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Sahana (Sahana), Adrenal Bio

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My daughter had hair loss since age of 15
At 16 she had a hump at the back of her neck
Age 17 had anxiety, negative thoughts and memory loss.
Weight gain, acanthosis and menstrual irregularities.

I had shown her to many dermatologists for hair loss. At 16 had shown her to 2 endocrinologists
At 17 to psychiatry, gynaecologist and 2 more endocrinologists finally arriving at diagnosis after cortisol and ACTH tests followed by dexa suppression and CT abdomen.
She was operated laparoscopically and is now 7 mths postop.
She is off steroid supplementation and is improving steadily.

I WISH THERE WAS MORE AWARENESS ABOUT THIS DISEASE !!
My daughter has suffered a lot and I pray she recovers completely 🙏🏼

 

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Patty, Pituitary Bio

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April is Cushing’s Disease Awareness Month. I would like to help raise public awareness about this debilitating illness. It is so misunderstood by most medical professionals that their patients often suffer for many years without a correct diagnosis and, in far too many cases, never get a diagnosis at all.

I personally suffered from a common list of Cushing’s symptoms for years. I sought help from medical professionals and was told nothing medically was wrong with me other than I was menopausal and needed to lose weight.

I gained 70 pounds in a short amount of time due to a tiny tumor in my pituitary gland which was overproducing the hormone ACTH, causing Cushing’s.

Besides rapid weight gain, my forearms bruised. I had a red face and neck, grew a hump on the back of my neck. My belly swelled to pregnancy size. I had high blood pressure.

No matter what I ate, how much I worked out, or how much I explained to everyone around me that I was not doing this to myself, no one believed me. I went about five years not sure what I would do because my body was slowly breaking down and was in really bad health.

In 2016 my back went out and I needed surgery. I was at a followup visit with a PA when he asked if I knew why I blew my back out.

Desperate, I got emotional and told him my story. I told him I thought I had Cushing’s disease based on my own internet research. He was the first person to listen to me and gave me a referral to see an endocrinologist. The endocrinologist took one look at me and knew without testing, although we did test and it was confirmed.

I met with my neurosurgeon and ENT and had surgery June 2017 to remove a 1 centimeter pituitary tumor, which lies at the base of your brain. I will forever be grateful to the team of doctors who saved my life and also to the PA who listened to me.

Life is slowly getting back to normal (or my new normal, I should say.)

Shared from https://www.thecamarilloacorn.com/articles/disease-may-be-hard-to-diagnose/

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Mika, Undiagnosed Bio

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I’m 16, going on 17… and I think I’m close to being diagnosed with Cushings. Quite frankly its scaring me so I’ll just do my best to get my story out there.

I’ve always kind of been on the heavier side compared to other people my age, even when I was really little. However, my weight has shot up from 60 kg to about 110 kg in 2-4 years, and my already awful confidence is basically shattered.

When I got my growth spurt I got severe stretch marks, but I thought it was nothing, and my parents attributed it to me growing so quickly or something along those lines.

I’m in constant pain, I’ve barely been to school since September 2016. I can barely move half the time due to severe exhaustion and pain, I fear for my future.

We originally thought all the pain was from gluten intolerance, which I was diagnosed with, late 2015. We completely cut gluten out of my diet, but instead of getting better, my symptoms got worse. The exhaustion lead to a diagnosis of chronic fatigue in mid 2016.

On a whim I’m guessing, my doctor ordered tests for ACTH when he got told of my worsening symptoms. It was much higher than it should’ve been, and I got forwarded to an endocrinologist, more tests, ect… I need to go back in a few days for the results, I’m becoming more and more nervous the more I wait.

My already bad mental health has taken a hit, as well. I was never really mentally okay due to a horrible string of things happening to me in my childhood, but when this popped up my illnesses got 10x worse, to the point I’ve harmed myself and attempted suicide. Even when I feel okay enough physically, I can’t go outside without being scared something will happen to me or that everyone is judging me for how I look. I was on medication for depression, but I was able to function even less when I was on it, so I was taken off of it. I have depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other disorders which have been diagnosed and they’ve all worsened in some way.

My schooling has taken an even bigger hit, I can’t think right due to disturbed sleep, general tiredness and headaches. I used to be a fairly good student and before I left, my grades had dropped significantly, my teachers and peers were looking down on me for how far I had fallen.

I used to constantly blame myself for my weight, I’ve hated it since I was very little, so at least this gives me a small bit of relief that its not completely my fault.

I just want to get my life back, I have my whole life ahead of me, but my teenage years are basically being stolen from me like I had my childhood stolen. While everyone else my age worries about tests I worry on if I can ever move out of my house or even walk to the shops again. It feels wrong and cruel. My symptoms have suddenly gotten much worse and I’ve developed new ones, and I honestly get more scared by the day.

Everyone else’s posts give me a tiny bit of hope for the future, I just hope I can one day live like everyone else does and not be weighed down completely by illnesses. It will be a slow road, but I just hope I can get there in the end.

Thank you for reading this to the end if you have, sorry if its just a jumble of words. ^^;

 

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Mary S (ladysslipper), Adrenal Bio

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Originally from December 28, 2007

I recently completed a clinical trial at NIH because of an adrenal nodule. I also have hyperplasia of both adrenals.

Turns out I have primary hyperaldosteronism (which had previously been diagnosed) as well as elevated cortisol. I was told I don’t have Cushings but could develop it. Yet I do have unbelievably excessive sweating and have just begun to develop what I assume to be a buffalo hump–a lump at the top of my spine between my shoulders that is hard to the touch and painful.

My ability to handle stress is nearly nil; I sleep upward of twelve hours and more a day and yet get exhausted doing the littlest things. I’ve lost a lot of weight over the past two years because of nearly daily diarrhea–which I now believe may be caused by a deteriorating liver as I also have Heptatis C–and yet I have a fatty paunch which is beginning to show stretch marks I didn’t know I had.

My skin heals poorly and bruises very easily. I have splotchy skin, i..e, dark patches and totally pigment-less patches on my face. I was told my hypothalamus produces too much CRH which, in turn, triggers the ACTH to produce too much cortisol.

With two, possibly three, chronic conditions, I am beginning to worry about returning to work after my medical leave of absence ends this January.

I was on the pheochromocytoma support board until my diagnosis, and I know how helpful it was to have a group to turn to. I’m glad to see this one looks like a similarly supportive and informative group.

 

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Sophie M (Sophie), Pituitary Bio

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The pituitary gland

Hi everyone
My name is Sophie, I’m 35 yr old. I’m french and looking for some supports and advice since I’ve been recently diadnosed with the Cushing desease. I am still waiting to have more examinations by my levels of both cortisol and ACTH indicated it comes from the hypophys. I’ve most of the other symptoms. I think I’ve ths for a long time (maybe 10 years or even more).


I’d be glad to chat with people who were operated. I love speaking english that’s why I’ve susbribed to this group. But if someone wants to write me in french, Id be happy to reply in french also!


Bye for now,
Sophie

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Doc Karen, Pituitary and BLA Bio

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Karen’s Story

Life was good! In fact, life was great! I was married to the love of my life. We had a beautiful little girl. My husband and I had both earned our graduate degrees. I earned my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and was growing my clinical practice. I loved my work!

In October, 2006, my life was turned upside down when I gained 30 pounds in 30 days! I knew this was not normal at all. I sought answers but my doctor kept insisting that I wasn’t eating the right foods, that I wasn’t exercising hard enough, and finally that it was genetic. However, I was always a thin person, I ate pretty healthy foods, and I was pretty active. Red flags became even greater when my physician put me on prescription weight loss drugs and I STILL gained another 30 pounds. I knew my body and I knew something was wrong but I had no one to validate what was going on.

In January, 2010, to my surprise, I learned that I was miraculously pregnant with our second daughter. I was so sick during that pregnancy and,  again, my doctors couldn’t figure out why. My OBGYN was very supportive, yet so concerned. Her solution was to put me on bed rest. I became so ill that she told me that “my only job was to sit still and wait to have a baby”. I did give birth to a healthy baby girl four weeks early. Little did I know, then, how much of a miracle she was.

During the latter part of my pregnancy, while flipping through channels on television, I came across a Cushing’s episode on the health TV show, “Mystery Diagnosis”.

 

 

I knew right away that this diagnosis fit everything I had been experiencing: years of weird and unexplained symptoms, gaining 150 pounds for no reason, an onset of diabetes, high blood pressure, and an overall sense of doom.

You see, my friends and family witnessed me go from a vibrant young Clinical Psychologist in practice, to someone whose health deteriorated due to the symptoms of Cushing’s, as I tried for many years to get answers from professionals. As I continued to eat a healthy, 1000 calorie per day diet, engage in exercise with multiple personal trainers, and follow through with referrals to consult with dietitians; I continued to gain weight at a rate of 5 pounds per week and experience rapidly declining health. Finally, after watching that Cushing’s episode of Mystery Diagnosis, I found my answer! Ultimately, I sought the expertise of and treatment from a team of experts at the Seattle Pituitary Center in Seattle, WA. I had brain surgery in Seattle on November 16th, 2011. I want to tell you how I found the people who helped save my life…

On June 9, 2011, I went to my first MAGIC conference. I had never heard of them but someone on one of the online support groups told me about it.  At that time, I was working but was very, very sick. We suspected at that time that I had been sick for years! My local endocrinologist was far from a Cushing’s expert. After watching the Cushing’s episode of Mystery Diagnosis, I told the same endocrinologist who had misdiagnosed me for years that I had found my answer. He swore that there was “literally no possible way that I had Cushing’s Disease!” He stated that my “hump wasn’t big enough”, “my stretch marks were not purple enough” and that “Cushing’s patients do not have children!” I told him that I was NOT leaving his office until he started testing me. He finally caved in. To his surprise, I was getting abnormal labs back.

At that time, there was evidence of a pit tumor but it wasn’t showing up on an MRI. So, I had my IPSS scheduled. An IPSS stands for Inferior Petrosal Sinus Sampling. It is done because 60 % of Cushing’s based pituitary tumors are so small that they do not show up on an MRI. Non Cushing’s experts do not know this so they often blow patients off, even after the labs show a high level of ACTH in the brain through blood work. An overproduction of the hormone ACTH from the pituitary communicates to the adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol. Well, the IPSS procedure is where they put catheters up through your groin through your body up into your head to draw samples to basically see which side of your pituitary the extra hormone is coming from, thus indicating where the tumor is. U of C is the only place in IL that does it.

So, back to the MAGIC convention; my husband and I went to this conference looking for answers. We were so confused and scared!  Everyone, and I mean everyone, welcomed us with opened arms like we were family! There were brilliant presenters there, including an endocrinologist named Dr. William Ludlam. At that time, he was the director at the Seattle Pituitary Center in Seattle, WA. He is a true Cushing’s expert. Since then, he left in January, 2012 to have a significant impact toward the contribution of research of those impacted by Cushing’s Syndrome. His position was taken over by another brilliant endocrinologist, Dr. Frances Broyles.

I was scheduled to get an IPSS at U of C on June 28th, 2011 to locate the tumor. Two days after the IPSS, I began having spontaneous blackouts and ended up in the hospital for 6 days. The docs out here had no clue what was happening and I was having between 4-7 blackouts a day! My life was in danger and they were not helping me! We don’t know why, but the IPSS triggered something! But, no one wanted to be accountable so they told me the passing out, which I was not doing before, was all in my head being triggered by psychological issues. They did run many tests. But, they were all the wrong tests. I say all the time; it’s like going into Subway and ordering a turkey sandwich and giving them money and getting a tuna sandwich. You would be mad! What if they told you, “We gave you a sandwich!” Even if they were to give you a dozen sandwiches; if it wasn’t turkey, it wouldn’t be the right one. This is how I feel about these tests that they ran and said were all “normal”. The doctors kept telling us that they ran all of these tests so they could cover themselves. Yet, they were not looking at the right things, even though, I (the patient) kept telling them that this was an endocrine issue and had something to do with my tumor! Well, guess how good God is?!!!!

You see, Dr. Ludlam had given me his business card at the conference, which took place two weeks prior to the IPSS. I put it away for a while. But, something kept telling me to pull the card out and contact him. I am crying just thinking about it, Lord!

So, prior to my IPSS, I wrote Dr. Ludlam an e mail asking him some questions. At that time, he told me to send him ALL of my records including labs. I sent him 80 pages of records that day.  He called me back stating that he concurred with all of the evidence that I definitely have Cushing’s Disease from a pituitary source. He asked me what I planned to do and I told him that I was having the IPSS procedure done in a few days at the University of Chicago. He told me once I got my results to contact him.

Fast forward, I ended up in the hospital with these blackouts after my IPSS. The doctors, including MY local endocrinologist told me there was no medical evidence for my blackouts. In fact, he told the entire treatment team that he even doubted if I even had a tumor! However, this is the same man who referred me for the IPSS in the first place! I was literally dying and no one was helping me! We reached out to Dr. Ludlam in Seattle and told him of the situation. He told me he knew exactly what was going on. For some reason, there was a change in my brain tumor activity that happened after my IPSS. No one, to this day, has been able to answer the question as to whether the IPSS caused the change in tumor activity. The tumor, for some reason, began shutting itself on and off. When it would shut off, my cortisol would drop and would put me in a state of adrenal insufficiency, causing these blackouts!

Dr. Ludlam said as soon as we were discharged, we needed to fly out to Seattle so that he could help me! The hospital discharged me in worse condition then when I came in. I had a blackout an hour after discharge! But get this…The DAY the hospital sent me home saying that I did not have a pit tumor, my IPSS results were waiting for me! EVIDENCE OF TUMOR ON THE LEFT SIDE OF MY PITUITARY GLAND!!!

Two days later, Craig and I were on a plane to Seattle. I had never in my life been to Seattle, nor did I ever think I would go. We saw the man that God used to save my life, Dr. William Ludlam, the same man who we had met at the MAGIC conference for the first time one month prior! He put me on a combo of medications that would pull me out of crisis. Within one month, my blackouts had almost completely stopped! Unfortunately, we knew this was a temporary fix! He was treating me to carry me over to surgery. You see, his neurosurgeon, Dr. Marc Mayberg was just as amazing. He is one of the top neurosurgeons in the US! Statistically, he has one of the highest success rates!

The problem was that our insurance refused to pay for surgery with an expert outside of IL, stating that I could have surgery anywhere in IL! Most people don’t know that pituitary surgeries are very complicated and need the expertise of a “high volume center” which is where they do at least 50 of these surgeries per year. Dr. Mayberg has performed over 5,000 of these surgeries!  By this time, we had learned that we need to fight for the best care! It was what would give me the best chance at life! We thought I would have to wait until January when our insurance would change, to see if I could get the surgery I so desperately needed! I was holding on by a thread!

We began appealing our insurance. At the time the MAGIC foundation had an insurance specialist who was allowed to help us fight our insurance. Her name is Melissa Callahan and she took it upon herself to fight for us as our patient advocate. It was a long and hard battle! But…we finally WON!!!! On November 16th, 2011, Dr. Marc Mayberg found that hidden tumor on the left side of my pituitary gland! He removed the tumor along with 50% of my pituitary gland.

Recovery was a difficult process. They say that it takes about one full year to recover after pituitary surgery for Cushing’s. I was grateful to be in remission, nonetheless. However, about one year after my brain surgery, the Cushing’s symptoms returned. After seven more months of testing that confirmed a recurrence of the Cushing’s, I was cleared for a more aggressive surgery. This time, I had both of my adrenal glands removed as a last resort. By then, we had learned that I had hyperplasia, which is an explosion of tumor cells in my pituitary. It only takes one active cell to cause Cushing’s. Therefore, I could have potentially had several more brain surgeries and the disease would have kept coming back over and over.

As a last resort, my adrenal glands were removed so that no matter how much these cells try to cause my adrenals to produce excessive amounts of cortisol; the glands are not there to receive the message. As a result, I am Adrenally Insufficient for life, which means that my body cannot produce the life sustaining hormone, cortisol, at all. I had my Bilateral Adrenalectomy by world renowned BLA surgeon, Dr. Manfred Chiang, in Wisconsin on August 21st, 2013. I traded Cushing’s Disease for Addison’s Disease, one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my life. However, I knew that I would die with Cushing’s. Recovery from my last surgery was difficult and involved weaning down to a maintenance dose of steroid to replace my cortisol. Now, on a maintenance dose; I still have to take extra cortisol during times of physical or emotional stress to prevent my body from going into shock.

I promised a long time ago that I would pay it forward…give back because so much has been given to me. This is why I have committed my life to supporting the Cushing’s community. I post videos on YouTube as a way of increasing awareness. My channel can be found at http://www.YouTube.com/drnkarenthames

Additionally, I am working on a Cushing’s documentary. Please like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Hug.A.Cushie

Thank you for taking the time to read my story!

Karen has made 2 videos about her experiences with Cushing’s:

 

and

Doc Karen will be our guest in an interview on BlogTalk Radio  Friday December 2 at 11:00 AM eastern.  The Call-In number for questions or comments is (323) 642-1665 .

The archived interview will be available through iTunes Podcasts (Cushie Chats) or BlogTalkRadio.  While you’re waiting, there are currently 90 other past interviews to listen to!

Melissa, Pituitary Bio

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golden-oldie

 

From August 12, 2007

I am 32 yrs old. I started having sxs after my 3rd daughter. I started to have face numbness and weight gain after my hysterectomy in 2004. I have had depression since the birth of my daughter in 2003. I had face swelling on and off.

I had started a diet (Chicken, fish, turkey burger, veggies and rice) February 2007. High in protein and low in sodium. I had gained about 30-40 pds since my daughter but then again it was 3rd child. I had lost 24 pds, but was not loosing in my face, upper body and still looked 4 months pregnant after loosing weight. Within weeks I had hypertension, hair all over my face, swelling redness of face, headaches, etc. Ended up in the ER still with no diagnosis and everything related to stress.

I work at a OB/GYN as a medical assistant so I knew something was wrong. One of the doctors I work with kept saying I had Cushing’s Disease but I kept putting her off. I had read about it in school but wasn’t hearing it. I finally did a 24hr urine and to my surprise it was over 1100.

My life had changed since I was dx with this. I did the 5 day suppression twice, (lab messed up the first one). Did 2 MRI’s.

Finally in July 2007 they finally found it!!! I had surgery done July 18th. Still currently on medical leave. Surgery went so well no bruising on my “moon face”. Levels did not drop as expected next morning but ok. 2 days postoperative they did drop in 1/2. Yah!! I’m cured. Have felt pretty good, just tired. Two weeks did 24hr urine, blood work cortisol, and ACTH. Still producing all three. Repeated 1 week later less dexamethasone even. Guess what still producing all 3 but now increasing.

Doctor’s suggest I go off of the steroids now (no point of being on them) and we are going to do more testing. Possible ectopic has been suggested. The surgeon does not want to do radiation or removal due to my age.

I am ready to get on with my life now, and I am confused. I would love to hear from someone with any advise or just to have someone talk to who is going through this.

 

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