organised this referral.

I am struggling with the constant awkward feeling of my neck as it has no strength on the right side, I cant lift anything above my head as it locks into a more rigid spasm and also affects my shoulder.

I am back on the celiac diet as I ant function otherwise due to the many symptoms I get. I am struggling with the diet as I have other intolerances other than the celiac diet, sugar, yeast, dairy, fermented foods. I do have a letter from Mary McStay confirming that you can only have systemic Candida if you have an celiac, or other autoimmune disease and if immune compromised.

I am naturally worried about the diet I am doing as fruit is very important with diet but I then suffer the faecal impaction. I am now also concerned that maybe where I have been on and off the diet it has affected the tests that I have had but I can feel that I am damaging my body further every time I eat the foods that affect me. It is very difficult to stick to such a rigid diet especially when I am struggling to get around some days and have difficulty getting to supermarkets.

I am very upset about the affect this illness has had on my appearance, my skin is so dry dehydrated, loss of skin elasticity, facial drooping, twisted neck, hollow eye, wasting on nose, general loss of muscle tone all over , flattened buttocks, bloating all the time. I am hoping this will improve once I know what’s wrong and when I am treated.

The palms of my hands keep shrivelling up, drying out and going tight and then the skin flakes on and off throughout every day and this is really worrying me also. Along with the pain in the right side of my back. My skin has got so thin that when I rest my elbows on a table for a couple of minutes they really hurt and go bright red and look like I’ve fallen over. I have marks on my arms which are months old from blood tests, spots and cuts that don’t heal.

I also just went back to the ladies clinic for a second biopsy as they found HPV virus last year. They advised me that I still have this infection and normally the body gets rid of it but my immune system must be compromised as its still there. I have got to go back in 6 months for another check up.

When I eat wrong I have also noticed that my body seems to be swollen like I have water retention and my face and eyes are very puffy. I can also feel the weakness / wasting a lot more if I’ve eaten wrong. I have no quality of life, I don’t go anywhere as don’t feel up to it or due to restricted diet and not able to drink alcohol, I cant go to the gym like I did due to the weakness or wasting in my right leg neck and arm. Fatigued and never feel well, I have no libido or sensitivity at all and I still have no period.

My Parents are now being very supportive as they are concerned about my health and recent deterioration, which has given me the strength to try and stay positive that I will get to the bottom of this. I do appreciate the help I have had from doctors and specialists but it is frustrating as I seem to have a complex illness or maybe something rare, which is making this difficult to diagnose. I have been very patient and I have done everything I’ve been advised to do but this has gone on to long and I cant live like this much longer.

Thank you for support and for reading this document. I hope it makes it easier to understand what’s going on and why I am so upset when I visit the doctor.

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Marcia (Marcia K), Undiagnosed Bio

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golden-oldie

 

Hello everyone! I have been diagnosed with PCOS for 15 years. I am 48 years old and have many of the cushing’s symptoms and have had them most of my life. I am on appropriate medicines for PCOS due to research I have done on blogs like this one.

I am here to learn more about Cushing’s as I believe I have this and my appointment with an endo is 6 weeks away and I want to go to this visit with much needed knowledge.

 

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Mae, Undiagnosed Bio

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golden-oldie

 

Originally posted Sunday, October 26, 2008

I am now 34 years old and have recently moved to a new state. I really don’t know when I started to show the signs. I have had migraines since I was in junior high. I used to have dark stretch marks and major mood swings in high school. My periods were so very painful and heavy I would bleed through a sanitary napkin every hour and a half. Once I graduated I went to the health department and asked to be placed on BC pills. I was eighteen, planning on having sex, and wanting to be safe about it. Within the next three months I put on about 60 pounds.

When I first moved to Virginia I was weighing about 135 pounds on a 5’6″ frame ever so happy in a size 8. By the following January I was almost 200 pounds and in a size 20. I went from wearing form fitting clothes to wearing sweat pants and t-shirts as large as I could find them. When I asked the health department about this, I was told that you have to expect to gain weight when you first start on the birth control pills. I was an active 18 year old, I didn’t over eat, and I was a personal nanny to a very active child. I took her on walks daily for at least an hour.

Things happen, as they always do. My fiance and I broke up, I moved to another part of the state, and pretty much ate only enough to make sure I was getting some nutrients into me. Depression set in, and my whole being seemed to change. I went from being an outgoing, happy center of attention to an brooding and depressed loner. I didn’t even want to be around my family (whom I lived with at the time). I went to the doctor again. I wasn’t planning on doing anything, so I stopped taking the birth control. When I asked the doctor about the weight loss, I was told it would fade within time as long as I worked at it.

Two years go by and I worked at it, and 20 pounds went on their way. The depression was starting to ease, I felt some of my old self returning. I decided to move it along and branch back out on my own again. I vowed to take back two years of my life. I was out going again, I WAS ME! I was eating healthy, only getting fast food at the most, once a week. Eating more salads than anything, and county line danceing three to four hours (non-stop) about four times a week (one day a week was for a demonstration team). I wasn’t loosing any weight. As a matter of fact, I had started to slowly gain it again. I also had my first bout with kidney stones. I met my soon to be husband almost two years to the day of vowing to get back my lost years.

Since My husband I have married (9.5 years now), my weight has been a large roller coaster ride. I have never been back down to the 180 I was when we first met. I haven’t been below 200 since then. I have maxed out at 260 so far. Each time I feel almost like my old self, I pick up the hard dieting and working out 4-5 days a week. I love weight training. Not the body building kind, but the lean muscle building kind. I will start out loosing weight and I will keep it up. I will loose about 10 pounds before the gain starts. Then I will tell myself that the gain is muscle and it is to be expected. 20 pounds later, when I am 10 pounds more than when I started, the depression starts to set in. I keep working at it with tears in my eyes and I no longer enjoy it. Finally, when the next 5 pounds hit, I just give up. All of this takes place over about a 4 month period. The only time there was a repreve was when I was pregnant with my daughter. I went back to feeling like myself again when I was pregnant. I also lost 25 pounds while I was pregnant. I was pregnant for 6 months (she was 12 weeks early due to pre-eclampsia).

Kidney stones started happening more frequently. UTI’s (which I had never had before being pregnant) started happening about every 6 months. I had been diagnosed with endometreosis, and the ovarian cycst I had been diagnosed with at 17 had come back. I was diagnosed with depression, and was always being told by the doctor that I needed to loose weight. No matter now many times I told him that I tried only to gain it, it was like he never heard me.

My break through came about a year and a half ago. I was reading one of my mother’s Reader’s Digest’s she had left at my house. I was shocked. It was almost like reading my own story. That night I hopped on line and came to this website. There was a diagram hand drawn of what a body could look like with Cushings. While I was reading the symptoms, my husband walked in. He asked when I had posed for the drawing. I broke down in tears. My wonderful husband came over and held me while I cried it out. Then listened as I explained it to him. I still didn’t have the courage to ask my doctor about it.

The following month, the recurring UTI’s started. I was getting one every two -three weeks. Then my mind started to go. Like one of the bio’s I have read here, it felt like there was an alien in my head. I could see myself acting in ways that weren’t me. I couldn’t even interact with my daughter without having flashes of anger. The depression medication pretty much stopped working, and there were times I couldn’t even stand myself. I finally found the courage.

I made an appointment to see my PCP. Since there was nothing ‘wrong’, the earliest they could see me was a month away, I agreed. I nearly called back to cancel the appointment at least three times. I kept it. He wasn’t very supportive. I was overweight and fat people like us have to find a way to loose it was pretty much what he said. But he would order and 24 hour UFC test. and we would go from there. Guess what? It was high. He refered me to an Endo. Wonderful Endo. I hated leaving him.

I went to see Dr. Barnes and he listened to me. I took pictures of me for every year since I was 18(which took a while to gather since I haven’t really had any pictures taken of me for the last 8 years). He asked me questions. He listened to me. He made me feel as if what I had to say was important and needed to be heard. Then we did the exam. He talked, measured, asked, and explained the whole time. He looked at the hair loss, the hair that was growing where it shouldn’t, even the stretch marks that have long since faded to white (but once in a while flair red). He ordered a dexa test. Then he put me on blood pressure medication (my blood pressure had been creeping up for about a year), started me on Fortamet to help ease some of the symptoms, and ordered me back in two weeks. The test came back only slightly elevated. Enough to be over the norm, but not eoungh to confirm a diagnosis. He ordered a midnight cortisol test (it was now about almost 2 months since I first saw him). The results were on the high side of normal. He wanted to keep an eye on me. He couldn’t diagnose me, but he felt that my concern was warrented. He wanted to keep on eye on me. I was to see him every three months. If my symptoms were to come back, then I was to call him immidiately.

Four months ago I had to say good-bye to Dr. Barnes. I moved with my husband when he retired from the military. I am now back to the drawing board. I have a wonderful PCP now (which I didn’t before). She listened to me and refered me to an Endo. I left the new Endo’s office very exasperated. She walked into the appointment and didn’t even shake my hand. Strike one. Next came the physical exam. She felt my thyriod, one point in her favor. That was all she checked, strike two. Then, right there told me that I was diabetic (go figure that the last blood test I got said my sugar levels were excellent) and I had PCOS. The woman had only known me for ten minutes, if that, and was diagnosing me without seeing blookwork results or anything else. Third and final strike. I am still so put off by this experience, I haven’t gotten the nerve to go back to my PCP and ask for another referal. The Endo did do a dexa test, and said that according to that test, there was no way that I could have Cushing’s and that was the end of it.

Since then, I have had my gall bladder removed after having a gall stone pains for the last 4 years that no one could find. I also have two new kidney stones. One of them about a half an inch in diameter (again). The fatigue has returned. Insomnia is hitting again. Depression is setting in. My temper is starting to flare for the slightest wrong. My concentration is failing. When I changed the chanel and found the Mystery Diagnosis on about Cushing’s, I felt that was God’s way of pushing me. So, when the week starts, I will be calling my PCP and see if there is another Endo she can refer me to. As the song goes, ‘Here I go again on my own”.

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Susanna N (Susanna Nolt), Pituitary Bio

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pituitary-gland

 

Hello! I am a 30 year old single lady diagnosed with Cushing’s in summer of 2015.
I am a Natural Health Consultant and through the grace of God and lots of research, I basically diagnosed myself. My primary care was familiar with Cushing’s and when she saw all the Labs I had ordered on myself, she sent me for an MRI which showed a 6mm pituitary tumor.

I was so excited that at last a REASON for all my symptoms was found! But I had no idea at that point how long and hard the journey would be.

My Cushing’s was fast progressing and I gained 1 lb a week for the last 12 weeks prior to surgery. Plus, I had gained 20 lbs prior to that over the last 2-3 years. Not too mention all the other symptoms of Cushing’s: depression, PCOS, fatigue, weak muscles, thinning skin, hair loss, mental confusion, headaches, etc.

I was referred to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore MD and I met one of the best pituitary surgeons in the nation, namely, Dr. Gallia. He has a 90% success rate for Cushing’s to date.

After the surgery on Nov 13, 2015, I went thru all the normal cortisol withdrawal symptoms….shaking and twitching, incredible pain and weakness everywhere, headaches, depression and irritability, etc I spent 6 weeks at my parents home after the week I spent in the hospital for recovery from the acute phase.

After moving back to my house, I went back to work part-time the first week in January 2016. Now this May 2016 will be the 6 month mark, and I am discouraged at how bad I still feel most of the time….easily stressed and depressed, pain everywhere (esp spine, shoulders, and neck), forgetfulness, and lots of headaches.

I am still on 7.5-10mg of Prednisone every morning. I was on 15mg when I left the hospital, but every time I lower it, I have another crash. I tried the Hydrocortisone, but that wasn’t strong enough for me. My Dr said that my cortisol levels were unusually high prior to surgery, so my recovery may be longer than average til my adrenals start producing cortisol.

So I’m trying to be patient…The good news is that I’ve lost 13 lbs and 4″ around the waist, so I need to be grateful for that when I feel depressed. I am anxious to hear from others who are on the “Cushing’s Journey”. It seems that in some ways I am worse now than I was a few months ago. I have days when I just feel like crying and the pain is intense!

Do others have migraine headaches several times a week? Are your menstrual cycles crazy and debilitating? Hopefully we can learn from and encourage each other!!

God bless each of you!

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In Memory: Barbara “Cookie” Rothenberg, Oct 11, 2003

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Saturday, Oct 11, 2003

The One and Only Cookie, photo taken by Erin
Columbus CUSH meeting, Saturday, October 26, 2002

From the posts on the message boards:

My heartfelt prayers and sympathy goes out to Cookie’s family, I never really had gotten to know Cookie Like many of you, but during a few chats, I saw how she helped many, answering questions, ect… and always willing to help out. My heart is sad to hear of her passing.


What I learned from Cookie was that she loved people and wanted to make a difference in the lives of those who suffer from Cushing’s. She touched many hearts, I know she touched mine….


Cookie was an inspiration to many of us. She gave her all for Cushing’s awareness, and I will always remember that the last time I saw her, she was singing…
Shalom, my friend.


Rest in peace, Dear Cookie. I know that right now you’re organizing angels into working teams who will get heaven straightened out, with fun and laughter all the way. I guess G-d needs you now more than we do.

We’ll miss you so much, Sweetie.


I was lucky to have gotten to meet Cookie. She is such a fun person and she could always cheer you up.


Cookie, gees, what can you say. She was dynamic, committed, determined, exasperating, poetic, driven, electric, comedic, funny, supportive, strong, loving, loved, and not to repeat, but a driving force in creating CUSH and helping those who needed it. She was wonderful with fundraising. She was involved in so many activies that were for the benefit of others. She has dealt with many challenges in her life and continued to passed the point that many could not.

She will be sorely missed by all who knew and knew of her.


She was just an incredible, delightful person. I really think this world is a little dimmer today without her light from within. I know a lot of us are missing her already. I remember talking to her about the upcoming conference and her enthuisiasm was contagious. I’m just so very, very sorry to hear she’s passed. I hope her next life is one without pain, where she can sing and write poems to her heart’s content. Cooke will be sorely missed.


My family and I met Cookie at the UVA Cushings Conference Fall 2002. She was so helpful and caring. She told my father, sister, and I her “Cushings Story.” She was so, well, there is no better word to describe her, “bubbly.” She was so happy to be there, teaching, learning, and helping with CUSH. She left an impression on my family and I. She had such a great personality. She was one of the very first “Cushies” I met…and she made me re-think my attitude about being sick. She was going through so much, yet she had such a wonderful attitude towards it all. She was amazing!


Cookie touched a lot of lives. I remember back on the “old board”–before any of us had met any of the others in real life–I would get these perky, cheerful and witty emails from Cookie. She had a signature that was some kind of rhyme including “Lookie, lookie,…Cookie.” Her little dollop of cheer in my “inbox” always made me smile.

It is terrible to lose her. She has left such a legacy, though, that she will go on touching lives for many years to come.


I think this fits Cookie perfectly:

Some People …
Some people come into our lives and quickly go
Some people move our souls to dance
They awaken us to new understanding
With the passing whisper of their wisdom
Some people make the sky more beautiful
To gaze upon
They stay in our lives for a while
Leave footprints in our hearts …
And we are never the same

— Anonymous

~~~

Cookie shared this poem  to show how she felt…

It was an awful state that I was in
Hair was growing on my chin
My moods were swinging from low to high
All I did was cry “let me die!”

The hair kept growing down my neck, chest and bod
Would some dr not think this was a little odd
Sometimes I was up day after day
Then I’d want to sleep all the time to chase my troubles away

Rather I’d eat nothing, something, or very little at all
It seemed getting fatter and fatter was my call
I had every symptom of menopause
Too young they said, it’s in your head, there is no cause

I sing so when I said “I have another octave that is below”
They said pack your bags, to the loony bin you go
My periods were off the dr’s. were lazy
After running tests they said I was crazy

Nine years passed, symptoms got worse and I got fatter
My arms and legs were thin, please help me, what’s the matter
I was beginning to think maybe they are right
Maybe I am just a wee bit up tight

But my husband would say find another dr. it has to be
You are not the girl who married me.
Our children were afraid to them I was so mean
I’d see myself doing and yelling and to myself I would scream
“What is wrong with you! stop it” as if I was in a bad dream

Then I went to a dermatologist for a rash I had
He took a look and and asked “What else to you is bad”
I poured out my heart, I cried and I said
I can’t take any more, I wish I was dead

He asked who I had seen and I gave him the list
And I could see on his face, he really was pissed
He got me to the Cleveland Clinic and the best dr. there
Who listened to me, and checked out the arms, legs and hair

The mood swings, personality changes, the ups and the downs
Voice lower and periods, and face and body so round
One thing he did was run the same tests
Over and over as the results were not the best

Nothing was the same result and so he knew
Surgery was what they had to do
Something is very wrong in my body he said
Let us take a look now or you will be dead

We think you have Cushing’s Syndrome or Nelson’s Syndrome, too
But we will do our best to help you
Let us open you up and we will explore
Then we will know rather we do less or more

As it turned out the x-rays did not know
What they would see and how much would have to go
My female organs had tumors, fibroids and all
They called this syndrome Stein-Leventhal

A complete hysterectomy is what was done
How I had children not one of them knew, not one
Upon seeing that problem to the adrenals they flew
And things were so bad they removed two

The adrenals, 13 times their normal size and had twisted so
On the x-ray they looked fine, but they both had to go
After that they knew and to me they said
There is a pituitary tumor in your head

But until it grows there is nothing we will do
And 15 years later is when it grew
By then CAT scans and MRI’s were everywhere
So even I could see the tumor there

And no more cutting open the persons head
Up the nose they went instead
Well here we go again, lucky me
The tumor was wrapped around an artery

We can’t take it all out but we will do our best and try
If we sever the artery, you will die
5 years later I was back and then
They took the tumor out again

I opted for radiation to kill my friend in my head
I got tired of the Cleveland Clinic saving me a bed
I had other surgeries and emotional problems but day by day
I was going back to the female way

You see I was very slowly turning into a male but how
Will I be come a women now
The next 8 years were very bad
Almost worse than the first 9 years had

I lost some weight, most of the hair went away
With Nelson’s Syndrome some of the Cushing would stay
I woke up one day and the sun was shining
I was no longer bitching, no longer crying

I was almost me except for the pounds
And the thin arms and legs and the body so round
I was accepting me my life was changing
All I needed was a little more rearranging

I was out in public, I was acting and singing again
Working, volunteering, how did this happen, when!
I still get little bouts of depression but then
I know why, I’m not scared, I feel them coming and when

So hang in there and I promise you
You’ll be doing the things you used to do
Maybe a little slower, maybe not as long
Things will brighten up, I know I am not wrong

Keep on looking the right doctor is there
I know what you are going through, I really do care
I am here for anyone to help with what I can do
We all are rooting and praying for you.

 

1955 and 1962 [Photographer: Cookie’s family]

1980-81, 3 years old, 2000 [Photographer: Cookie’s family]

2000 and 1998 [Photographer: Cookie’s family]

 

From the message boards thread about Cookie:

When Sue left a message on my answering machine this afternoon (October 11, 2003), I knew that something was terribly wrong. It never occurred to me that it could Cookie, our Cookie. Always so positive, cheery, full of life. Even though she was as sick as she was, again, I really thought that she’d pull through, one more time. How could she not? She’d survived pituitary surgeries way back, adrenal surgery, Nelson’s, Cushing’s, more than any one person should have to endure.

Throughout her too-short life, she’s been far too sick, yet she’s carried it all off with grace and enthusiasm.

First diagnosed with PCOS, Cookie had an hysterectomy years ago. During the hysterectomy, they realized that her adrenal glands were greatly enlarged. Cookie had Cushing’s disease and in 1974, Cookie had her adrenal glands removed, in 1989 she had her first pituitary surgery and in 1994 her pituitary was removed completely. Then radiation. Since these are the major glands that run the body, she has been on major hormone replacement for a long, long time, pills and daily injections. Because she had both adrenals and pituitary gland removed, she was also saddled with Nelson’s syndrome…and more medications. Because of her Cushing’s experiences, she helped to found the international CUSH organization to promote awareness of Cushing’s disease/syndrome and served as it’s treasurer and fundraiser.

In November, 2002 she had surgery for E.Coli in her sinuses, of all places (she told the doctor that she wasn’t snorting hamburg!) and in December she had a pacemaker put in.

In Feb, 2003 Cookie suffered a Code Blue. Her heart stopped and she stopped breathing. There were 15 people working on her to bring her back. She couldn’t feel her feet, then her hands were cold, then every little thing imaginable was happening with her. Then cardiac care, a heart attack. Cookie went on permanent dialysis. Her hands suffered permanent damage, Raynaud’s Disease. Her fingers turned purple and she had to wear white gloves all the time. She was bleeding internally again and her platelets were down.

I talked to Cookie after this last assault on her body and she was as cheery as ever. She wasn’t really ready to go home, but she walked 60 feet at the nursing home in several tries and if she could walk a total of 60 feet then her insurance would pay any longer. Her dialysis times were terrible. Tu, Th and Sa 8-11 PM. But her main complaint was that she couldn’t go out of state to be at the birth of a new grandchild.

Then the recent surgery to install a dialysis shunt, infections, complications…

How much can one woman take? No wonder she was tired of it all 😦

No matter how sick she was, she was always ready with a joke, a little song. On the recorder where people leave messages for the toll-free number, Cookie left a message May 17, 2002. I’ve always left it in the answering machine, so I could get a lift by hearing Cookie sing one of her inimitable parodies. If you’d like to listen, you can hear Cookie singing and laughing, one more time [file is missing – I’ll try to find it again].

I just cannot believe this. I truly thought of Cookie as a wonder woman who could do it all, and she could pull through this, too.

I guess she got tired of dealing with illness after illness, medications, surgeries, injections, dialysis, everything. I know I get tired just thinking about dealing with any one of these. Cookie put up a very valiant front through everything. She did more to get the word out than almost anyone I know.

Rest in peace, Dear Cookie. I know that right now you’re organizing angels into working teams who will get heaven straightened out, with fun and laughter all the way. I guess G-d needs you now more than we do.

Many thanks to Erin for this last look…


We’ll miss you so much, Sweetie.

Lauren (Iskah), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed6

 

My name is Lauren. I am currently being tested for Cushing’s Disease. I’ve read that every patient is different, and from what I can see it is completely true.

I am not entirely sure how long ago my story started. I began seeing my family doctor in high school because I was having menstrual issues. At the time my Mom’s biggest concern was that I was having very irregular periods. She had also noticed that I had been growing hair on my face, under my chin and side burns. I was referred to two different specialists – an Endocrinologist and a Gynecologist to try and determine that root cause.

After multiple appointments with both specialists, the Endocrinologist said that I was on the edge of being Hypo(?) Thyrodism (it’s the one that makes you gain weight) and the Gynecologist said that I had PCOS (or PCOD – the name has recently changed, but I prefer to think of it as a Syndrome instead of a disease). I had a large amount of weight gain between grades 10-11, bumps (or cysts) all over my ovaries, facial hair growth and very irregular periods. I disagreed with the diagnosis.

Even at the age of 15 I felt that it was not the right diagnosis. I had friends with PCOS, and every one of them had insanely painful menstruation and small breasts. This may sound silly, but it was honestly the boobs that made me feel like the diagnosis was wrong. I may have small boobs for my family, but I still carry around size D (or DD depending on my weight) breasts. Either way, the voice of a 15 year old does not tend to carry far and I ended up being prescribed Glumetza (Metformin – used in Diabetes patients) and Yaz (Birth Control).

The Glumetza has always made me sick. I can’t eat my favourite foods with out feeling sick, if I can even get it in my mouth. The one thing I’ve always told my family is that it’s like being pregnant 24/7 with no bun in the oven. I’ve been on and off the medication for years now.

About 6 months ago I went in to see my family Nurse (I’ve stopped seeing my family doctor since, as the diagnosis is always “Lose weight”). I had been having chest pains while working out. Now although I say chest pains, it was more like severe pressure in my left shoulder. I would get dizzy and light headed while running with my sister, and on one occasion I threw up (Just bring it up to my sister, and she will start describing the cheesy spagetti coming flying out of my mouth and on to the yard of one our neighbours.. she still will not run that way).

At the point Erin (the amazing family nurse) also mentioned that my blood pressure had been high, not just recently, but for the last year. Furthermore I was hypertensive. I had heard this term before because for the last year my Mother had been going through her own set of genetic heart issues. My Mom had just been diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease (genetic form of it) and Superventrical Tachycardia (SVT – PSVT specifically). My Mother was also Hypertensive. This was concerning to Erin, as it had already been determined that my Mom’s condition was genetically given to her.

After monitoring my blood pressure for 3 months, with no improvements I was referred to an Internalist who also specialized in Cardiology. He’s great, just for the record. It’s not very often I that I get to speak with a doctor who understands sarcastic humour. Dr. A-R immediately removed me from Mavik (Blood Pressure Pill) as it was actually doing more harm then good. The palpitations that I was having on those pills were beyond intense, and the worst I ever had. They were never long lasting, never lasting more than 20 seconds at absolute most, but I can definitely say that I do not envy my Mom. Dr. A-R diagnosed me with SVT after a 14 day heart monitor. He literally called me the following Monday after I handed the monitor in. He immediately changed my medication from Mavik to a Calcium Channel Blocker. I still have heart episodes but not nearly as many or as bad as when I was on Mavik.

At my 3 month check in last week he said that he was concerned, because he did not believe that the blood pressure and the SVT were actually connected. He believes that I also have Cushing’s Disease. I had some blood work done a few weeks back that showed a very high number for a stress hormone in my blood. Now I am new to this whole thing, and my memory is horrendous, so I honestly do not remember what that hormone is called. I laughed when he said it though, for two reasons. 1. When I was diagnosed with PCOS, I was told that my body didn’t make hormones, hence the thoroughly detested Glumetza. Apparently that’s a different hormone. 2. It’s a stress hormone? Seriously? I am stressed 24/7 between work, home and my constantly changing relationship with the love of my life. I asked him if that would affect the number. As all of you know, it didn’t. At 8am when I had my blood work done, it shouldn’t be that high. He asked that I do a 24 hour Urine test. I waited until this weekend to do it, and I can honestly say that I did not enjoy a single moment of that test.

My Symptoms:

> Weight Gain

> Facial hair

> Irregular Periods

> High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

> Back Pain (Which I always assumed was from my curved spine – scoliosis)

> I have a little bump on my shoulders, but unless you’re looking for it, you won’t see it.

> High levels of stress hormone.. and waiting on results for Cortisol.

> I recently have been struggling with depression

> Anxiety & Irritability are a constant.

> Acne

I am currently waiting on my urine results.. and I have no idea what to expect. I do not even know how long it will take to get results.

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