Home

Amanda, Undiagnosed Bio

Leave a comment

golden-oldie

 

I have been battling sickness for about a year and half now. It started with my gaining weight pretty rapidly (about 20 lbs. in a month-month and a half). I’ve never been super strict about my eating or exercising but I don’t eat a lot of junk food – don’t buy any chips, soda, cookies, etc.) I also do remain pretty active in the work that I do as an elementary teacher. I’ve never had a problem with my weight before and this particular summer I was teaching 3 sections of dance so I was getting plenty of exercise.  I told my family practioner about the weight gain and he told me that metabolism slows down as you age. Ok. I was 26 when he said this and my metabolism must have went down to 0 for me to gaine so fast! I decided to just be more concious of what I ate and did.

As the months went by, I went on a business trip to Boston. During this trip I was inrcedibly fatigued and felt awful. I thought perhaps I was coming down with something and was put on antibiotics that did nothing to help. In August of 2010 I began to have debilitating headaches. I could not get the headache to go away with any over the counter pain reliever and ended up going to a doctor who diagnosed me with migraines. I tried a few migraine medicines with no luck and had a CT scan that showed nothing abnormal. I was then referred to a neurologist.

I mentioned the weight gain to the neuroogist who thought it was odd that I would gain weight so rapidly, but he pretty much dismissed it as a symptom and said I was getting headaches from overuse of medication. I knew that could not be right, but thought I’d try just taking nothing for a while to see if it helped. It did not. The same neurologist then recommended physical therapy, which helped ease the pain but did not take away the headaches. His final thought was that I was depressed and put me on depression medication.

During this time I was working as a teacher and missing work quite often. I felt awful every day. I continued to gain weight, feel fatigued and weak, have mood swings and began developing stretch marks and acne. I always had wonderful skin and it seemed no matter what cleanser I used, I couldn’t control the breakouts.

I saw another neurologist that was recommended by a parent at my school. She scheduled me for an MRI and a lumbar puncture. My pressure came back a little high during the lumbar puncture and the MRI was fine so she diagnosed me with Pseudo Tumer Cerebri. I took medication for this condition, but ended up with no relief.

I ended up spending a week in the hospital because I couldn’t stand the pain in my head and I was so emotional over the whole experience of not having any answers. They pumped me full of pain medication and migraine drugs. At the end of the week when I still had no answers, I ended up going to see a neurologist that was a headache specialist.

The headache specialist diagnosed me with meningitis. No tests but I got a diagnosis based on my story. She put me on steriods. I began to feel better for a few days. I returned to work and thought I had finally found my answer. Then everything came to a screeching halt and I began to feel awful again. The headache specialist was still convinced it was meningitis and said I was just more susceptible to migraines from the meningitis. I again went through a whole gamot of migraine medications to no avail.

I ended up leaving my job and moving close to my family so I could have support and people to help care for me. I returned to my family doctor who decided to do some blood tests. After running the blood tests, my doctor said that my cortisol level was high and I might have cushings which would explain all my symptoms. I had never heard of Cushings so I began researching it. Once I read the symptoms and others’ stories of how they felt and what they went through I was so sure that here FINALLY was my answer. The doctor did a low dose dexamethasone test which came back with normal levels and it was decided I did not have Cushings.

I was devestated. Not that I wanted to have this illness, I just wanted an answer and thought for sure this was it! I even asked my doctor to retest me which she would not do.

I went to see another doctor. I began going through migraine medications again, acupunture, chiropractor, etc. to find some relief. I finally brought the idea of Cushings to this doctor. She ran some blood tests again. Everything came back with normal levels except my potassium was low. Even though my blood didn’t show it, I’m still convinced I have Cushings and my doctor agreed to send me to an endocrinologist.

I have an appointment on Monday with Dr. Findling in Menomenee Falls. I found him on this site as one of the ‘helpful doctors’. I’m hoping that he can finally diagnose me and I can get on the road to recovery.

I miss my life. I’ve lost friends due to this illness. My marriage is suffering. I cannot work. I basically have no life at all because I rarely feel well enough to do anything and no one understands. Not to mention the psychological toll being sick with no answers has on a person as well as watching my body change so much and not being able to do anything to control it! I want an answer and I want to finally know what I can do to help myself get better.

HOME | Contents | Adrenal Crisis! | Abbreviations | Glossary | Forums | Donate | Bios | Add Your Bio

Melissa F, Pituitary Bio

Leave a comment

golden-oldie

Melissa F was interviewed on BlogTalk Radio November 3, 2010. She has had pituitary surgery. Archives are available on BlogTalk Radio and on iTunes podcasts.

From the Clutches of Cushing’s

A journey through Hell… with a happy ending
by Melissa Fine

The most insidious aspect of Cushing’s Disease is, while it is attacking you physically, it is destroying your self-esteem, your peace of mind, your very spirit. That more doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, drug, alcohol and weight-loss counselors (and the list goes on) don’t know how to recognize something that, in retrospect, seems so blatantly obvious is appalling—and not only tragic, it is, in my opinion, criminal. I often wonder how many Cushing’s victims we lose to suicide because they were not able to get a diagnosis before they lost the will to live… simply because no one thought to look for the definitive answer in their blood, urine or saliva. I am certain that Cushing’s isn’t nearly as rare as the doctors believe it is. What is rare is their ability to recognize it.

This is my story…

First, you need to know that I was always a pretty happy girl (though PMS- related mood swings have always plagued me). I come from a very close family, always had a lot of support, had a group of true friends I could count on, and was always very driven to accomplish my goals. I moved to Las Vegas from Southern California in 1994, right after graduating from UCLA, to move in with the guy who would become my 1st husband (Rat Bastard!). My goal in life was to be a writer, and within a month, I landed a job with a magazine publishing company and was getting paid to do what I love. You should also know I was always way too skinny. No matter what I ate (and I was a picky eater, but what I did like, I ate as much as I wanted of it), I was lucky to keep my weight above 100 pounds. I was happy if I could maintain 105 pounds, so I didn’t look so gaunt…

In 1995, I started noticing something wasn’t right with me. I had every reason to be thrilled with my life, but I was constantly blue. Down. Not tragically depressed—that would come later—but I just never seemed to feel happy. I also found myself complaining of body aches and fatigue all the time. And I kept noticing big, unexplained bruises on my arms, buttocks, and thighs.

In July 1995, I was covering the opening of a new casino/spa in Mesquite, NV. I came out of some exotic acupressure chakra-cleansing massage with one thought: I WANT BEEF! Now, the mere smell of steak would always nauseate me, but I was starving and steak was the only thing on my mind. I ate a 16 oz. New York Strip plus a ½-pound of crab for dinner. Woke up the next morning STARVING and ordered another steak to go with my eggs, hash browns, toast and pancakes, and devoured it all.

That’s when I knew something was really wrong.

Over the next five or so years, I went to many doctors with seemingly vague, unrelated symptoms. I was always famished, so by this time, I was 145 pounds. The depression was also heavier, but at the same time, I felt a constant sense of anticipatory anxiety, like something was about to happen. In less than 10 minutes, a psychiatrist labeled me with “bi-polar 2” and I was thrown on mega- doses of serious anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. I caught every cold, was always bone-tired, constantly in pain, and was finding it more and more difficult to focus on anything. I went on and off various anti-depressants, none of which seemed to work for any length of time. The consensus among the many medical minds was that I needed to diet and exercise.

2000 brought a lot of change—and not the good kind. I found yet another new “family” doctor. This guy, though, actually tried. He noticed, after running a blood panel and looking at my many bruises, that my red blood cells were “abnormal” looking and that my white blood count was up. Up enough that, just to be safe, he wanted me to see a specialist. He told me not to be worried that “oncology” was on the specialist’s wall… he was just really good with blood.

By late August, I was in the oncologist’s office. After looking at more lab results, he promptly scheduled me for a bone-marrow test—which, in his opinion, was just a formality. He told Rat Bastard and me that I definitely had leukemia. My soon-to-be ex-husband asked him flat out: “Is there any chance that this could be something other than leukemia.” The good doctor said, “No. She has leukemia. We just need to find out which kind.”

Bone marrow tests take six weeks to come back. Six days before (and about two weeks from my 30th birthday) the results that would tell me which kind of leukemia I definitely had came back, Rat Bastard decided he “didn’t feel the same way about me anymore” and walked out.

Imagine my surprise when the good oncologist didn’t find the “Philadelphia” chromosome he was expecting to see. Still, he stuck to his guns and was really, really sure I had leukemia. He then took a job at MD Anderson in Houston, TX, but insisted I see his other good oncologist every six weeks or so to keep looking and monitoring my white blood count and my screwy red blood cells. After many months passed and my condition worsened with no explanation, the second good oncologist told me, “You are a ticking time bomb.”

Not helpful.

So, my wonderful boss (who was also a good friend, and, as it turned out, was the guy I was supposed to marry!), paid to send my mom and me to MD Anderson to speak again with the first good oncologist, who was now heading up a leukemia department of his very own. Time for bone-marrow tap Number Two, because he was positive that pesky Philadelphia chromosome was there somewhere.

It wasn’t.

I was back to square one. Only now body parts were starting to break. I fractured my foot by stepping out of bed the wrong way. I tore my meniscus— an injury I was told is usually found in professional tennis players—by doing a single jumping jack in a futile attempt to exercise. A new specialist ran a bone density test that showed I had osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis. Another specialist discovered I had insignificant, benign tumors on my adrenal glands—something, he told me, I had in common with approximately 25% of the population. But those revelations were the least of my concerns. The depression turned into an all-consuming black hole. For the next three years, not one day went by that I didn’t sob uncontrollably. I couldn’t do my work, because I couldn’t concentrate long enough to edit a simple story. I couldn’t read a book or even sit through a half-hour sit-com. I no longer recognized myself in the mirror. Even worse, old friends and even my own cousin—people I hadn’t seen in a few years—didn’t recognize me either. They literally walked by me as though I were a stranger. My physical appearance was that dramatically different. I would wake up at 5 a.m., ravenous, and I would FORCE myself to wait until 6 a.m. before I would allow myself about a third of a box of Cheerios with non-fat milk. It was the only time of the entire day that I would actually feel “full.” It only lasted for about two hours, tops… but for that brief window, I found relief from constant hunger pains.

Alone, I no longer knew my own mind. I hid away in my craft room and started endless scrapbooking projects that I never finished. The pretty paper and nifty hole-punches somehow made me smile a little. Like many, I would imagine, I started to self-medicate. Prescribed painkillers.

Thankfully, mercifully, my family bonds were stronger than ever. My parents even moved to Las Vegas to be near me. And that guy, my boss, Glenn… though he met me in my 20s, when I weighed 100 pounds, married me in my 30s, knowing I was truly sick, not knowing what illness I had, and at my heaviest. I was 188 pounds on my wedding day, and he made me feel like a beautiful princess.

At some point around 2003, I had yet another new family doctor. Overall, his diagnostic skills were, at best, questionable. He knew just enough to send me to other specialists. But he was generous with his prescription pad, so I continued to see him. I do, however, owe this particular doctor a huge debt of gratitude. He was the first to mention the word “endocrinologist.” I didn’t know there was such a thing.

Many lab tests later, the endocrinologist told me I had too much of something called “cortisol.” She became annoyed when I asked her what that meant. She faxed her notes back to my family doctor. I noticed she had scrawled the word “Cushing’s” with a question mark after it. I told my doc I didn’t know what

Cushing’s was. His exact words were: “Well, I do know what it is, and you don’t have it.”

The endo disagreed, I guess. She had me scheduled to have my adrenal glands removed. Somehow, 10 days before my surgery, my many questions and stubborn attempts to understand why I was going under the knife really pissed her off. I received a certified letter informing me that, due to my “abusive and indignant attitude,” I was “fired.”

Meanwhile, my mom started Googling. She read the symptoms of Cushing’s Disease as though it were a page from my diary. It was a perfect fit. Except that, according to what she had learned, the lab results weren’t making sense. They were pointing to my pituitary gland, not my adrenals. I cancelled the date with the surgeon and headed back to the family doc’s office. He was quite pleased with himself, claiming he knew it was Cushing’s all along. (He still takes great pride in that epiphany. Why let the facts stand in the way of a good story, right?)

Family doc told me it was great news that my pituitary gland was the culprit: All I would need is a highly focused beam of radiation and some salt pills, and I’d be as good as new. He filled my prescription and sent me to another endocrinologist.

This guy was clever. He actually sent me for an MRI. Unfortunately, the MRI showed nothing. He was, however, in agreement with the previous, previous, previous doctor who told me the adrenal tumors were nothing to worry about. I trusted him, because he dropped the name of a renowned neurosurgeon at USC in Pasadena: Dr. Martin Weiss. I did some research. Dr. Weiss was the real deal—a graduate of Dartmouth and Cornell and a professor of neurological surgery. Finally… an honest-to-goodness expert.

Husband and I packed our bags and were off to Pasadena for a venous sampling. Who knew there was such a test? I found myself in the bizarre position of praying with all my might that I had a brain tumor.

Waiting, waiting, waiting…

Dr. Weiss confirmed that the MRIs did not show the tumor, but he did point to a microscopic something-or-other at the base of my pituitary gland that was tilted ever-so-slightly. He explained that he had, at best, a 50–50 chance of finding the tumor and removing it. He also told me that salt pills weren’t going to do the trick.

In December 2004, Dr. Weiss successfully removed the tumor from my pituitary gland.

This is the part of the story where I’d like to say I dramatically awoke with remarkable bravery and perfect hair to a room filled with calla lilies. Instead, my eyes opened to four or five post-op nurses, I was hooked via a tangle of cords to various machines, my mouth was so dry my tongue was stuck to my palate, and I was frantic to find a toilet. Bedpans just don’t work for me and my bladder was going to explode. After much arguing and cursing, the nurses decided unhooking me was safer than allowing my blood pressure to go any higher. They rolled over a porta-potty, I went forever, and no sooner did they re-hook me than I had to go again.

Learned a new term: diabetes insipidus.

The morning after being released from the hospital (prescription for diabetes insipidus filled and at arm’s length), I remember that, for the first time in nearly a decade, I couldn’t finish my breakfast. I was full.

I’d love to end it with that perfect tagline, but…

Back in Vegas, the brilliant endocrinologist put me on the whopping dose of 20 mgs of hydrocortisone a day. Anxious to “jump start” my adrenals, he quickly lowered the dose to 10 mgs.

After more than a year of seeing a cardiologist for my racing heart; a (mis) diagnosis of panic attacks because it felt like I had an SUV parked on my chest; repeated bouts of nausea and dizzy spells; low blood pressure; increased joint and muscle pain; more depression; and a complete neurological work-up for symptoms too similar to MS for comfort; my incredibly insightful endocrinologist told me to stop coming to his office, go home, and praise God because I was “cured.” In what can only be called a surreal segue, he then added that I should also praise God for my inability to get pregnant, because children are so selfish and self-centered that they only degrade your quality of life. Not surprisingly, he retired from medicine shortly thereafter.

It was at this point that I found the Cushing’s Help and Support boards and verified that I was not, in fact, insane.

One doctor’s name was repeatedly touted: Dr. William Ludlam. He sounded like the savior of all endocrine-challenged souls. I was astounded when he, personally, actually took my call. After listening patiently to my story, he informed me that I was not yet his patient, and therefore, he could not and would not offer me any medical advice or instruction over the telephone. He then told me a story of a hypothetical situation in which certain familiar-sounding symptoms would, to a trained hypothetical specialist, be immediately recognized as the brink of full-blown adrenal failure. I took the hypothetical hint, did some quick online research—and (following only my own hunch, rather than immediately seeing a local doctor as I should have done) took a significantly higher dose of Cortef. Within an hour, I felt human—a feeling I hadn’t known in more than 10 years.

Dr. Ludlam made room in his schedule and, the following week, off we went, at last down the road to recovery.

I celebrated my 40th birthday last month. As 2011 rapidly approaches, I can finally say that my adrenal glands are now functioning on their own. I have not had the need for Cortef in more than a year. I have battled the addiction to pain killers and am emerging as the victor. My size 4 jeans once again fit, and while I still fight depression, it is no longer my primary state of mind. Slowly, I’m regaining energy and enthusiasm. My thoughts are clear, my will is strong, my creativity is restored.

I live.

—–#—–

If you or a loved one is suffering with Cushing’s or Addison’s or you believe you might be, and you need to talk, please feel free to contact me with any questions or simply for an understanding ear. I can be reached at mfine@casinocenter.com (please put “Cushing’s” or “Addison’s” in the subject line) or follow me on Twitter @SinCityTweeter. My thanks and ever-lasting gratitude to MaryO, www.cushings-help.com , and all the fellow Cushies who helped me along the way.

HOME | Contents | Adrenal Crisis! | Abbreviations | Glossary | Forums | Donate | Bios | Add Your Bio

Catie, Possible Steroid-Induced Bio

Leave a comment

A Golden Oldie

Hi.  My name is Catie.  I am 49. I am asthmatic and have COPD.  I am tired of being sick and no one listening to me and knowing that something is wrong.

I have been pretty sick since November 1999.  I am constantly on steroids of one kind or another because of my lungs being pretty bad.  I have to use steroid inhalers daily and I have an updraft machine that I use daily also.  I had a complete hysterectomy in January 2000.  The doctors all told me that was what the problem was.  I was still sick afterwards.  I started having stomach issues in 2001.  I was vomiting all the time.  My primary doctor of 23 years would not listen to me when I would tell him that something was wrong, that the pain in my stomach was horrible, that I was vomiting bile all of the time.  He told me flat out that couldn’t possibly be true because I wasn’t loosing any weight.

I had a heart attack in 2002 and while in the hospital my heart doctor ordered an endoscope done.  I was then told that I had acute gastritis and GERD along with gallstones.  My gallbladder was removed.  I was still sick most of the time and now on even more medicines to calm down the gastritis.  I was becoming so tired and so weak that my heart doctored ordered a sleep study in 2003.  I am now using a CPAP.  It has helped my sleep and the GERD, but I still felt so bad all of the time.

The weight kept piling on, mainly in my stomach, neck, face and shoulders and what is that bulging fat pad between my shoulders?  I just cry when I have to look in a mirror at myself.  I am not a vain person but I used to have such pretty eyes, now my eye lids are red all of the time.  I wear sunglasses whenever I go anywhere and I never wear any low cut blouses because my chest is red all of the time.  I was becoming so depressed about not being able to loose any weight at all no matter what I did and no one really listening to me when I would tell them that something was wrong.  Why was my face so red all of the time?  Why couldn’t I loose any weight, even a pound?  Why am I so tired and weak all of the time?  I have to have my glasses replaced every 6 months because my vision is so distorted.

One doctor gave me antidepressants that almost killed me.  I am so allergic to medicines now that if a doctor gives me a new one I am afraid to take it, especially all of the new and improved medicines.  I basically gave up on going to any doctors because no one would listen to me.  I am constantly getting pneumonia no matter how careful I am and in 2009 things became worse and I found a new doctor.  He ordered a complete blood test and told me that I was diabetic.  I was put on meds to try to control it but nothing worked.

It doesn’t matter if I eat carbs or not, my sugar is uncontrollable, so I was sent to a specialist.  On my first meeting, a month ago, he sat down with my blood test results and told me that I had abnormal liver levels and my AC1 was 14.8.  Yeah, way high, it should be below 5.  Then he said that just by looking at me he was 95% sure that I had Cushings disease and that is probably the reason for all of my sugar problems that are going on.  I was put on insulin immediately and I had to do a 24 hour UT.  I am supposed to go back this week on Thursday 10/21 for the results.

Nothing has been said about the abnormal liver levels that are pretty high, so I don’t know if or when that will be talked about.  Will the UT show what that is all about?  I had never heard of Cushings and started looking it up to see what all it entailed and I found this site.  I have been reading through the posts and it sure sounds like a lot of my complaints.  I know this sounds awful but I really feel like it would be a relief to say, “YES, this is what is wrong with me!”  Does that make sense?  I do not take hormones, there is too much cancer in my family for me to take them.

I have a horrible time with stress issues and I try to avoid any stressful situations but not knowing what is wrong with you is stressful in itself.  I do take 2 high blood pressure meds, blood thinners because I have 3 stents.  I have 2 arteries that are 50% blocked but they won’t do anything until they are 60% or you have another heart attack.  How awful is that?  I was put on a diuretic and potassium and boy they give me leg cramps that are out of this world but it has helped the pitted edema in my legs.  I take 3 stomach meds when I have flare ups but not all of the time.  I do not drink alcohol or smoke.  I can not exercise much because I just don’t have the energy or the air to do much.

I basically am stuck until someone somewhere decides to try to find out what the problem is and doesn’t just pat me on my head and tell me to not worry and here take this pill.  I am so frustrated and tired.  I have a good family support system but even they get tired of hearing that I am not doing well.  I don’t go anywhere or do anything anymore.  I used to do needlepoint, sew time period clothing for rennaissance fairs and oil paint but I can’t see well enough to do it anymore and my hands shake too bad even if I could see to do it.  Boy, talk about a pity party.  Sorry.  I collect Tonner dolls, Barbie, love to read even if I have to use a magnifier over my glasses, take animal pictures, watch movies, cook and I adore cats.

HOME | Contents | Adrenal Crisis! | Abbreviations | Glossary | Forums | Donate | Bios | Add Your Bio

Leah (Lele), Undiagnosed Bio

3 Comments

I am a 34 year old woman, not yet diagnosed, but suspect Cushing’s.

When I came across this website, it was like other people writing my life story.

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 15 years ago, with depression about the same time.  Once on thyroxine, I improved.

About 8 years ago, I started gaining weight, especially around the stomach.  Then as time passed, other symptoms appeared.  The depression was coming back worse than ever, despite increased doses of anti-depressants.  I suffered with extreme fatigue, joint and muscle pain, shortness of breath and rapid heart rate.

I had tests for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Latex sensitivity, ECG and echocardigram, stress echocardiogram, chest X-ray, lots of blood tests.  The only thing abnormal was low iron.  I tried iron supplements, which do not agree with my stomach, so had to abandon.

Since then, I have pretty much struggled with further symptoms, the latest being the red stretch marks, the buffalo hump, fat on my shoulders (makes it hard to carry shoulder bags – they just slip off!), red, hot, puffy face, excess sweating, even in cooler weather, night sweats, pins and needles in arms, cramps in legs, high blood pressure, bruise easily, sores slow to heal – and that’s just the physical symptoms.

I am so depressed and low on self-confidence that hardly go out anymore, don’t have many friends, and had to stop working as nurse, which is the job I love.

I finally got my local doctor to send me to an endocrinologist in March this year.  She did an ultrasound of my thyroid (showed a tiny nodule) and ordered a 1mg dex supression test.  When the dex test came back negative and I went back to see her, I just cried my eyes out.  She referred me to see a psychiatrist, and said she was done with me.   The usual – you can’t have Cushing’s, its too rare.  No urine tests, nothing.

I called the Pituitary Foundation in my state who are really helpful, and gave me loads of information. The lady mentioned cyclical Cushing’s.  But they can’t tell you which doctor who can help you, it is different in Australia because you need to be referred by your local doctor, and they have no idea who can diagnose Cushing’s or what tests to order.  So now I have really lost hope of getting a diagnosis, it like fighting everyone all the time, just to be taken seriously.

There are days when I have no fight left in me, and wonder how bad it is going to get, will I get diabetes, heart disease?

HOME | Contents | Adrenal Crisis! | Abbreviations | Glossary | Forums | Donate | Bios | Add Your Bio

Magdalena, Food-Dependent Cushing’s Bio

5 Comments

Magdalena is from Windsor, Ontario (Originally Poland). She has Food-Dependent / GIP-Dependent Cushing’s Syndrome. This means that genetically, she has cells on her adrenals that are only supposed to be in her intestines. They respond to a polypeptide hormone (GIP) that is produced in response to food. So when she eats, the hormone triggers her adrenal glands and they produce cortisol. It is an ectopic response that is ACTH-independent.

A Golden Oldie last updated 01/22/2008.

~~~

Hi, I am 22 years old now, at diagnsis. I have a rare form of cushing’s syndrome called food-dependant cushing’s syndrome. Sometimes it is referred to as gip-dependant cushing’s syndrome. This means that genetically, I have cells on my adrenals that are only supposed to be in my intestines. They respond to a polypeptide hormone (GIP) that is produced in response to food. So I eat, the hormone triggers my adrenal glands and they produce cortisol. It is an ectopic response that is acth-independant.

I am writing this bio because it was very hard to find this disease, and it was like nothing else, even normal cushing’s fit rather loosely.

I began having problems at age 12, but the disease did not “blow up” till I was 19. When i was 12, I started having stomach pains. First, the doctors said it was apendicitis, then my period, then lactose intolerance. This was on and off, and I kept eliminating foods that I thought i might be allergic too.

When I was 15, the problem intensified. I lost my period and my stomach aches grew worse; I noticed that my stomach was quite swollen after a normal meal, and everyone elses was not. I assumed that it was my fault and I should eat healthier.

Unfortunately, the stomache aches grew worse till my stomach swelled even below my breastbone and I could barely breathe. I started eating very little and very thought out proportions of food, often feeling that I was doing this to myself and then feeling that this couldn’t be normal.

At 17, I started getting really annoyed that my face was so swollen all the time and my skin so bad; I thought i was just ugly. I was quite thin at 5’5″ and 105lbs, but with a very swollen face and stomache. This was getting out of control, the pain was worse, and I was getting thinner. My yelled at me in class because I wasn’t jumping high enough and I told her it hurt cuz of my stomach, she told me I was too thin and that I probably had an eating disorder.

I was in so much pain, I would have gone to a doctor for a monkey growing out of my head. I went to the eating disorder doctor, I told her my stomach hurt. She told me I had an eating disorder (no kidding.) I was put into a group where they would feed me. Over the next two years, I was put on many antidepressants, fed weight gainers, but the pain grew worse and I grew thinner.

Eventually, they put me in the hospital where the problem grew much worse. I couldn’t even lay down because the food would come back up to my throat and I started having a problem with constipation. Nausea became a problem; thank God I only threw up once in my life, when I was five and I had the flu. I have never had a high temperature since, or thrown up since. This should have been a sign that something was wrong with my immune system, but no one listened. For some reason, my cholesterol was very high and I had a fatty liver. Needless to say, there was no improvement and I signed myself out after 6 weeks.

I knew there was something wrong. I was 19 and the pain was worse. I left my eating disorder doctor with the same complaint that I had come with. So she said that I had IBS. I knew that couldn’t be it, because it never went away, it only got worse, and it had nothing to do with stress or the type of food I ate. To the day of my diagnosis, I thought IBS was a bullshit diagnosis- we don’t know what’s wrong yet…

At 19 something odd happened, i started gaining weight very fast and my ankles and knees started hurting. I was pushing through the pain to eat because life was hard, but I started gaining weight too fast. I went off to a musical theatre conservatory in Feb 04 and disaster struck. I blew up like a balloon, my face looked awful and my stomach would hurt to the point I would become paralyzed. It hurt to breath and I could barely walk upright sometimes. I came home and we went through the diagnosises; pancreatitis, ibs, psychosis, eating disorder, lupus, diabetes, thyroid and celiac disease.

It looked like celiac disease so I eliminated bread, but little changed. It was winter and I could barely shower and comb my hair because I had so little energy. The weight would come on so fast that my skin hurt to touch, and my eyes were swollen shut. I also thought i was psycho, but a little voice said I couldn’t be.

The next october the same cycle occurred, really quick weight gain, fatigue, sweats, and blurry vision. Independant university study was hard, but I got through it. That May and everything started going down, I could exercise again. However, the fatigue, nausea, stomach pain and occasional flareups were a rollercoaster. I know now that these are signs of adrenal insufficiency because my acth was still suppressed. The flareups made me feel crazy, that i was doing this to myself by eating.

The third time this cycle happened was much more painful. It was sept. 06 and I was going to university again. The bachelor of design was tough and I had to focus so much on staying healthy. Going to the gym everyday to sweat so that my swelling would go down. Watching what I ate, doing an IBS diet. I realized I couldn’t digest fruit or vegetables. I kept going to endocrinologist because I had no period and my dhea was high (which worried my gynecologist), but they all said it was nothing. My stomach aches occurred after eating, and even drinking water. The doctor at my school told me that I should know how to stop eating and drinking (He was a really fat, sweaty guy too). I had constipation for 10 days straight and laxatives barely worked. I had such swollen lymph nodes that I tasted raw blood in my throat and could barely swallow. Needless to say, I came home.

I ended up in the hospital at Christmas. The ER doctor and gastroenterologist both said there must be a endo problem because I had been constipated for 10 days, colonoscopy laxatives weren;t working, and my intestines and bladder was so full they couldn’t see on the Ct scan.

I finally went to an endocrinologist in Toronto, Dr. Rosario Briones-Urbina. I suggested Cushing’s, she said I was too skinny. Though I had just gone from 110lbs to 130lbs in two weeks. She agreed to test me in Jan. The test came out 550 out of a max of 250. She waited three months to do the dexamethasone and it was too late, it was march and my cortisol had gone to 90 (the min. was 60). She said she had never seen such a quick cycle.

I wanted to show her just how fast the cycle was; I took a UFC one day that came out 90, the next day I had a party, ate just like everyone else, but got a paralyzing stomach ache and sweats. I did a UFC the next day and it came out 350 (max 250). She was shocked. She said my symptoms fit an extremely rare form called food-dependant cushing’s. Unfortunately, the testing is not standard and I am waiting for it. After it is done, I will have a bilateral adrenalectomy.

If you got this far in my story, thank you for baring with me. I haven’t found a story like mine and wanted to share it, cuz I spent so much time looking. Over two years, I saw 24 specialists. I don;t know how I got through it, I must of been quite a witch with a B. However, I kept pushing. I studied at home independantly to keep me going and have now been accepted to medical school.

The most important advice i have to give is this:

    1. GO TO A TEACHING/RESEARCH HOSPITAL!!!
    2. If you have kids, think twice before eating disorder treatment. I went into the program with pain and a method of coping. I came out with an eating disorder psyche, bad experiences, and a truckload of pills that were making me crazy.
    3. IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE FOOD DEPENDANT CUSHINGS, HERE IS HOW I COPE;
      • the cortisol goes up with too much of any protein, fat or carbs. I eat small turkey/cheese sandwiches at every meal (enough to be full, but well balanced).
      • I use stevia instead of sugar because its natural (health food isle.)
      • alcohol really hurts now, so only a little wine occassionally.
      • lots of yogurts.
      • every couple days a mixture of senna laxative and stool softener (not too often)
    4. Remember the squeekiest wheel gets the grease.

ORKitty, Pituitary Bio

Leave a comment

Another Golden Oldie, this bio was originally posted 01/22/2008

Hi, I’m ORKitty. I live in Portland, OR, with my wonderful husband and kitty. I just turned 50 in 2005.

I began this journey quite possibly 17 years ago when I had some isolated panic attacks and then suddenly had panic 24 hours a day. I also kept crying and didn’t know why. I was eventually put on Xanax and then found a psychiatrist who put me on the anti-depressant imipramine and weaned me off the Xanax. It worked well for both the panic and depression for about 10 years. I gained some weight which I attributed to the anti-depressant. During this time I was still able to work and ran my own home-based business for 3 years. About seven years ago my anxiety worsened and my psychiatrist added Klonopin to deal with it. About this time I began gaining even more weight.

Due to a terrible (and terrifying) experience with a doctor, I developed a real phobia about seeing doctors. I managed to overcome this in early 2003 and have a large lump on my neck examined. An ultrasound showed normal tissue, but while I was there the doctor took my blood pressure at 160/100 and then decided to do an EKG. She found an abnormality and sent me to a cardiologist who diagnosed me with severe cardiomyopathy (next step dead). I was put on medication and had regular echocardiograms every few months and each one showed more improvement.

In fall of 2003 I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and began taking Levoxyl, increasing by very small doses because it seemed to increase my anxiety every time I upped the dose. At the same time I was taken off the imipramine because there was some concern that it may have contributed to my heart problems. As my thyroid meds increased I began to lose weight and began having serious digestive problems including constant diarrhea. I had burning sensations in both arms, edema in both legs and my periods stopped. After some misdiagnoses and some doctor abuse I was finally found to have gallstones and had my gallbladder removed in April of 2004. I had hoped this would clear up the digestive issues, but that wasn’t the case.

After the surgery I noticed that my depression was getting much worse. By July I found that I couldn’t stand to listen to music or watch TV without getting anxious and upset. I was also feeling like I was in a fog and had racing, looping thoughts. I had trouble with reasoning and memory. My psychiatrist began prescribing a variety of medications, none of which seemed to help any of my symptoms. Things were so bad that I became suicidal for the first time in my life.

I finally persuaded my doctor to do a CAT scan to see what was wrong with my digestive system. Nothing showed up there but they found a uterine/ovarian mass and an adrenal adenoma. My doctor didn’t tell me about the adenoma until a later visit when she mentioned it in passing, saying it was nothing to worry about.

Oregon Health Sciences University.

Oregon Health Sciences University. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That was when I saw my first endocrinologist hoping to get help with my thyroid and an explanation of what was going on with my adrenal gland. He did a 24-hr. urine collection and my cortisol was high (200). He did an 8mg Dex test and I didn’t suppress completely so he sent me to Dr. Cook at OHSU who did a CRH/Dex test. The results were somewhat ambiguous, but he decided that the most likely source was the adrenal adenoma and recommended having the gland removed. I had that surgery in December of 2004. The day of the surgery I developed phlebitis in my right arm starting at the site of the IV. My arm became red and swollen from wrist to shoulder and all the superficial veins in that arm clotted up and disappeared. Ten months later I still can’t have blood drawn from that arm.

In the months after my surgery my heart went back to normal and my cholesterol and blood pressure improved, my periods came back and the burning sensations lessened. My legs were still swollen and suddenly became very red and hot. Doctors suggested it might be cellulitis or vasculitis. After 10 days of antibiotics the redness went away and a few months later the edema did, too. An ultrasound of my legs showed a thickened vein in my right leg that suggested there might have previously been a blood clot there. The mental fog slowly improved but I’m still not back to where I was. The anxiety and depression did not improve and have even gotten worse.

I planned to have the uterine mass removed after the adrenal surgery. This would be a total hysterectomy and my surgeon feels that my blood clotting problems need to be treated before the surgery. He is 99% certain that it is not cancerous since it hasn’t changed in over a year so I have the option of having the surgery when and if I choose. Of course there is a very slight chance that this mass could be the ACTH source.

Dr. Cook wants to do the IPSS before the MRI of my pituitary but this clotting problem needs to be dealt with before we stick 3-foot catheters in my veins. Plus I am running out of arm veins for the IVs.

Right now I’m waiting for my doctors to decide how to deal with this clotting problem before I can get the IPSS done.

I had a follow-up visit with Dr. Cook in September of 2005 and he ran all the tests again including the CRH/Dex. Since we thought the adrenalectomy had cured the problem, we were both surprised when my ACTH did not suppress. Dr. Cook wants to do an IPSS to see if the source is ectopic or pituitary. As I mentioned above, there is a slight chance that the growth on my uterus and right ovary could be the source of the ACTH. Neither my Gyn surgeon nor Dr. Cook feel that this is very likely, but it does make having the IPSS even more important than it would normally be.

Grace (Grace), Undiagnosed Bio

1 Comment

Hi Everyone

I suspect I may have cushing’s syndrome or disease but all I know for sure is I’m sick, I don’t know what’s wrong with me……..and I want to get better.

I just turned 25 in March but looking back i think i’ve been showing symptoms for the last 13 years.

At the age of 13 over the school holidays I gained a bunch of weight (14 kg in a month and a half) and since then my weight just keeps climbing up. I also became lethargic, depressed, unmmotivated, struggled with my concentration and continue to do so. The  stretch marks followed the weight gain.  I definitely have a really round face, which I guess could be moon face. My face gets really red and flushed. I have very little body hair but its quite strange that i have hair growth on the lower part of my fingers and toes. I have a significant amount of foot pain especially when I get up in the mornings. I have lower back pain too. I wouldn’t say my periods are highly  irregular but they are often off from my usual 28 day cycle by about 5 to 14 days. This is becoming a more frequent occurrence.  My skin is really thin, soft and doesn’t heal well. Small cuts and bruises take longer than usual to heal and almost always leave scars. I feel hungry and tired all the time.

The depression and fatigue is by far the most debilitating of all the symptoms I have suffered from. My grades in school and later on University have steadily dropped since the age of 13. I find it really hard to concentrate. It was only when I began failing in uni that my parents finally allowed me to see a doctor who was a psychiatrist in 2009.

I had an abnormal EEG showing evidence of seizures. The evidence was not sufficient enough to diagnose me with epilepsy but he called it seizure equivalent depressson. I was then put on heavy rounds of anti-depressants and anti-convulsants which kept on being adjusted. Different dosages and combinations would work for awhile then stop so that meant  more combinations, stronger drugs and higher dosages. To cut a long story short I finally quit the meds in Dec 2011 and began to see a new psychiatrist in May 2012 who ordered blood tests, a thyroid test, sleep-deprived EEG and an MRI.

My blood sugar and cholestrol is normal but heading towards the high range which worries me but not suprising given that I’m obese. The EEG again showed slight evidence of seizures but when I was referred to a neurologist he said I show no evidence of seizures and that normal people have abnormal EEGs all the time(?????) This is despite a history of epilepsy on my Dad’s side of the family. What about non-convulsive seizures-could this explain the lack of poor concentration?

The MRI came out normal, only showed that I  suffer from chronic sinusitis. But then again it wasn’t done by a specialist in the diagnosis of pituitary tumours and they most definitely were not looking for one so if there is a microadenoma, its flown under the radar. The blood tests showed I have a low white blood cell count (neutrophils and monocytes). My cortisol level was normal but then again it wasn’t a 24-hour cortisol test.

From my own research I found that chronic sinusitis could be linked to the depression but my Psychiatrist seemed to be unwilling to explore these leads any further and advised me to stop researching so much online. At the same time he put me a new round of anti-depressants and anti-convulsants which left me feeling weak, tired and drained. For the first two weeks I slept all day and could barely get out of bed. I quit these too in September 2012 and since them haven’t seen any doctors but symptoms remain and its a struggle to live with them every day.

I am still financially dependent on my parents who are tired of my constant “depression” which they feel is an attitude problem so I don’t even speak about it with them any more. They feel I should just try harder. I hope to graduate from  Uni this year but due to my health problems I’m  3 years behind and my grades have suffered. I have health insurance which makes it very difficult to get referrals to specialists and they hardly covers pre-exisitng conditions. All treatment described above was paid for by my parents and not health insurance. They are retired now and don’t want to spend a ton of money they don’t necessarily have, looking for a phantom condition. I understand their point  of view but I feel if I had a child I would do all I could to help them get better.

The more time that passes the more difficult it becomes and the more paralysed I feel. I have a part time internship at a law firm that is even becoming too much now. I can barely study. I’ve lost almost all my friends either because I isolate myself or am too tired and depressed to be there for them like a good friend should.

As of March 2013 I went to see a gynacologist about my irregular periods he ordered another thyroid test, prolactin test and a Pelvic scan so i’ll see how that goes….maybe its PCOS.

Anyway I have no one to talk to . I don’t know what to do next. I wonder if anyone else has been/is in a similar position.

Thanks for listening

HOME | Sitemap | Adrenal Crisis! | Abbreviations | Glossary | Forums | Donate | Bios | Add Your Bio | Add Your Doctor | CushieWiki

Lisa (sagrae), Undiagnosed Bio

Leave a comment

Im a mother of 4 use to work full time till I got to sick and very tired.  Not sure what I have been to alot of drs. My tish flucuates my t4 is always in low range of normal, my cortisol tends to be very low in am and through the day. Ive done saliva test blood tests and urine tests. Im either boarderline or below and its been almost 2 years, 2 surgeries and alot of stress and financial hardship to my family. I had sleep apnea surgery first, then my ovaries removed (that proved the pcos i knew i had). Ive now been told I have reactive hypoglycemia. Been put on many different anti depressants to control my moods, since I never know from one minute to the next how I will be.

saliva test   reference range

1.6               7.0-10.0

1.9               3.0-6.0

.9                  2.0-4.0

.9                  <1.5

serum cortisol tested 1 month later

.6                 4.0-22.0

free testo

3                  2-45

 

t4 tested 1 year ago

5.0               4.7-13.3

t4 tested 2 weeks ago

1.11            0.8-1.8

tsh tested 3months ago

1.94            .40-4.50

tsh tested 1 year ago

4.14             .35-4.94

my acth test

20                6-50

lh test

58                10-54.7  keep in mind ive had a total hysterectomy 6 months ago

 

Im wondering how a dr can figure out what is wrong with me if everything flucuates all the time, and im wondering what is wrong with me? please anybody out there please shed some light on what this could be . Theres days i really feel out of my mind. Current medications started 3 months ago lithium 900 welbutrin 150 estradial 1mg provera 5mg

Newer Entries

%d bloggers like this: