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Mak M, Pituitary Bio

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My name is Makena, I’m a 20 year old in California recently diagnosed with Cushings.

I have been having a really rough couple years with a multitude of symptoms. I have been suffering from severe depression since I was around 14, and have been prescribed an endless amount of antidepressants over the years. None of them have worked for me no matter the dose or brand.

The first symptom to cause me to visit the doctor was an extremely high blood pressure and pulse rate. I could always feel my heart pounding in my ears and felt on edge 24/7. My psychiatrist first told me it was anxiety and put me on anti-anxiety medication. That did not help, which led me to see my primary Dr. since my resting heart rate was around 150bpm. I have been put on blood pressure medication which has helped regulate me but I still feel very on edge.

My blood tests show very low vitamin D, very high testosterone, and very high cortisol. My Dr ordered an MRI on my brain and a CT of abdomen. The CT came back normal, but a 6mm microadenoma was found on my pituitary gland so I was referred to an endocrinologist. After doing a 24hr urine test and a saliva test, the results for that came back normal.

My main concern being: I can only physically feel my cortisol levels rise at night. I’ve had severe insomnia and daytime fatigue but the jittery and anxious feeling comes at night and then I crash during the day. I have had severe weight gain in my stomach and face as well as purple stretch marks all over. Losing hair, light sensitivity, vision loss, muscle and bone weakness, easily bruising, a stomach ulcer, a buffalo hump, and constant fatigue have ruined my life. I feel like my body is deteriorating and am not the same person I once was.

I’m hoping I will be able to get surgery to remove the tumor but am concerned that I won’t be approved for it because some tests came back normal. I am not sure what my next step will be but am happy to find stories I can relate to here on this website.

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Jody (jodiann), Adrenal Bio

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Originally posted January 6, 2008

My mother had Cushing’s Syndrome with pheochromocytomas and had a bilateral adrenalectomy in 1968, but developed pneumonia post surgery and died after 3 months in intensive care.

I have thought that I was starting to develop symptoms and was even see in her endo Dr. for years, but I was always told I was being paranoid. Then in the past ten years I have gotten diabetes, the buffalo hump, put on 100 pounds, sore joints, hypertension, low potassium, high cholesterol etc.

I finally got a CT scan due to shortness of breath, and asthma, and they found bilateral multinodular adrenal hyperplasia.

If it’s not Cushing’s Syndrome, then is there something else adrenal wise it could be? It sure seems like Cushing’s to me.

Update December 30, 2007

I was diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome approx. 3 years ago, after gaining over 100#s, developing diabetes, high blood pressure, fatigue,muscle weakness, moon face,buffalo hump,many tests later,it was discovered that I had bliateral multinodular adrenal hyperplasia,and got the diagnoses finally,,,

my mom died from complications from a bilateral adrenalectomy in 1978,she had Cushing’s syndrome with pheochromocytomas,,so I watched her symptoms develope, and had felt sure that I was getting the same things, and finally it was confirmed,just a little difference in the diagnosis,,

however,I am having a terrible time getting any understandin, sympathy, or belief, from my oldest daughter and her husband. They believe,and tell me often, that all I need to do is diet,and exercise,and I would lose this weight,and look like I used to,,it is so depressing,frustrating,and hurtful,,,

the depression you get with the disease just adds to make me feel worse,,I’m taking an antodepressant, but they brought this up again at Christmas,due to me not wanting them to invite people that I hadn’t seen since before the big wt. gain,and appearance changes,,,I ended up crying most of the afternoon,,and it makes me feel like such a baby,,,,

I’m usually pretty good about not needing any body but myself for support,,but this just really has hurt me. I’m thinking of sending them pictures of patients with the disease that I’ve gotten on the internet,,although the son in law said he had done his own research and found that diet and exercise apparently was all that we needed to do,,,don’t know where he found that info from though,,,

Update January 6, 2008

CUSHING’S SYNDROME

I was finally diagnosed in approx. 2004,after I had developed diabetes,htn.,shortness of breath, IBS, high cholestero,major muscle aches,moon face, buffalo hump,and my hands and feet had actually gone up one ring,and shoe size and also had on-going depression, mood swings, anger issues,I could watch myself gain weight.

I joined curves,went every night after work, and still gained weight,,even after exercise for those three months I never did seem to regain any muscle strength or ability,,I still had trouble getting up from chairs,or walking any distance, unless I was pushing a grocery cart, or a stroller,,,I had trouble even carrying my groceries in from the car,i would be so out of breath,,I had to get a disabled parking sticker so I could get into work,,,as I was so out of breath if I parked in the lot across the street it would take me three stops for breath each day to make it in,,,and tired, I was so tired,,my favorite past time was sleeping,,I could sleep any time, and still be tired.

My mom had died from complications from a bilateral adrenalectomy due to Cushing’s Syndrome in 1978, and I had watched all of the changes she and her body had gone through,and felt sure that I had developed the same things, but I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me,,,until a unrelated chain of events lead to me getting a U/S of my chest, and a sugested follow up,which I got on a larger scale which showed something wrong with my adrenal glands, then an MRI of them revealed bilateral multinodular adrenal hyperplasia,,,and finally I got hooked up with a good endocrinologist,,am now getting better follow-up of my diabetes and am on ketaconazole to suppress the cortisol production,,which has helped somewhat,and is stopping the excess cortisol,and no more weight gain,,,but hasn’t gotten rid of any of the symptoms either.

There are a lot of times that I look in the mirror and wonder where I am, or where the real me went to,,I don’t look like the me that I used to be at all,I have gained over 100lbs.in the past 13 years,,,and the fight against the depression, the muscle aches and pain, and fatigue every day or so exhausting,,my Doctor doesn’t want me to get the adrenalectomy due to the loss of all steroids,and how difficult it is to regulate them after the surgery. He also told me that you lose you fight or flight response because you don’t have any natural adrenaline,so your reaction time is not very good,,,,,and I have three grandkids that I drive iwth and take places,and I am a nurse and have to be able to react fast,,,,I also feel that he doesn’t think that I am a good candidate for surgery.

So there it is,,and here am I,,,trying to deal with everyday life, and the lack of any understading or sympathy from some of my family,as they feel that I have gained this weight on my own, and if I just ” took better care of myself,and got some exercise” I would feel and look better,,,,,,,as if any one would do this to themselves,,,,,,:>( ,,,,,,,,,,oh well,you guys understand at least,,,,,,thanks for listening

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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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Matthew C, Pituitary Bio

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pituitary-location
Hello,
I am retired from the United States Army and currently work as a dispatcher for the Blue Springs School District. A few years ago I started to have extreme anxiety. Of course, I went to a psychiatrist and was prescribed an anti-depressants. After a few months the anxiety would resolve. Unfortunately, over the years it would come and go and last for many months each time.

During the summer of 2015, the anxiety returned with a vengeance. I went to a new psychiatrist and was again prescribed an anti-depressant. However, this time it did not work. So, we went through a number of them without success. I researched to see what physical manifestation may be making me feel the gut wrenching anxiety and insomnia. I discovered the wonderful hormone called – YES YOU GUESSED IT – cortisol.

I then learned that cortisol came from the small, but powerful adrenal glands. That lead me to Cushing’s Syndrome/Disease. However, every site that I went to said that Cushing’s was very rear and effected women more than men. After, many more months of suffering and failing at the anti-depressant experiment, I went to my primary doctor and requested a blood test to determine my cortisol levels. The test indicated I did have high morning plasma cortisol.

My doctor referred me to an endocrinologist. I made a crucial mistake when I went to see him. He asked me my history and I told him about the severe anxiety. That planted a seed in his brain that I was just suffering from a psychiatric disorder. Nevertheless, he did order the test (Plasma cortisol, saliva cortisol and 24-hour urine free cortisol). All the test came back with higher than normal cortisol, but he kept saying that I was having “false positives.”

This went on for a number of months and then he basically fired me as a patient. So, I go back to my primary doctor and he refers me to my second endocrinologist. Guess what the story turned out to go the same way. I was fired again as a patient.

Before I go on let me add a little to the story: I do not have any of the physical signs of high cortisol. Basically, I suffer from anxiety, insomnia, brain fog, cognitive impairment and constipation. So, in their defense I don’t look the part of a person suffering from Cushing’s.

My next attempt was with the Veterans Administration. My endocrinologist there did the same test and was convinced something was wrong. She ordered a Inferior Petrosal Sinus Sampling. Finally, a test that did confirm that I had Cushing’s Disease.

The surgery to remove the tumor was accomplished on 9 August, 2016. However, the surgery failed. The worst part is that my current endocrinologist feels that my test results are “false positives.” I must say the entire process has been frustrating at best.

I do have a radical plan in place with a endocrinologist overseas who has agreed to do the surgery that will cure my Cushing’s Disease once and for all. I call this the final solution. Yes, this is extreme but my symptoms are getting worse and I don’t feel like playing the game anymore.

In addition, my symptoms are getting worse as my blood pressure is getting higher and higher.

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Kali, Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed3

 

Hi Everyone,

My name is Kali, I’m 20 years old and I’ve been on this journey for a year and a half now. Before this all started I was petite 5’3″ and 123lbs at my heaviest, I was incredibly active, I played multiple sports including soccer, ringette and swimming and I worked out 4-6 times a week. I stumbled across this wonderful website last night after becoming so frustrated with the way I have been treated and bounced around from doctor to doctor. Honestly reading some of your stories is like reading my own. I’m hoping someone will be able to reach out and send some advice my way.

This all started last year when I noticed all of a sudden my regular work out routine had become extremely difficult my legs fatigued quickly and my heart started racing just walking. I went to my GP who said I was having panic attacks while walking around. I of course said this wasn’t possible and left discouraged. 3 days later I ended up in the ER due to a racing heart rate at over 180bpm while lying down.

Now fast forward 6 months, 7 rounds of blood work and 5 appointments with 2 cardiologists and everything came back normal. I was fed up. I now couldn’t even walk up a set of stairs without becoming fatigued and working out was no longer in the picture at all. I even found getting out of bed in the morning difficult. The doctors all said it was in my head, it was anxiety, I needed to push through and everything would get better. Funny thing was I used exercise to deal with my anxiety for many years and I knew this wasn’t anxiety.

I honestly ended up no where and sort of gave up. Some doctors thought it was hyperthyroidism, 1 thought Wolff-Parkinsons White but everything came back normal and they all settled on a diagnoses of anxiety and I was prescribed multiple different anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications which my stubborn self refused to take. I accepted that I couldn’t work out or run or be who I used to be and I focused on school and tried yoga, light jogging and small sessions of weight lifting instead of intense gym work outs.

Now we fast forward another 2 months or so. I started craving sugary foods, I had never had a sweet tooth before I never even used to like chocolate and all of a sudden it was all I wanted. I developed a lot of back pain between my shoulder blades and I just assumed this was all because of upcoming exams, bad posture and just life. I really shouldn’t have.

4 more months go by and I went home after school finished. My mom immediately said I had gained weight. I mean I had noticed some of my clothes were tighter but I figure I just accidentally put them in the dryer. 2 weeks later. Nothing fit. I had outgrown all of my clothes in just over a month. When I stepped on the scale I thought it was broken. I had gained over 30 pounds in less than a month. 123 – 156lbs. My face was puffy and red with acne, I had a huge hump between my shoulders. My breasts doubled in size, my stomach was huge but my arms and legs were normal. I immediately went to a new doctor recommended by a friend and she agreed something wasn’t right and sent me straight out for some bloodwork. But of course…. everything came back normal. I even did a dexamethasone suppression test which too came back normal.

I have all the trademark signs of cushings syndrome. Round red face, buffalo hump, bruising easily, unexplained weight gain primarily in the face and abdomen, purple stretch marks on breasts and thighs, muscle weakness, tired all the time, heart palpitations, increased thirst and sweating. But I cannot get a positive diagnoses to save my life. I don’t know what to do. Not 1 doctor has been able to make 2 + 2 = 4 and I’m so upset. I hate looking in the mirror, I hate waking up with 0 energy and no clothes to wear everyday. I’ve seen 3 doctors, 2 cardiologists a nurse practitioner, an endocrinologist who didn’t even give me the time of day with my normal results and I’m scheduled to see an Internist in about a week. Should I just ask him to send me for an MRI? I feel like that is my only option left.

If anyone has any suggestions of what direction I should pursue that would be much appreciated. It’s hard to fight for yourself when you’re the only one on your side.

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Heather (HeatherKY), Pituitary Bio

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golden-oldie

 

From Monday, February 2, 2009

Greetings! This is Heather from KY. I finally am sitting down to type out my bio to try to help others should they recognize their own symptoms in my story.

I am 33 years old and I was never someone who was overly sick. I had my occasional bouts with the flu and at least one sinus infection a year, but overall was extremely healthy. I am a former semi-professional dancer and maintained a weight of around 120 lbs. I was blessed with super metabolism and never had to diet, but all that changed around 2002.

In 2002, I developed a case of Bell’s Palsy. It came on over the course of about 5 days affecting the right side of my face. My PCP placed me on a 70 mg daily dose of prednisone to be tapered after 1 week. I felt the effects of the steroid immediately, both good and bad. I was wired every night, up at 2 to 3 o’clock for hours. And the intense hunger about drove me over the edge. Additionally, I experienced a weakness in my jaws and neck that was quite disturbing. Eventually though, after tapering off the prednisone, those symptoms went away and I began to lose weight. I joined Weight Watchers and lost around 23 pounds, even becoming a lifetime member.

Life went along well for a while, I’d lost weight, had a good job and a great boyfriend. But then things started to change. I underwent a personality change that caused me to be moody and upset and pick fights with my boyfriend for no reason. My arms started going numb and I developed a fierce neck and shoulder pain. Even though I was still following my WW eating habits and going to the gym, the weight started to creep back on.

Along about this point in time the panic attacks began. I would go to bed, sleep for 2 or three hours and then suddenly wake up with a racing heart and feeling like I might die if I didn’t release some pent up energy. I literally would jump out of the bed with this horrific feeling that could best be described as “impending doom”. It was such a miserable feeling that I made an appointment with my PCP who thought it odd that I would have panic attacks in the middle of the night, so he began treating me for asthma.

I began to withdraw socially. I didn’t want to be around other people when I was feeling so poorly. My boyfriend decided to move on to a more sociable person, and I slipped into a deep depression. I felt like I was losing my mind and completely losing control. I finally began to consider that I was truly mentally ill. I researched mental illness and found that I had characteristics, but nothing truly fit the bill. I identified with some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder as I experienced wild swings in mood. But I also realized that my problems were not just psychological. I started to gain even more weight. Working out became extremely uncomfortable because of the crushing fatigue and feeling of not being able to breathe.

Trips to my primary care doc were not giving me the answers I needed. No one was looking at the aggregate of my symptoms, only the individual instances. I emerged from each visit a little more depressed than when I went in. I was given anti-depressants and a variety of herbs and natural combinations to try. Literally nothing helped. A small dose of thyroid alleviated a portion of the fatigue, but I still felt I was not getting to where I needed to be.

Oddly, the thought that kept popping into my head during this time was that I felt as if I was on steroids again. But that did not make sense as I had not taken a dose of steroid in several years.

Ultimately, my grandmother gave me an article about a woman whose story was eerily similar to mine. She was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease. I’ve been involved with companion animals and animal rescues for a number of years and was familiar with Cushing’s in dogs…but had no earthly idea that a human could get it! I remember having such a strange mixture of emotions. On the one hand, I was scared for what may lie ahead, but at the same time I was excited and hopeful to be able to put a name to what had caused me to lose so much of the life I knew. An appointment with my primary care doc and superstar nurse practitioner brought excited concurrence from both.

I was referred to an endocrinologist who then literally laughed in my face when I mentioned Cushing’s. He then proceeded to tell me I was taking too much thyroid hormone and lowered my dosage. Yikes!! Never one to blindly accept the established order, I decided to do my very own research and seek a second opinion. And then a third opinion. All were in agreement on one point: I look “cushingoid”. But some of my tests came back with normal and even low(!) results. Hence I was sent on my way with the proverbial pat-on-the-head…and a recommendation for Weight Watchers.

Fast forward several frustrating months, and I entered into an intensive testing phase for a version of Cushing’s called “cyclical” or “episodic” Cushing’s after seeking the help of an expert in the disease. With cyclical Cushing’s, your cortisol levels fluctuate from high to low and then back to high, producing erratic results and further complicating an already complex disease.

My list of symptoms is fairly typical of Cushing’s:
• A 90 lb weight gain, concentrated around my stomach, that does not respond to diet and exercise
• A round, red face (moon face, facial plethora)
• Acne, much of it on not just my face, but also my neck, shoulders and chest
• Muscle weakness, making it difficult to squat or climb stairs
• Cuts and insect bites are slower to heal and my skin easily bruises
• Severe hair loss

In December 2008, after many years of feeling hopeless and alone, I was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease caused by a pituitary tumor. Transphenoidal pituitary surgery has been scheduled for February 2009.

If you are just starting your journey, please listen to what your body is telling you. If you are unsatisfied with the answers you are receiving from your doctors, take matters into your own hands. Research and learn as much as possible and do not be afraid to fire a doctor that is not helping. And, most importantly, never give up hope. I’m so glad I didn’t.

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Mary H (Marietta), Adrenal Bio

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In 1976, I was (finally) diagnosed with Cushing’s disease and after the up the nose surgery, which was ineffective, I had bilateral adrenalectomy.

It all started in late 1974, when I started having lots of illnesses and was depressed.  I was crying a lot and going back and forth to my doctor, who treated every illness and gave me anti-depressants.

Then the weight gain started, ( I was 185 at my highest, which was usually 115-120) actually I had been gaining weight, but by now it was rapid and uneven– only my trunk and face.

All through late ’74 and 1975, I was back and forth, even with a dx of pregnant,  (which made evryone happy, as I was married Feb 1974.  But the mental problems continued, I was under psychiatric care and had 2-3 in-patinet stays of about 2 weeks.  Each time, after the observation and evaluation, I was discharged with no dx. I would also fall asleep at the strangest places and times, all very suddenly.
In March of of 1976, I  had what was then called a “nervous breakdown,” so again I was hospitalized.  THAT probably saved my life, as it was my psychiatrist who finally dx Cushing’s and decided on treatment. He later told me that I had him very confused, as each time he thought he had the DSM dx (he knew I was in the mh field), I would change and thus, he could not fit me in any DSM DX.   Then, because of my appearence (moon face, foot-ball player shape, with skinny limbs, losing my hair and all the secondary dx (high blood pressure, insulin diabetes that could not be controlled– up, down, up down, losing hair, on my head but growing on my face and back), he said he remembered something from medical school.

He did a lot of research, ordered a lot of tests and VOILA– I had Cuhing’s disease.  It was very rare and at that time, he said there were no more 300-400 (known) cases in medical history; also, I was the youngest dx at 26, because most cases were in those age at least 50.

I had the nose surgery, very new at the time,  but it didn’t “work,” so I had to have my adrenal grand removed– they were 5x the normal size and producing 25x the normal amount of steroids. I had the surgery in Novemver 1976, which took from 7 am to 5 pm (I have the 2 long scars on my back).  I did not know at the time that there was an 85% chance of surviving that surgery.

Post surgery, all but 3 of my fingernails fell off, my hair was in tight curls (previoulsy straight) and I had cystic acne on my face, neck and back. I started taking cortisone and florinef and was told I had to take  it the rest of my like.  I was under close dr care for about a year, and by April 1977, the weight was gone (I was back to 115) and all secondary symptoms were gone.  I believe that the surgery was a real “cure” for my Cushing’s disease and after, it was/is maybe somewhat like diabetes, in that it is managed and controlled.  There are some things that I have to watch carefully, like a comprommised immune system (increase the prednisone if infection seems likely) and some depression (never hospitalized again).  I have had some adrenal crises, that landed me in the ER, maybe 5-6 over the years (how strange, no doctor ever told me or gave me a prescription for an injection for such occurences).
In 1990-1991, I had what ended up being appendicitis.  After 4x in the ER, I vomited blood and collapsed.  It turned out to be a (dead) grangrenous appendix, which should have been removed the first t ime.  Supposedly, the prednisone that I take “masked” the symptoms and since my blood showed no infection, I was sent home from the ER each time.  I spent 2 weeks in the hospital with 3 strong intravenous antibiotics to remove all the toxins in my body that almost killed me.

In 2000, I was dx with diabetes, which runs in my family, and at  64 years  old, the problems I have now are severe allergies/sinus problems (no one believes that I am sick when this makes me sick) and I seem to always be hotter or much colder than anybody (which the doctor warned me about right after the major surgery).

Also, I started out with cortisone; in 1990, a new doctor in NYC gave me hydrocortisone and I gained 10-20 lbs.  Another doctor quickly put me back on cortisone and said that the hydrocortisone was only for injections when I have adrenal crisis– it is quick actiing.  The cortisone was 25 mg daily and around 1993-94, I started gaining weight.  A new docotr in Chicago, switched it to prednisone 5mg., the equivalent of the 25 mg cortisone.  He said the prednisone did not cause weight gain– he was right.  I also take Florinef, now Fludrocortisone (the generic, Florinef is VERY expensive, as is the generic, but less).  I started out with this at .1 mg  once every other day and sometime in the 90s, the same dr who put me on prednisone, changed the Fl to one x daily.

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