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Amber D, Pituitary Bio

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Adapted from https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/130677664/woman-loses-home-after-insurer-turns-down-brain-tumour-claim

 

 

When Amber Denney​ bought life and critical condition insurance from Bank of New Zealand, she thought it would help pay her mortgage, if she ever fell so seriously ill she could not work.

But when she contracted a debilitating and life-threatening brain tumour, BNZ’s insurance proved worthless.

Denney was diagnosed with a pituitary tumour in 2020​, and underwent brain surgery, several years after symptoms emerged, including rapid weight gain, muscle loss, brain fog, fatigue, depression and severe headaches.

But despite her neurosurgeon saying Denney fitted the criteria to succeed in her $52,000​ claim, BNZ Life Insurance declined the claim, after taking six months to come to a decision.

As a result of her illness, Denney was unable to work, and lost the home she bought when she was 21. She wonders to this day, if the insurance money would have allowed her to save it.

At a time Denney, now aged 26​ and renting in Hamilton, was losing her home, banks were working to make sure people did not lose their homes in the economic disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic.

BNZ refused to comment on whether the insurance it sold had failed Denney in her time of need. But Partners Life, which bought BNZ Life Insurance after her claim was decided has promised to take a fresh look at her case.

Denney has yet to concede defeat to her insurer, and may take a claim to the Banking Ombudsman claiming service failure by BNZ, and the Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman over the decision by BNZ Life to decline her claim.

But she says she is speaking out to warn others that their insurance may be much more limited than they think, and fail them at their time of direst need.

Her cluster of debilitating symptoms resulting from the pituitary tumour is called Cushing’s Disease.

“I’m not the only Cushing’s person who has had this trouble with the insurance companies,” she says.

“The endocrinologist told me about all the other people who have been struggling,” says Denney, who before her illness was fit enough to climb mountains and shear sheep.

There were several critical failures of the critical condition insurance BNZ sold her, according to Denney and insurance lawyer Tim Gunn, who is helping Denney pro bono.

While the BNZ Life policy did cover pituitary tumours, there were two caveats.

First, it had to produce neurological damage, and functional impairment, which a specialist considered to be permanent.

Second, it had to be removed by a craniotomy, surgery that requires cutting through the skull.

Gunn says the requirement for a craniotomy is unreasonable, unfair and outdated.

In recent decades the primary surgical option for pituitary tumours was not a craniotomy, but keyhole surgery, which was used to save Denney’s life.

“The method of surgery to remove the tumour was the most current and accepted method,” Gunn said, and was now used in 95% of pituitary tumour surgeries.

Craniotomy surgery carries a higher risk and was not as effective, he says, and requiring it was unreasonable.

But Denney and Gunn say the policy was also fatally flawed because it could not do what she was sold the policy for in the case of a policyholder contracting a pituitary tumour.

It takes so much time for medical specialists to conclude that damage is permanent after an operation, that paying a claim in time to help save a policyholder’s home is not possible, Denney maintains.

One communication from BNZ Life dated September 2021, told Denney that despite her being diagnosed in July 2020​, operated on in September 2020​ during the level 4 lockdown, proof of permanency had still not been established.

Denney says she has been left with permanent memory loss, severe headaches, and other symptoms of Cushing’s Disease, and can’t understand why BNZ Life is not paying.

“It’s blatantly obvious. I’m struggling. I just don’t get it. It’s extremely unfair,” she says.

“BNZ has failed in their responsibility to ensure that Ms Denney was adequately protected,” Gunn says.

Denney says one horrified BNZ worker told her not to let the bank win.

“She advised me, it was her exact words, ‘If you have the energy to fight, fight them until the end’,” she says.

BNZ would not answer the allegations, saying only that all BNZ Life’s records had moved to Partners Life, though Denney remains a BNZ customer.

BNZ had sold the business to Partners Life, which has in turn been sold to Japanese insurer Dai-ichi Life.

Partners Life has promised to review the decision taken by BNZ Life to turn Denney’s claim down.

It said BNZ Life’s conclusion was that while the condition Denney suffered was most certainly traumatic, it was not covered under the definitions in the policy wordings.

Critical condition (often called critical illness) insurance was not designed to cover every possible health emergency, it said, but did not comment on the specific allegations Denney and Gunn have made, as it had only been alerted to them by Stuff.

It said it would contact Denney about the review of BNZ Life’s decision to decline her claim.

Partners Life says its claims philosophy is that, “if it’s grey, we pay”, and “where the medical information is unclear or conflicting, we will remove the uncertainty and simply pay your claim”.

Denney said her surgery saved her life, and her weight has dropped by 35kg​.

Doctors told her in 2020 that without the surgery she would have two years to live.

“I’ve passed that two years now, so every day’s given to me now,” she says.

At its worst, Denney’s symptoms were so bad, she was unable to work for nearly two years, though her life is on the up, and she is once again dreaming about buying a home.

She has landed a job at a supportive employer in Hamilton.

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Carola B (Carola), Adrenal Bio

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On December 26, 2014 I went to a local urgent care clinic with pneumonia, confirmed by an x-ray, for which I was treated.  I received a phone call from the urgent care clinic a few days afterwards explaining that the radiologist had seen something unusual that needed further examination.  After numerous tests my suspected Cushing’s diagnosis was confirmed.  Although I’d had symptoms for the prior ten years or so, I had no idea that they were due to anything other than aging (I was 68). My symptoms included weight gain around my middle which for the first time in my life I couldn’t shed, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, osteoporosis, bright red blotches all over my arms and eventually hands, which came from even the mildest bump (very embarrassing, so I was constantly looking for the right makeup to cover them up, and wearing long sleeves in spite of living in a tropical climate), a full round face, thin skin that would tear at the slightest nudge with profuse bleeding, very dry hair, splitting nails, and a constant bad taste in my mouth (I always carried a toothbrush, toothpaste and gum), etc.  All these things were puzzling and upsetting, but since no doctor was concerned I didn’t think it was anything other than my body wearing out.

I had an adrenalectomy at UCSF nearly a year after the initial concerning x-ray.  I was told that I should stay home from work for a week, and that I’d be on hydrocortisone until my remaining adrenal gland functioned properly again, but I was given no information about the severity of withdrawal from the huge amounts of cortisol to which my system had become accustomed. I woke up from the “no big deal just one night in the hospital” surgery and felt sick in every cell of my body.  The surgeon came in with his friendly face and asked how I was.  I told him I was sick and he asked where – all I could do is repeat “everywhere”.  He said he couldn’t help me if he didn’t know where I was sick, and I wondered in my grogginess how I was supposed to answer when the answer was that it was everywhere in every way.  At home I slept nearly continually.  After 5 days I saw some slight progress when I was able to wash my hair before falling back in bed.

When I returned to the surgeon after a week he upped my hydrocortisone, at the same time telling me, as did my endocrinologist, that there was no reason I should feel so ill.  The same day the surgeon increased my hydrocortisone my endocrinologist lowered the dose. I was told that I may be having an extreme reaction to the anesthetic, or perhaps I’d had too many surgeries in a short period of time (I’d had knee replacement surgery 6 months prior from which I had fully recovered).  My doctors also said I’d feel better in about 6 months (never had I been told anything about a long recovery period). When I showed my endocrinologist my swollen ankles he said he didn’t know the cause, nor about the aches, fatigue and nausea – one of his theories was that the cortisol had been masking the normal aches and pains of aging.  He discouraged internet research, saying there’s “too much misinformation out there”, but when I asked for a suggestion about a medical textbook, he said that it would be too hard for me to understand.  I did buy a medical textbook on Cushing’s (Cushing’s Syndrome, Ed. Lewis S. Blevins, Jr. M.D.), and therein learned about the extreme discomfort faced by patients undergoing “withdrawal syndrome” and finally felt validated.  I also discovered CRSF, and was thrilled to discover this wonderful resource for understanding my situation, no longer feeling so alone and confused.

What lay ahead was a very challenging, requiring me to make important life changes. My fatigue and nausea were severe, leading to my decision to stop working and cancelation of numerous plans. For months I also felt like an empty shell of a human being and wondered whether I would ever again have a personality – it was the weirdest thing, feeling as if I had no center.

Today my body is different in mostly good ways.  Immediately following surgery my blood pressure was normal, I was no longer pre-diabetic, no red spots ever appeared again, nor does my skin tear as it had.  I also lost the excess weight, and eventually my “real” hair and nails came back.  I am grateful for these wonderful results, and that I had the good fortune to be alerted to the adrenal tumor by a most perceptive radiologist.  The depression eventually lifted, my core sense of self returned, and I feel good.  The bad taste in my mouth disappeared, so I’m no longer a compulsive teeth-brusher, and I was relieved of nausea after four months.  I no longer have the high level of energy I enjoyed prior to surgery, and I’m cold when others are either warm or comfortable, so I just wear more layers, and these are things I can live with.

Gradually I’ve developed better muscle tone after the loss of muscle caused by Cushing’s, with lots of exercise, and I am grateful that I can do yoga, long walks, and other physical activities. I still get extreme fatigue and nausea from time to time after stressful events, such as international travel, and there’s nothing to do except to rest for a day or a few days until I feel better. I’m enormously grateful for the unending support of my husband, family and friends, and to the Cushing’s community for helping me along this strange journey.

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Sharmyn, In the Media

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From 2022:

Sharmyn McGraw knows as much about pituitary disease as some doctors.

She learned about it after struggling for years with a medical mystery that began in 1993. First, she began to feel anxious. Then, she began to gain weight, and she developed a rash. Much of her hair fell out. Her eyes began to yellow and her face puffed up. Different doctors gave her different explanations. They told her she was allergic to caffeine. That she was just retaining water. That she was beginning menopause.

In the end, none of those things turned out to be true. She finally figured out that she had Cushing’s Disease, which is caused by excess production of the hormone cortisol, which, in her case, was caused by a tumor on her pituitary gland.

Listen to this episode to find out how Sharmyn got to the bottom of her medical mystery with the help of Dr. Dan Kelly, and how she uses years of knowledge to help others suffering from pituitary diseases through the support group she founded at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute.

 


From 2019:

Sharmyn, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story is about the best kept secret in medicine…

I went from a petite dress size 2 to an obese size 22 in just one year. I went from athletically fit to barely able to walk upstairs. One of my closest girlfriends was a former Miss Universe and actor in Hollywood; we looked like sisters. We often hung out socially with those in the entertainment biz where anorexia is a compliment—not a disease.

But in 1993, at the age of thirty-one, I started to gain weight and lots of it. I ate a very healthy diet; I worked out five to seven days a week and trained with a fitness trainer just as I had always done, but the weight piled on. While my friends were busy planning their weddings and starting their families, I began my journey of the next seven years, seeking help from doctors all over California for a correct diagnosis and treatment. My beautiful thick, long blonde hair fell out by the handfuls. I got up to nearly 250 pounds, but the odd weight gain was mostly in my round moon face, and my stomach stuck out over fifty-four inches. Soon, many other symptoms started: I had constant anxiety, and I felt like I wanted to come out of my skin from the constant nervous energy racing through my body.

Nighttime was the worst; while I should have been sleeping, I paced my apartment to help slow down my racing heart. I felt nauseous from anxiety 24/7. I slept fifteen to twenty minutes at a time, but once I’d fall asleep, I would jolt awake with a shot of more nervousness pumping throughout my body. Sometimes I’d go days with only a few hours’ sleep.

Soon my blood pressure had to be controlled by medication; I also needed medication for anxiety and depression just to function. As a single woman, I needed to be able to keep my job; I needed to keep my medical insurance so I could keep seeking help from doctors. Although there were so many times when I wanted to give up, I had to keep going.

All the medical professionals said there was nothing medically wrong with me; just eat well and exercise more was their sage medical advice. I knew they were missing something as none of this was in my nature. A person doesn’t go from being thin, happy, and full of life to gaining over 100 pounds and enduring chronic anxiety and depression for no reason.

I continued for seven long years seeking help from general doctors to endocrinologists to gastroenterology specialists, rheumatologists, hematology experts, and even psychologists. All were highly respected and highly educated; unfortunately, none were willing to think outside their narrow perspective; none of these medical professionals wanted to listen to me, who in their words “let herself go.”

They would not believe me when I told them I was truly eating well and exercising properly but instead, offered more and more prescription drugs. When I said I didn’t want to take the drugs, and I wanted to find out what was causing me to be so sick, they wrote me off as unwilling to help myself. I was madly frustrated and felt betrayed by the medical community as well as society.

Many friends and even some family members felt I was causing myself to be sick. I’m not a shy personality, and I had no problem speaking up. Loudly, I begged for proper diagnosis; I begged for proper treatment. I told everyone, loud and clear, there was something medically killing me, and I wanted my life back, but they continued to blame me for my laundry list of poor health issues.

Eventually, I was so sick, I accepted that this undiagnosed illness was going to kill me eventually, but I was determined NOT to die before I found out what disease had turned my health upside down! I wanted to make sure other people did not have to suffer from this horribly embarrassing, lonely, debilitating disease. So, I started my journey to save myself, and whoever else was suffering like me.

Unlike today, back then, I couldn’t simply Google my symptoms, so I had to research by going through all my medical records. I remained persistent until I got copies of everything I needed. Through the years many doctors suggested I had hormonal issues, but they attributed any hormonal abnormalities to the fact I was obese and suggested if I lost weight, all my health problems would be gone. They were like an annoying, broken record.

But I didn’t go to medical school, so I had to rely on my intuition and the fact that I knew my body better than anyone else. I had a hunch the hormone issues were causing ALL my health issues.  Fortunately, while going over thousands of pages of lab results and doctor’s notes, among innumerable discrepancies of the medical opinions and endless mismanagement of my healthcare, I also found a few clues of where to start.

I borrowed a friend’s computer and typed in Cortisol. According to my health records, this hormone had only been tested once in seven years, and it registered as Very High—Above Normal level. The doctors said it was high because I was overweight, but I wanted to see for myself. And up on the computer screen popped an article published by the Pituitary Network Association,www.pituitary.org.

The article’s headline read: “Cushing’s Disease.” In one of my previous medical reports, a doctor wrote he ruled out Cushing’s syndrome. This article proved him uneducated about proper testing for Cushing’s, and he was very wrong.

Cushing’s disease is a secondary disease caused by a pituitary brain tumor. The pituitary is a small, bean-shaped gland, less than one centimeter in size, and referred to as the master gland. It sits at the base of our brain between our optic nerves and carotid arteries. This small but powerful gland controls our quality of life by producing major hormones.

A Cushing’s tumor produces high levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone, (ACTH), which in turn signals the pituitary gland to stop producing the normal production of ACTH. One of the key functions of the pituitary gland is to keep us alive by signaling the adrenal glands when to produce and when not to produce Cortisol, our one life-sustaining hormone. However, the ACTH producing tumor never shuts off the production of ACTH, causing the pituitary to stop its normal feedback system with the adrenal glands.

Therefore, the adrenal glands never stop overproducing our fight or flight hormone, cortisol. For years the medical community and others told me that my health issues were all in my head. Well, in fairness, they were right. Luckily for me, I knew I was not causing this madness. Although it still sounds strange to say, I was so happy to find out that I had a serious and life-threatening pituitary tumor because, for the first time, I knew where to start my fight.

Once I suspected I had Cushing’s disease, I had to find the experts to confirm the often-complicated diagnosis. And that’s when the universe guided me through more research to meet the team that helped save my life! Dr. Pejman Cohan, my neuro-endocrinologist, and Dr. Daniel Kelly, my neurosurgeon, the director of the Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, CA. My angels were in my own backyard!

Dr. Cohan soon confirmed my diagnosis of Cushing’s disease, and it was Dr. Kelly’s difficult task to remove the tiny tumor that wreaked so much havoc. On April 14, 2000, Dr. Kelly successfully removed the tumor, and the next chapter of my journey began: helping others who suffer from this horribly underdiagnosed, misunderstood, life-threatening disease.

For the past nineteen years, I have been honored as a pituitary patient advocate spokesperson both nationally and internationally. Pituitary Tumors are the Best Kept Secret in Medicine. I’ve remained dedicated along with a team of pituitary neuro-endocrine experts to raise public awareness and help educate, and in some cases, reeducate the medical community on recognizing the symptoms of a pituitary tumor and/or hormonal issues related to the neuroendocrine system.

Pituitary disease is uncommon but not rare; however, there are commonly four types of pituitary tumors: prolactin-producing tumors, acromegaly, caused by too much growth hormone, Cushing’s disease, too much ACTH causes a secondary disease of too much cortisol hormone, and non-functioning tumors, which have their own set of problems.

For more information, visit www.hormones411.org, and https://www.pacificneuroscienceinstitute.org/pituitary-disorders/

Or email Sharmyn at pituitarybuddy@hotmail.com or sharmyn@hormone411.org

Join us for support and education Pituitary Patient Support Group Meetings: https://www.pacificneuroscienceinstitute.org/resources/patient-resources/patient-support-groups/.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I can say in all honesty the darkest part of my life, struggling for a correct diagnosis, has turned into the brightest part of my life. The pituitary tumor experts I work closely with: Dr. Daniel Kelly, Dr. Garni Barkhoudarian, Dr. Pejman Cohan, and a handful of others are truly amazing.

These teams of experts respect and value my patient advocate perspective, and they have restored my faith in our medical community. I’m honored to have traveled this difficult journey with these brilliant, caring, and compassionate doctors along with many others who are dedicated patient advocates.

But truly, what makes this journey rewarding and worth the endless hours we’ve all put into the proper treatment and awareness of pituitary disease is the patients. Seeing how far we have come to help raise public awareness and education in our medical communities makes me extremely proud I could be an important part of it.

Speaking with the patients, seeing them get their lives back, helping them to make good, educated decisions about their treatment is really what keeps us all going. And the icing on my cake has been meeting two of my closest friends, Krystina, who had a prolactin tumor, and Shady, who had acromegaly—both had pituitary surgery with Dr. Kelly, and they are leading healthy and productive lives. I love them like my sisters.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Hormones411 – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
When I was growing up, I struggled all through school; learning wasn’t easy for me. One of my high school teachers had me stand up in the middle of her class in front of my peers while she berated and humiliated me over my poor grammar and spelling. I walked out of her class and never went back.

After that, I was petrified to write so much as a greeting card that someone would read. After barely graduating from high school, I was unable to pass the entrance exam for English 101 at our local college. I tested at a fourth-grade level. Earlier that year, I was diagnosed as severely dyslexic.

My high school in Southern California was overcrowded with 2100 students in my graduating class. My home life was chaotic, and there was no one there to help me either. I felt that my dream of becoming a writer was impossible. This was long before computers, so I stuffed my dreams of writing lighthearted mysteries way down inside.

But instead, I excelled at drawing, painting, graphic design, cartooning and photography; anything I could draw, design, capture or paint, I did extremely well. And I still love anything to do with creating art. After my surgery for the pituitary tumor, my passion to help others was bigger than my fear of writing. I knew I would have to write articles and correspond with medical professionals if I wanted to get their help and/or attention.

I created my first flyer, “They Were Right; It Was All in My Head—Pituitary Tumors. The Best Kept Secret in Medicine.” I was scared to death to let anyone see it, but I created a good design layout because of my graphic arts studies, and I finally worked up enough nerve to ask Dr. Kelly to look it over and edit it for mistakes. Dr. Kelly loved it, so after he made a few minor corrections, I was off and running!

The flyer traveled without the help of emails or social media, but rather it was distributed all over the country by people who read it and passed the flyer to someone they thought might have the same disease. This one little flyer helped save so many lives, and it started my patient advocate ball rolling. I took a couple of writing classes because I wanted to learn to be a better writer; one of the classes was to learn how to write for magazines.

I sent out thirteen query letters and got twelve rejections. But when the health editor from Woman’s Day magazine called me and asked if they could buy my story, I said, “I’m a writer; may I write it? And she said, yes! From there I continued writing and publishing my story and raising awareness about Pituitary disease. I’m not sure what was more rewarding, overcoming the challenges that had held me back with dyslexia or raising awareness about Cushing’s to over ten million readers; they both felt amazing.

Nineteen years after my pituitary surgery, it’s finally time for me to write my fun mysteries! I’m working on a three-book mystery series. I’ve finished the first draft, and I’m working on my revisiona. I hope to have, Dying to Date: Looking for Mr. Right but Finding Mr. Wrong, out in 2019; book two: Dying to Marry and book three: Dying to Divorce out after that. My Dying series website and Facebook page are coming soon. Praise to Lillian Nader, my amazing editor for her patience.

My goal is to get involved with speaking for schools to encourage kids not to let people discourage them from their dreams. It will always take hard work, but with dedication and a lot of effort, you can do what you love.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I have seen a lot of wonderful progress in  the work Dr. Kelly and his colleagues are doing at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute to advance treatments and improve the quality of life for their patients with cancerous brain tumors, pituitary tumors and so many other areas of the neurosciences. They are truly a comprehensive Center of Excellence.

I plan to continue helping them and their patients, and I am also excited to write my mystery stories. I will continue to use my public platform to help raise awareness for pituitary disease. I hope to have the opportunity one day to inspiring children the importance of reading great books and telling their stories.

Contact Info:

From http://voyagela.com/interview/meet-sharmyn-mcgraw-hormones411-santa-monica/?platform=hootsuite


Women’s Day, March 9, 2004 issue

Woman's Day, March 9, 2004 issue

What’s Wrong with Me?

I’d never heard of Cushing’s disease, until it was revealed as the culprit behind my mysterious illness

By Sharmyn McGraw
Photographed by Brett Panelli

For years I was a size two. I worked hard to maintain my weight by exercising and eating a healthy diet—I even had a personal trainer. But in 1993, at the age of 31, my body rapidly changed. In four days I gained 11 pounds, and by six months it was 85. I tried eating less and working out more, but my weight just kept going up.

One year and 100 extra pounds later, my appearance was drastically changed. With most of the weight centered around my stomach, I looked as if I were pregnant with twins. My face and chin were round and the back of my neck had a buffalo hump. On top of it all, my thick blond hair began falling out in handfuls.

The anxiety and depression were nearly unbearable. I was a 31-year-old woman with a 227-pound body living in Newport Beach, California, a town south of Los Angeles where there’s no such thing as being too thin. Obesity just does not exist, especially among my peers. As an interior designer, I was often invited to social events, but I was so embarrassed by my appearance that I started avoiding them.

What was going on inside my body was just as troubling. I felt as if I’d had a triple espresso on an empty stomach. I was flying at top speed with constant jitters and chronic indigestion, rarely sleeping more than two hours a night. Mentally and physically, I was exhausted.

Searching for an Answer

While my girlfriends were busy planning their weddings and starting their families, I went from doctor to doctor hoping that someone would figure out what was wrong with me. In seven years, I sought help from more than 15 highly recommended physicians, as well as nutritionists, psychotherapists, an acupuncturist and a naturopath. Pleading my case as if I was on trial for a crime I did not commit, my closing argument was always the same: “I eat a healthy diet and exercise fanatically. This rapid weight gain, anxiety and depression is completely out of my nature.”

Nearly ever doctor I saw, convinced that I was a compulsive overeater with a mood disorder, simply offered advice on dieting and exercise. “Maybe you just think you work out as often as Jane Fonda,” was one physician’s comment.

One doctor labeled me a hypochondriac, and another said I had too much yeast in my system. Over the course of seven years, I also heard that I had fibromyalgia, a spastic colon, acid reflux and a sleep disorder, was prediabetic and premenopausal. I endured painful and expensive medical tests, including two endoscopies, a colonoscopy, a bone marrow biopsy and multiple CAT scans and ultrasounds. I had my thyroid removed and ankle and knee surgery (due to the excess weight on my joints).

During this time, with my family living far away in Illinois, I relied on my friends for support. Many of them were helpful, but some just continued to drop subtle hints about the latest diets they had read about. As for having a relationship—anxiety, chronic muscle pain and uncontrollable diarrhea were just a few of the reasons I stopped dating completely.

As days turned into years, I knew my symptoms were getting worse. My mind was no longer sharp and quick, and I stuttered to complete even simple sentences. I was not sure how much more I could endure, but I was determined that my obituary would not read, “Obese woman dies of unknown causes.”

I gathered all of my medical records and went to work studying every line. I found there was just one thing almost every doctor agreed on: My cortisol level was too high. In fact, it was three times the normal level for this hormone, yet none of the doctors felt that it had anything to do with my laundry list of complaints. By this point, I was fairly certain that it did.

Borrowing a friend’s computer, I went on the Internet and typed in the word “cortisol.” Up popped an article on Cushing’s syndrome, a hormonal disorder caused by excessively high blood levels of cortisol, and there on the screen were every one of my symptoms. I couldn’t believe it! Had I possibly diagnosed myself seven long years after my symptoms began?

Suddenly I remembered that I had seen the word “Cushing’s” in a report from a clinic I’d been to four years earlier. Ironically, the doctors had ruled it out because my eyes weren’t yellow and I didn’t have mouth sores. Now my next step was to convince a doctor that I had this disease.

Finally, a Diagnosis!

I’ll never forget the day I was ushered into the office of endocrinologist Andre Van Herle, M.D., at UCLA Medical Center. I was prepared to once again plead my case. But without knowing anything about me, he simply shook my hand and said, “So you are here because you have Cushing’s.”

This was a doctor with more than 40 years of experience in diagnosing people with the syndrome, and he knew at first glance that I had the physical appearance of someone with the disorder. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I was overwhelmed with emotion, and tears streamed down my face. Most importantly, I realized I was not crazy and someone was willing to help me.

Dr. Van Herle and his colleague, Pejman Cohan, M.D., soon confirmed through blood tests that I did have Cushing’s syndrome. In my case, as in about 70 percent of cases, the problem was a tumor in my pituitary gland that was causing the overproduction of the hormone adrenocorticotropin (ACTH). This hormone stimulates the body’s adrenal glands to produce cortisol, the life-sustaining “fight or flight” hormone, which has many important functions. High amounts of cortisol, however, can wreak havoc, causing rapid weight gain, upper-body obesity, a rounded face, increased fat around the neck, anxiety and depression. Over time, abnormally high levels can even be life-threatening.

The next step was surgery to remove the tumor in my pituitary, located at the base of the brain, but there was one more obstacle. Although my hormone levels indicated I had a tumor, it was apparently so small that it wasn’t picked up on an MRI. So there was a chance that my surgeon, Daniel Kelly, M.D., director of UCLA’s Pituitary Tumor and Neuroendocrine Program, wouldn’t be able to locate it. Thankfully, he didn’t encounter that problem. On April 14, 2000, Dr. Kelly was successful in removing the tiny tumor though an incision in the back of my nasal cavity.

Today, four years later, I am 100 percent cured, and my body and mind are finally free from the horrible effects of Cushing’s. I’ve been able to lose 40 of the 100 pounds that I gained and am confident I can lose the rest. As a volunteer, I help facilitate a UCLA pituitary tumor support group, and I recently spoke to medical students at UCLA School of Medicine, explaining my difficulties obtaining a correct diagnosis. Looking back over nearly 10 years, it’s painful to think about all that I’ve been through. But I am so proud of myself for never giving up. I hope my story will help encourage and empower other women to do the same.

Sharmyn McGraw is a member of the Cushing’s Help and Support Message Boards.


Pituitary Cushing’s: Sharmyn (sharm on the boards) was featured on the Montel Show.

In 1993 at the age of 31, Sharmyn went from a socially acceptable dress size two and full of life to an obese size 22 and barely able to function in just one year. Despite the years of dedication to maintain a shapely muscular body, she suddenly had no control over the rapid weight gain. Her hours of personal fitness training and a healthy diet did nothing to stop the pounds from piling on. Sharmyn gained as much as eleven pounds in four days, 85 pounds in six months and 100 pounds in a year. Soon the weight gain was the least of her health problems; her hair fell out by the handfuls, her stomach stuck out like she was pregnant with twins, emotionally she felt like a misfit, and much more.

For seven horrific years Sharmyn searched the medical community for help, but over and over doctors told her there was nothing medically wrong with her…nothing some good old dieting and exercise couldn’t fix.

In spite of the many years of challenges within our healthcare system, Sharmyn ultimately diagnosed herself via the Internet and was fortunate to find a team of experts at UCLA Medical Center who confirmed her diagnosis. On April 14, 2000. Dr. Daniel Kelly, a world-renowned pituitary neurosurgeon—her angel – successfully removed the tumor and literally gave Sharmyn her life back.

Discuss this TV show.


Pituitary Cushing’s – interview with Sharmyn (sharm on the boards)


Cushing’s disease-Pituitary Gland

Sharmyn McGraw searched for answers for seven years for whatever it was that was killing her; finally she diagnosed herself via the Internet with Cushing’s disease, caused by a pituitary brain tumor.

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Share Your Experiences with Cushing’s

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The popular website “How Stuff Work”s is doing a survey of all kinds of diseases and Cushing’s is one of them!

Share your information and help get the word out to the world in general.

(I’m MaryO on there and I shared about my pituitary surgery and its aftermath.  I hope this info helps someone else like these boards and related websites have)

The idea is simple. Everyone shares their experiences with different treatments. StuffThatWorks automatically transforms these experiences into data about which treatments work best, and for whom

The questionnaire is here: https://stuff.health/s/u0A9djA5

Together, we’ll figure out which treatments work best for Cushing’s syndrome.

 

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Gianna, Pituitary Bio

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In March 2020, college student Gianna Schembari, 23, began to battle an illness that she would later learn is an extremely rare disorder of the endocrine system, the body’s complex network of glands and organs which uses hormones to control critical functions such as metabolism, energy level, and the ability to respond to injury, stress, and mood.

“The most noticeable symptoms that happened that early were the significant weight gain, my mood swings,” recalls Ms. Schembari. “I just kind of started getting into a really depressive state. I would get these headaches and I would get heart palpitations. I mean, things just started getting worse very quickly.”

Eventually, an MRI revealed a small benign tumor, called a microadenoma, located on Gianna’s pituitary gland. That’s an indication of Cushing disease, a rare and serious disorder that affects only 10 to 15 people per million. With proper surgical or medical treatments, a person with Cushing can return to a healthier life — as was the case with Ms. Schembari after she met a team of experts in removing pituitary tumors at Miami Neuroscience Institute, part of Baptist Health.

(Watch video and hear from patient Gianna Schembari and her surgical team: Neurosurgeon Vitaly Siomin, M.D., Miami Neuroscience Institute, and Francisco Pernas, M.D., an ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist) affiliated with Baptist Health. Video by Carol Higgins.)

 

Neurosurgeon Vitaly Siomin, M.D., Miami Neuroscience Institute.

“The pituitary gland is one of the most critical parts of the brain and I would picture it as a command center that would produce the critical hormones and send them to the bloodstream,” explains neurosurgeon Vitaly Siomin, M.D. “Cushing’s disease is a condition when one of the hormones, which is called ACTH, is produced in excessive quantities.”

Once in the bloodstream, the ACTH hormone stimulates different organs of the body, and patients “may present clinically with high blood pressure and with some fat deposition in a very abnormal way. Some patients may decompensate and develop diabetes. The immune response is altered. They may develop brittle bones, pimples on the face and other problems.”

Medication to help shrink the tumor presented severe side effects.

“It made me very, very sick,” said Ms. Schembari. “I could not function. I was in bed. We were just like: Okay, maybe we need to go ask somebody else what they think.”

Ms. Schembari and her family then turned to neurosurgeon, Michael McDermott, M.D., chief medical executive at Miami Neuroscience Institute. A multi-specialty team of physicians experienced in the treatment of pituitary tumors was assembled for her case, including neurosurgeon Vitaly Siomin, M.D. and Francisco Pernas, M.D., an ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist) or otolaryngologist, affiliated with Baptist Hospital and other Baptist Health facilities.

“When I met with the team of all of my different doctors, I just instantly felt like everything was going to be okay,” said Ms. Schembari. “They knew exactly what it was and then they just had their plan as to the treatment.”

Dr. Pernas emphasizes the importance of the team approach at Miami Neuroscience Institute. “Some neurosurgeons will do the surgery on their own,” he said. “The difficulty becomes in the nasal anatomy. We as ENTs are skilled at nasal anatomy, and we’re skilled at nasal endoscopy.”

Dr. Siomin explains how technology has helped advance the removal of pituitary tumors via minimally invasive techniques.

“We could put the scopes through the nostrils and navigate the scopes using what’s called the image guidance technology,” says Dr. Siomin. “It is just like GPS that most people use for driving. We use the same technology for surgery that helps us to go directly to the tumor, open up very minimally and resect the tumor using the endoscopic visualization.

Ms. Schembari recalls her condition before the surgery. “I had high blood pressure, anxiety, panic attacks, nausea, vomiting — all that stuff and I was on about five medications.” But now, she is on track to a full recovery. “Since the surgery, I am not on one medication and all of those symptoms are completely resolved,” she says. “It’s been about seven months since the surgery and I feel amazing.”

Says Dr. Siomin of the pituitary tumor: “It’s all gone. And she has normal pituitary gland tissue.”

To say that Ms. Schembari is grateful is a huge understatement: “They are the best doctors on earth. I feel like a whole new person. I basically got my life back and I’m super, super happy.”

From https://baptisthealth.net/baptist-health-news/i-basically-got-my-life-back-how-experts-at-miami-neuroscience-institute-defeated-this-college-students-tumor-and-debilitating-disorder/

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Carlin, Recovered from Pituitary Tumor

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I’m 66 yo and have recovered from Cushings but now take hydrocortisone, thyroxine, ddavp and citalopram. It’s was a real fight to find a dr who believed me. (my GP said I was a morbidly obese hypochondriac).

It has been 16 years and I’ve lost 75 pounds. Sometimes life is still tough, but I can handle it.

My endocrinologist was Dr Katznelson at Stanford University Palo Alto CA and my surgeon was Edward Laws.

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Deva, Pituitary Bio

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From the February, 2022 issue of Reader’s Digest:

 

readers-digest.jpg

 

Read the original article at readers-digest-misdiagnosed

 

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Actress Charly Clive, Pituitary Adenoma

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Best friends Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson thought carefully about what to call the tumour that was growing in Charly’s brain.

The doctors had their own name for the golf-ball-sized growth sitting right behind Charly’s left eye — a pituitary adenoma — but the friends decided they needed something less scary. They flirted with calling it Terry Wogan (‘as in Pitui-Terry Wogan,’ says Ellen), but that didn’t seem quite right.

So Britney Spears fan Charly, then 23, suggested Britney. Bingo! Not only was she ‘iconic and fabulous’, but Britney was also one of life’s survivors. From then on, they were a threesome — Charly, Ellen and Britney the brain tumour — although Ellen is at pains to point out that this Britney was never a friend.

What a thing to have to deal with, so young. The pair, who met at school in rural Oxfordshire, are now actresses. Charly’s biggest role to date has been in the critically acclaimed 2019 Channel 4 series Pure, while Ellen starred in the Agatha Christie mini-series The Pale Horse.

But this week they appeared together in Britney, a BBC comedy based on the story of Charly’s brain tumour. The TV pilot (and yes, they are hoping for a full series) is an expansion of a sell-out stage show they performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016.

The production is admittedly surreal. Viewers are led inside Charly’s brain and the show includes a scene where Charly dons an inflatable sumo-wrestler suit on the day of her diagnosis. Poetic licence? No, it really happened.

‘My dad’s mate had given him a sumo suit as a silly Christmas present and so, on Doomsday, we took photos of me in it.’

The tone was set for how these friends would deal with the biggest challenge of their lives: they would laugh through it, somehow.

As the women, now 28, point out, what was the alternative?

Charly says: ‘It was that thing of laughing at the monster so you are not scared of it. If you cry when do you stop? It was easier to make light of it.’

Their show is not really about a brain tumour. It’s a celebration of friendship. Ellen pretty much moved in with Charly’s family during this time (‘To be in place when I exploded, so she could pick up the debris,’ says Charly).

The pair live together today, finishing each other’s sentences as we speak on Zoom — and at one point both miming Charly’s brain surgery (with gruesome sound effects).

This sort of silliness rooted their friendship, which started at the age of 14 when they wrote their own plays (Finding Emo, anyone?) while at school together in Abingdon. Charly later moved to New York to study dramatic arts, and Ellen studied at Cambridge.

In 2015, Charly came home for a visit, and went to see her GP (played in the drama by Omid Djalili) about her lack of periods and a blind spot in her peripheral vision. An MRI scan showed a mass on her brain. ‘They said it had eroded the bone in my nose and was pressing on the optic nerve, and it was lucky we had caught it,’ she says. ‘The next step would have been discovering it because I’d gone blind.’

Even worse, the tumour was so close to her carotid artery that removal might kill her — and they still had no idea if it was cancerous. Into the breach stepped Ellen. ‘I saw it as my job to make her laugh, which is what I’d always done anyway,’ she says. They both talk of toppling into limbo, ‘almost like a fantasy world’, says Charly. ‘As I was going through the tests, we’d do impressions of the doctors and create our own scenarios.’

The friends talk about sitting up into the night, watching TV. There is a touching moment when Charly admits she was afraid to sleep, and Ellen knew it. ‘It’s hard when you are thinking “What if the tumour grows another inch in the night and I don’t wake up?” ’

Charly was operated on in March 2016, and Ellen remembers the anaesthetist confiding that Charly’s heart had stopped on the operating table.

‘He wasn’t the most tactful person we’ve ever met. He said “Oh my God, guys, she died”.’ Charly makes a jazz hands gesture. ‘And guess who is alive again?’ Even at that darkest moment, there were flashes of humour. Ellen laughs at the memory of the surgeon in his scrubs, with wellies on. ‘They had blood on them. I was transfixed. I wanted to ask “Is that Charly’s . . . brain blood?” ’

In the stage version of the show, the anaesthetist gets two full scenes. ‘He’s the heartthrob of the piece,’ says Charly. ‘A sexy rugger bloke who is crap at talking to people.’

The days that followed the surgery were hideous — and yet they, too, have been mined for comedy. Charly’s face was bandaged, ‘as if I’d had a Beverly Hills facelift’, and she was warned that she could not sneeze. ‘If I did, bits of my brain would come out my nose,’ she says.

Ellen read her extracts from Harry Potter but ‘made them smutty’, which confused the already confused Charly further. ‘I was drug-addled and not myself, and in the most bizarre pain, concentrated in my face’.

‘That week after the surgery was the worst part of all,’ says Ellen, suddenly serious. ‘She was behaving oddly and there was this unacknowledged fear: was this Charly for ever?’ Oh, the relief when the old Charly eventually re-emerged — albeit a more fragile, often tearful version.

It was Ellen who persuaded Charly to take their stage show about her illness public — and it went on to win much critical acclaim. ‘I wanted Charly to see it as something other than just this rubbish chapter that needed to be forgotten about,’ says Ellen.

For her part, Charly credits her best friend as her saviour: ‘I don’t know how I would have got through it all without Ellen.’

The good news is that Britney was not cancerous, although surgery did not obliterate her entirely. ‘She’s still there, but tiny — just a sludge. I’ve been told that she won’t grow though. If I ever do get another brain tumour, it won’t be Britney.’

Off they go again, imagining what is happening now inside Charly’s brain. ‘Britney is still in there, trying on outfits for a comeback tour, but it won’t happen,’ says Charly. Ellen nods. ‘It’s over,’ she says. ‘But she’s just left a pair of shoes behind.’

Britney is available to watch on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer

Adapted from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-10264203/I-laughed-brain-tumour-Id-never-stop-crying-Actress-Charly-Clive.html

MaryO, 34th Pituitary Surgery Anniversary

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Today is the 34th anniversary of my pituitary surgery at NIH.

As one can imagine, it hasn’t been all happiness and light.  Most of my journey has been documented here and on the message boards – and elsewhere around the web.

My Cushing’s has been in remission for most of these 34 years.  Due to scarring from my pituitary surgery, I developed adrenal insufficiency.

I took growth hormone for a while.

When I got kidney cancer, I had to stop the GH, even though no doctor would admit to any connection between the two.

A few years ago I went back on it (Omnitrope this time).  I am posting some of how that’s going here.

During nephrectomy, doctors removed my left kidney, my adrenal gland, and some lymph nodes.  Thankfully, the cancer was contained – but my adrenal insufficiency is even more severe than it was.

In the last several years, I’ve developed ongoing knee issues.  Because of my cortisol use to keep the AI at bay, my endocrinologist doesn’t want me to get a cortisone injection in my knee.  September 12, 2018 I did get that knee injection (Kenalog)  and it’s been one of the best things I ever did.  I didn’t look forward to telling my endo!  I have had a couple more injections.  I’ve been approved for a new gel injection but haven’t started that yet – that would be a three-time injection over 3 weeks.

I also developed an allergy to blackberries last October and had to take Prednisone – and I had to tell my endo that, too!

This year I had squamous cell carcinoma on my nose and had Mohs Surgery.


But, this is a post about Giving Thanks.  The series will be continued on this blog unless I give thanks about something else Cushing’s related 🙂

I am so thankful that in 1987 the NIH existed and that my endo knew enough to send me there.

I am thankful for Dr. Ed Oldfield, my pituitary neurosurgeon at NIH.  Unfortunately, Dr. Oldfield died.

I’m thankful for Dr. Harvey Cushing and all the work he did.  Otherwise, I might be the fat lady in Ringling Brothers now.

MaryO/COVID Vaccine 2

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Quick takeaway: I have adrenal insufficiency (one adrenal was removed with my kidney due to cancer, steroid-dependent (post-Cushing’s Disease), growth hormone insufficiency, panhypopituitary.  I had some issues after my first COVID-19 injection (Moderna) but not too bad.  My second injection was March 15, 2021.  This time I was smart and updosed on my Cortef (hydrocortisone) right after the shot.  My main side effects this time were chills, extreme thirst, fatigue…and a craving for salad(!)


Earlier in March, CVS sent out an email with a few questions to answer before confirming my March 15 appointment.  On March 14, they sent me a text and when I clicked on the link, it said I had answered all the questions already.  YAY

I got this information again from CVS:

On the day of your appointment:

•Please arrive early enough to check in before your scheduled appointment. Arriving late for your appointment may result in an extended wait time.

•Bring your ID and insurance card, voucher or other coverage

•Don’t forget a face covering—wearing it throughout your visit is required

•When you arrive, please check in at the pharmacy area inside the store or follow the signs for the COVID-19 vaccine

CVS tips for vaccine shots:

•Wearing short sleeves makes getting a shot easier and faster

•If you must wear long sleeves, dress in layers with the short sleeves underneath

Review the patient fact sheet about the specific vaccine you are receiving

What to do if you feel sick or have COVID-19 symptoms:

•Contact your health care provider immediately

•If your provider recommends it, get tested for COVID-19

Cancel your appointment

•Don’t come to the pharmacy

•Schedule a new appointment when you’re well

After your vaccine:

•Be prepared to stay for 15 to 30 minutes after the COVID-19 vaccination so you can be observed for side effects.

•If you experience side effects from your COVID-19 vaccine dose, you may find some guidance at Coronavirus: Vaccine, Prevention Tips & FAQs

•The CDC has created a way for you to report how you feel after the COVID-19 vaccination through a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to check in with you. Learn about v-safe and sign up today.

Monday, March 15, 2021: When I got to CVS, I found that everything was very well run like before.

I got a text from CVS asking me to click a link when I arrived at 3:30 and it gave me directions on where to go.

This time I wasn’t met by anyone  at door but I knew from before where to walk following arrows on floor.  Then I was met by so someone who checked my name and he asked if I had done the texting thing (yes!).

There were 2 people ahead of me that I could see.  It went very fast.  I was in the little partitioned off area within less than 10 minutes.

The nurse asked if left arm was ok to use.

The shot was not quite as fast – I felt it a little but I am used to giving myself daily injections so this was no biggie..

The nurse said if I get a headache, take Tylenol only.  She also said to stay hydrated.

I sat in the waiting area for 15 minutes to be sure there were no problems  There were about 10 or so people sitting around the store that I could see at various stages of their 15 minutes.

This time I was smart – right after leaving the CVS I took a stress dose of Cortef (hydrocortisone).

Around 7 pm i noticed I had what I used to call a “lightning bolt headache”. There is pain in one spot of my head and it moves quickly down, through my brain and out.  I used to get these long ago and I didn’t even know they were a thing until I just looked them andy they are called “Thunderclap Headaches”:

Severe headaches that appear suddenly like a lightning bolt are a cause for concern. This isn’t a sharp pain that goes away as suddenly as it began, but a pain that comes on like a light switch or feels as if someone has hit you in the head with a hammer.

Who knew – I thought I’d made them up.  I hope this was the only one.

I could not believe how thirsty I was for the first couple days.  My mouth felt like a desert so I drank lots of ice water which meant I needed to run to the bathroom a lot.  Sometimes, I didn’t quite make it.

I was so tired, I skipped my growth hormone injection.

About 10 pm I started being very cold.  I don’t know if that’s a symptom but I noted that on February 17, also.

My arm seems like it is more sore than last time.

About 3 am, I got up needing to get a drink of water and I was still so cold.  I was under 3 blankets, wearing a hoodie and a very warm knit cap.  I didn’t have the death dreams like last time but some that were work-related and all jumbled up.  This has to get done before that can, but then, this other thing happens, type thing.  I just got up, got a little hydrated and checked my emails.

As soon as I typed this sentence, I put my mittens back on.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021:  My arm was sorer than Monday and I was still feeling cold, sleeping off and on.  Still very thirsty.

I skipped my growth hormone injection again.

I had trouble sleeping, especially if I tried to roll over.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021:  We didn’t go to water exercise. I planned that this time, based on my reaction to the first shot.

I had a little headache, dizzy, congested, very tired, lots of brain fog, thirsty. I slept more until about 1 pm and I cancelled piano lessons for the day.  

After cancelling lessons, I went back to sleep. I was feeling cold but I don’t know if it was chills or really a cold.

At that point, I realized I hadn’t eaten for 2 days or had any coffee!. 

For reasons that are very strange to me, I started craving tossed salad, specifically one from a certain local restaurant.  I have never in my life craved salad.

I had some dinner (I was surprised that I could eat any) at 9:25 and did my growth hormone injection.

I went to bed at 11 pm.  Tossed and turned all night.

Thursday, March 18, 2021: I’m a little more tired than usual but ok.  I spent time napping and working alternated through the day. My boss called and he’d just had his Johnson and Johnson shot on Tuesday.  The call was pretty funny because we both were brain foggy and trying to think of words.  His vaccine is the one-dose type – he was glad to get it but found it weird that he could actually feel the medicine going in.  That sounds to me more like it was injected into a vein than a muscle.

My DH went out to Domino’s and got some dinner – and finally, I got that salad!

Friday, March 19, 2021: Just the normal tiredness.  Hooray!  We went back to water exercise.  I took off my bandage for the first time and noticed that the site had bled a little. Oh well. While I was in the pool, I had another of those lightning headaches but didn’t get out of the pool for Tylenol because I knew it was quick.

Saturday, March 20, 2021: DH gets his second shot!

In 14 days, I’ll  be considered to be vaccinated.  April 8, we will go visit our new grandson in NYC without quarantining or testing.


Info below from https://medshadow.org/covid19-vaccine-side-effects/  I’ve had the bold ones so far after the second injection.

Moderna

Moderna started Phase III clinical trials for its vaccine candidate in July. In earlier trials, nearly half of patients experienced common adverse effects like injection site pain, rash, headaches, muscle soreness, nausea and fevers after the second injection. These effects generally subsided within two days. CNBC spoke to a few individuals, some participating in Moderna’s trial and some in Pfizer’s trial who said much the same thing: the side effects were intense and included a high fever, body aches, bad headaches and exhaustion, but were worth it for protection from Covid-19.

In the FDA report published in December, the most common side effects were pain at injection site (91.6% of patients), fatigue (68.5%), headache (63.0%), muscle pain (59.6%), joint pain (44.8%), and chills (43.4%). Three patients experienced Bell’s Palsy, a sudden, and usually temporary, weakening or paralysis of the facial muscles.

A few patients with facial fillers experienced swelling after receiving the vaccine. They were treated with antihistamines and steroids. In California, officials halted the use of one particular batch of Moderna vaccines (lot 41L20A) after a small cluster (fewer than 10) of patients at one particular site experienced allergic reactions that required medical attention.

Out of the first 7.5 million doses administered from Dec 14- Jan 18, 19 cases of anaphylaxis were reported to VAERS after the Moderna vaccine. No patients have died from anaphylaxis. Patients are now being monitored for 15-30 minutes after receiving the vaccine to watch for signs of anaphylaxis.

Many patients are reporting injection site reactions that show up shortly after the injection or up to a week later. These reactions — which are characterized by swelling, redness, itching, rashes, heat and pain — are expected to last a day to a week. Physicians emphasize that while these effects can be scary, they are not dangerous and should not prevent someone from getting the second shot. So far, doctors do not report seeing these reactions after the second shot, however so few have been given so far that scientists are not sure how common it will be on round two.

The CDC reports that 11% of patients experienced swollen lymph nodes after the first shot. That raised to 16% after the second shot.

A study posted on Feb 1 showed that patients who received the vaccine after having been previously infected with COVID-19 showed greater immune response to the first shot and more intense side effects that are associated with strong immune responses like fever and muscle aches. The study included patients who received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. Some scientists believe these patients may only need a single shot to provide sufficient immunity, but more research is needed.

Moderna has announced that it will begin testing its vaccine in children and adolescents, who they believe may have stronger immune responses, leading to more intense side effects.

This page has information about the other brands of vaccine: https://fairfaxcountyemergency.wpcomstaging.com/2021/02/16/what-you-need-to-know-when-you-get-vaccinated-and-after-you-get-vaccinated/

A really good article – Coronavirus Life: What To Expect When You Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

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