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In Memory of Natalie Fay ~ April 21, 2008

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This is another Golden Oldie.  I’m not sure when it was last written or updated by Natalie but it was updated by me after she died April 21, 2008.

~~

Hi! My name is Natalie, I am 35 years old and I’ve been married for 15 years. I don’t have any children at this time, but we are in the process of adopting. We can hardly wait for our little one to show up on our doorstep. We live down in southern Maryland at this time. I grew up in southern Virginia on a farm. My Dad is still farming; he raises peanuts, corn and soybeans. He has had 2 battles with colon cancer and is still hanging in there. He gives me inspiration. I have my Mom and Grandmother still living home on the farm too and we get there as often as we can. My sister lives near by my parents and has 2 boys. They spend a portion of every summer with us.

There is so much to tell, I really don’t know where to start. I had my official diagnosis in Jan. of 1990. But after all of the information I have learned over the years, I fully believe that it could have started as early as childhood. We will never know for sure.

When I graduated from high school in 1983, I was a happy go lucky teenager with a steady boy friend and many friends. My first year of college was great. I had a lot of fun and thought I had made so many new friends. Joe (boyfriend then, now my husband) left for Marine Corps Boot Camp in the spring of 1984. That was hard but I adjusted fine and was glad to see him come home that summer. In the fall when it was time to go back to school I was a different person. I withdrew from my friends and I pretty much kept to myself. After a weekend visit from Joe, I slipped into a deep depression. I stopped going to class and to work. My so-called friends didn’t want anything to do with me. I started having headaches and dizzy spells. I was really scared. No one knew what I was feeling or would even try to understand. I ended up dropping out of school and went back home. I didn’t want a job; I just stayed home and did baby-sitting jobs. My nephew was born in August of 1985 and I took care of him full time until Joe and I was married in June of 1986.

On our wedding day I cried all through the picture taking. I was very happy but cried anyway. We went to the Blue Ridge Mountains for our honeymoon, I got stung by a bee, got a speeding ticket, and we had no air conditioning in our truck. It was truly one to remember. We came back and moved to North Carolina, where Joe was stationed at the time, and I cried for the next 2 weeks. I had never been that far away from home before.

As a child I had a bad case of asthma and now all of a sudden I’m having no problems. Little did I know that my body was treating itself with cortisol. In Jan. of 1987 I had a doctor’s appointment with my Allergist.

I was told then that I had High Blood pressure and to keep check on it. I was also beginning to be very emotional around this time. I would cry over nothing.

I started having migraine headaches while Joe was away on a deployment. My parents came and took me to the ER and because I had not been able to eat for 3 days and I was living in the dark because the sunlight was killing my head. Again I was told that it was High Blood pressure. Joe came home and left again in June for 6 months on the ship. I moved home and didn’t have any problems that summer. I moved back to Carolina in the fall so that I could get our house ready for Joe’s home coming. The real nerve racking part was that Joe’s ship was part of the mine sweeping going on in the Persian Gulf during 1987.

1988 was a pretty good year. Not too many problems except for headaches. But 1989 is a different story. I fell apart this year. In the spring I broke out in this strange rash that wouldn’t go away and I couldn’t find a doctor that could tell me what it was. Not long after that my periods stopped, we were really excited thinking that we were finally going to have a baby, WRONG! I went 3 months without a cycle; I still had the rash, headaches and high blood pressure. You would think that this would have alerted my OB GYN that something was wrong. Joe came home one day and found me doubled over and took me to the ER and we found out that I had kidney stones. Over all this time I am steady gaining weight. The stones passed and then tests were done and everything was fine there. Finally I decided to go to see Dermatology for the rash and was treated for severe acne. On my second visit with them the doctor took a look at my entire medical record and excused himself from the room. A few minutes later he returned with a doctor from Internal medicine, he took one look at me and said that I was the classic Cushing’s case. Then he went on to explain it to me. This was in Nov.1989. The tests began and I had a CT Scan done in Dec of that year that I didn’t get the results from until after Christmas. They showed a tumor on the pituitary and I was told to go to Portsmouth Naval Hospital right away. We took off and headed to Virginia not knowing what to expect. I was admitted the next day and had a week of peeing in a jug and lots of bloodwork. I was sent home with my surgery scheduled for Feb. 1990. Well, being the Navy, my surgeon was called away and my surgery was delayed until March.

I had transphenoidal surgery in March 1990 and they removed what they could but it had invaded the sinus cavity and they couldn’t get it all. I was sent home on hydrocortizone and had 2 episodes where my cortisol levels dropped too low and had to go the ER. Once I was weaned off I was okay and actually felt pretty good. I had monthly 24-hour urine tests run and they began to come back high again. I was put back in the hospital in Portsmouth and all the tests came back normal. I was sent home and a couple of months later they were high again. Again I went to the hospital and sent home normal. What’s going on here? The next time this happened I demanded that something be done. The head of the Endo dept. (I won’t mention any names, but Handiman knows him personally) tried to tell me that I was faking it so that my husband wouldn’t have to go the Desert Storm. I talked on of the interns to schedule me for an appt with the radiation oncologist and they determined that the tumor was still growing and that I needed to have radiation. Joe was scheduled to go to the desert but he was pulled from that duty and assigned to recruiter’s asst. and we moved to Virginia to my parent’s home for 60 days while I underwent 31 days of traditional radiation to the pituitary. I went back to Carolina feeling more at ease that something had been done. The rash went away but I continued to gain weight and still had Blood pressure problem, but was now being treated for it.

I was doing really well and Joe went away again for 6 months in Oct.1991. He was gone that Christmas, which was hard but I handled it ok. When he returned he had orders to go to Atlanta, GA. I was doing well and we packed up and went. I didn’t like the endo I saw there so I continued my 6-month check ups in Portsmouth when went home to visit.

In the summer of 1994, I started having problems with my left eye and thought it was allergies. I went to the eye doctor and after examining me he sent me to a Neuro Ophthalmologist who ordered a MRI and guess what The Tumor’s back! It was pressing on the optic nerve causing what they called a third nerve palsy. I was treated with medication until Jan 1995, hoping that the tumor would shrink but it got worse. I began to have double vision and my left eye closed completely. In the spring of 95 I again underwent Transphenoidal surgery at Emory University under  Dr. Oyesiku. He was great. I also had a great endo there, Dr. Lewis Blevins (he is at Vanderbilt in Tenn. Now). They still could not retract the entire tumor so I went back in August of that year and had Sterotactic Radiation Surgery. That was a one time radiation and it was a real experience. I had a metal Halo drilled into my head and I had CT scans and MRIs done with it one to determine the exact location of the tumor, then I was placed in a chair that spun in very slow circles while the radiation was being done. When I arrived back in my room they couldn’t find the key to take the halo off, so I had to wear it for another 2 hours until they found it.

It has now been almost 6 years since the last radiation and my current MRIs show some shrinkage of the tumor. I am currently battling high cortisol levels again but I think if we can find the right dosage of medicine it will level off. I am currently taking meds for: thyroid, high blood pressure, estrogen, diabetes, medication to control cortisol, allergy medication and every 3 months I take hormones to make me have a menstrual cycle. But over all I am doing OK.

My husband is out of the Marine Corps now and we live in Maryland. We are in the process of Adopting. We are really excited about this and can hardly wait to get our little one. My husband and Family have been so supportive of me through all of these years and I don’t know what I would have done without them and my close friends.

I feel like I have made many friends here also. This site has been a great help to me and I hope that my story can help someone else.

Take Care everyone!

Natalie

MaryO Note: Natalie had a BLA in March, 2008. She died April 21, 2008.
In Memoriam

Natalie Fay

Monday, April 21, 2008

2001 Cushing’s Lunch. From
left: Joe (Natalie’s husband), Natalie and Linda

Natalie Fay (Natalie65), died April 21, 2008. She was only 42 and had recently had a BLA. I first
met Natalie at a local lunch in November of 2001 and have seen her seval times
since then.

Natalie started the original “Dammit Dolls” that circulated
around the country until people refused to pass them along anymore.

Dammit Doll.

Natalie also made counted cross-stitch
Cushing’s Awareness Pins:

Natalie’s bio… http://www.cushings-help.com/natalies_story.htm

Some recent past
posts.

February 10, 2008

going to UVA I am going for my first visit with Dr. Hanks at
UVA on the 20th. I will also see Dr. Vance that day. I haven’t seen her before
either. I am planning on having bilateral adrenal surgery in March. I am a
little nervous about this, but it is going to be a positive thing I hope. I
would love to hear from anyone who has had this done so that I will have an idea
of what to expect. after surgery.

Thanks! Natalie

March 18, 2008

surgery update Hey everyone!

I’m back! It has been a
very slow week and I’m just satrting to feel like moving around again. I had BLA
on the 10th and came home on friday. My parents have taken my boys (3 & 6)
home to Va. I have missed them so much this week, but I think it was the right
thing to do. I don’t know how I would have done it without them. I am still very
sore and tired at times, but I’m coming along. Sorry this has taken so long to
get out to you guys, I thought things were taken care of but I was wrong. Oh
Well! I’m doing good and I’ll keep in touch. Thanks for all of your thoughts and
prayers.

Natalie

Message Board Signature:

pit surgery 1990
traditional 30 days
radiation 1990
pit surgery 1995
sterotactic radiation surgery 1995
2004
still have remaining tumor
cortisol levels still off balance
BLA March 10,
2008


Tributes and Memories on the message boards…


Our first local DC area Cushie lunch November 17, 2001 with Linda, Jayne, me and Natalie – all in Cushe Colors [Photographer: Robin]

Our first local DC area Cushie lunch November 17, 2001 with Jayne, Linda, Natalie, MaryO and Dianne [Photographer: Robin]

Our first local DC area Cushie lunch November 17, 2001 with Jayne, Linda, Natalie, MaryO and Dianne [Photographer: TomO]

Our second local DC area Cushie lunch February 9, 2002 all the families [Photographer: Robin]

Our second local DC area Cushie lunch February 9, 2002 with Jayne, Marcia, Heather, Natalie and MaryO [Photographer: Robin]

Our second local DC area Cushie lunch February 9, 2002 with Jayne, Marcia, Heather, Natalie and MaryO [Photographer: Robin]

Our second local DC area Cushie lunch February 9, 2002 with Jayne, Marcia, Heather, Natalie and MaryO. LynneInVa made the roses for us from candles. [Photographer: Robin]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with lots of us! [Photographer: Robin]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with lots of us! [Photographer: Robin]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with lots of us! [Photographer: Robin]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with lots of us! [Photographer: Robin]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with Pat, MaryO, Ruth, Natalie, Susan, Jayne [Photographer: TomO]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with Pat, MaryO, Ruth, Natalie, Susan, Jayne [Photographer: Robin]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with Joe, Jed and Catherine [Photographer: Robin]

Our three families: Tom and MaryO, Natalie and Joe, Robin and Jayne…and kids [Photographer: a waitress]

Our three families: Tom and MaryO, Natalie and Joe, Robin and Jayne…and kids [Photographer: a waitress]

TomO being silly, stealing Catherine’s nose. [Photographer: Robin]


http://www.wrightfuneralhome.org/index.cfm

Natalie Grissom Fay
(June 11, 1965 – April 21, 2008)


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Courtland, Virginia– Natalie Grissom Fay, 42, passed away April 21, 2008 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown, Md. She was born in Petersburg, Va, a daughter of Edward Scott and Nan Lucy Grissom and was a 1983 graduate of Southampton High School. Natalie actively supported several Cushing Support Groups, and was a member of the Patuxent Presbyterian Church. Surviving in addition to her parents is her husband, Joseph P. Fay; two sons, Joseph Edward (Jed) Fay and Nathan Lee Fay all of Hollywood, Md.; one sister, Annette G. Stephenson of Courtland, Va.; two nephews, Scott and Vance Stephenson; and her father-in-law, Edward K. Fay and wife, Sunee, of Deltona, Fl. The funeral will be conducted at 2 pm Friday at Wright Funeral Home with the Rev. Edmund Ellis officiating. Burial will follow in Riverside Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 7 to 9 pm Thursday at the home of Edward and Nan Grissom, 16046 Wakefield Road, Courtland, and suggest that in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Cushings Help, c/o Mary O’Connor, 4094 Majestic Lane, #328, Fairfax, Va. 22033.

sjw (Jane W), Adrenal Bio

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My name is Jane and I am 76 years old. I was recently diagnosed with Cushing’s Syndrome after years and years and years of suffering symptoms.

My doctor for the past 7 years said that I had pre diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, fatty liver, asthma, emphysema, obesity, anxiety and depression. She missed that I have actual diabetes and often told me that if I would only eat right a lot of these problems would go away. She missed the leaky heart valve, COPD, and most important, the Cushing’s.

in 1997 another doctor told me that I had a harmless tumor on top of my kidney. He said it was nothing.I shouldn’t worry about it, just forget about it, it was nothing, That was about the time my weight began to go out of control. So for at least 30 years I have not known what was wrong with me.

I spent 2 weeks in the hospital with depression while on a 600 calorie diet and I gained weight. My new endocrinologist said he was scared when he first saw me. But he has promised to take care of me because nobody else has. He has started me on Korlym and I was feeling a lot better at 3 weeks, after losing 17 pounds with no effort. Now though, I have started a new trial. This new drug does not block the progestin so in the long run will be better for me.

We shall see. I can only hope.

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Matt, Undiagnosed Bio

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Hello, my name is Matt. I am extremely desperate for answers as I simply do not want to live anymore in this condition. I have been suffering for years with something that I strongly believe was caused by continued use of inhaled corticosteroids (Azmacort asthma inhaler, and Fluticasone nose spray). I used these inhalers for about twenty years. 2 puffs of Azmacort every morning and every night for over 20 years.

From 1996 to 2007, I began to develop several health problems. These included severe neck pain, eye twitching, tremor, heartburn, aching teeth, vertigo attacks, peeling skin from my lips and inside my cheeks, a lower eyelid “cyst” that I had removed, an episode of thrush, depression, daily headaches, insomnia, and low energy.

In 2007, I took my inhalers and threw them out. I was trying to figure out if the inhalers were contributing to my health problems. Within months of discontinuing the use of the inhalers, a few of my symptoms went away, but most of them got worse and I developed more worsening problems- brain fog, crawling skin, constant eye pressure, a feeling of sand in my eyes under my eyelids, constant crying, strange pulling feelings in my eyes, cheeks forehead and scalp, muscle atrophy in my neck, face, and shoulders, withdrawl/hangover feelings, concentration/memory problems, suicidal tendencies.

I always assumed that the problems were caused by the inhalers and figured they would subside with time, and I still think that they may. I have always been optimistic for some reason that I am getting better, but the symptoms have still not gone away. It has been ten years now since I instantly quit the corticosteroids and like I said earlier, I am getting desperate. I have talked to dozens of doctors over the past ten years, and they ALL dismiss the idea that the inhalers caused my problem.

In fact, since my symptoms are all invisible, my MRIs are unremarkable, and my blood work is always in range, most of my doctors I am pretty sure think that I am crazy. Funny thing about that is that I have no reason to make up symptoms that I am suffering with. I have already distanced myself from all of my family and friends. I do not tell any of them how much I suffer, because it is so humiliating when people say that I am depressed, or need rest, or should cut down on stress.

In other words, nobody believes that I am truly sick. I am sure that if I killed myself tomorrow because of the pain, people would say that I was a lost soul, or lonely. I have trouble being around other people because I always feel like I need to cry and decompress. I had to resign from my teaching position because of my insomnia and lack of ability to concentrate. It was the one last thing that I loved. I tried to hang on as long as I could, but I felt that the pressure to be at work and perform well daily was not benefiting my health and probably harming it.

Anyway, here is where I stand right now–


I do seen an endocronologist. I found out years ago that my cortisol levels and most other hormones other than my testosterone are normal (my testosterone level was at 100 for God knows how long). I was shocked when I found that out. I was sure that my cortisol would be through the roof, but here is the thing– I NEVER had any blood tests done while I was taking the corticosteroids. Only years after discontinuing them.

In my opinion, my cortisol levels were elevated (or depressed) while I was on the steroids. I believe that the inhalers poisoned my body. 99% of my symptoms are in and around my mouth, neck, throat, head and eyes (right where the spray was going). I believe that my cortisol levels are normal now because I am no longer taking the inhalers and my body is making the correct amount. What happens, however, to all of the cortisol that was building up in my body if this was indeed happening?

I believe that my symptoms post-inhaler are due to my body trying to get back to normal. But ten years is a long time. I was sure that I would be better by now but I really dont know how long it takes to recover from what I did to my body with those corticosteroids. After all, I used Azmacort shortly after its inception and beyond the time that it was discontinued in the US, when I was ordering it online from the UK. There probably are not many if any people that used that inhaler as diligently and for as long as I did. I have always been thin my whole life, so I cannot say that I ever had a ton of fat on my body that would indicate Cushing’s.

In the past several years though, I have noticed that I am losing mass in my neck, face, and shoulders. My face is becoming more angular. The spot between my shoulders where a camels hump would be is becoming more and more concave. It seems like this is kind of the opposite or reverse of Cushing’s. Could this be because my body is trying to recover and slowly melting away the fat deposits on my face and neck?

Again, I am extremely desperate for answers and help. I look forward to being a part of this forum and eager to find out if anybody else out there has had a similar experience to what I have been going through. I have researched Cushing’s and other diseases for years. One thing I have never been able to find online is how long does it take to recover from Cushing’s. If I did, indeed, have Cushing’s, it would have been building up for nearly 20 years. What kind of recovery would be involved with unknowingly having Cushing’s for that long? I really need to find out if it is possible that I could still be recovering after 10 years off of the corticosteroids. I still have some faith, but that faith is definitely waning.

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Nancy (chance), Steroid-Induced Bio

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golden-oldie

 

Originally posted April 18, 2008

I have Iatrogenic Cushings—I also have adrenal insuffiency —One doctor told me to just say I have Addison’s—I have many symptoms of Addison’s but I don’t have the salt issues. I have much empathy for the 52 year old man.

I am 60 and have been on cortico-steroids since 1979—everyday. It has beaten up my body alot-oh–I have steroid dependent asthma–I have essentially been in statis asthmaticus and/or on steroids for 30 years.

My allergist told me I have the twitchiest lungs he has ever seen. I am sharing this because anyone else on steroids for their asthma must have very twitchy lungs too.

I know I am lucky because I have never been on a respirator–Hospitalized yes.

I would like to hear from other folks with steroid dependent asthma or other Cushing’s folks.

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Meme’s Brother-in-Law, Steroid-Induced Bio

1 Comment

golden-oldie

 

 

Help!! We get no answers but we have questions! My brother-in-law is 52 yrs old and has had a lifetime of prednisone use due to chronic asthma.

Last spring he got a cold that completely debilitated him to the point where the most he could do was take a shower and sleep. This went on for months. In and out of doctors’ offices looking for answers. Getting none. Lots and lots of tests.

Around September he started regaining some strength and was able to return to work part time.

By October, he had another cold and everything quickly went down hill. Severe fatigue, lightheadedness, muscle weakness etc. etc.

After seeing pulmonary specialists and every other doctor we could, thanks to our HMO, we were told steroid myopathy, Cushing’s Syndrome, cardiac myopathy and the obvious shut down of the adrenal glands due to this.

Now we see why there is no energy!! But what do we do? We live in the Midwest but would go anywhere for treatment or help.

The main question is how does a person get enough strength back to enjoy and have some quality of life?? At this point he is on a maintenance dose of 10mg of prednisone per day so he can live. Should an endocrinologist be checking him?? Any suggestions or comments are greatly appreciated!!! Thank you.

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Kathleen (ForegoneLegacy), Pituitary Bio

8 Comments

golden-oldie

 

Originally posted November 20, 2008

Hi, my name is Kathleen. I’m 24 years old and live in southern pa.

I had my two pituitary tumors removed 8/22/08 and I’m still not feeling any better really.

Over the last decade I have been diagnosed with cushings, Lyme, lupus, endometriosis, sinus
tachycardia, fibromyalgia, arthritis, asthma, the list seems to go on and on.

And I guess I had it in my head that once I had this surgery that I would magically get better and move on with my life – go to college, get an apartment, get my license, and hopefully lose all the weight so maybe one day I could be confident enough to start dating again.

Its been nearly 3 months and I seem to be losing hope. My neurosurgeon says that the pathology reports showed “essentially” nothing (still not sure what that means) and that he doesn’t need to see me again.

The ENT who did the surgery was wonderful but can’t really help with anything but making my
nose/sinuses/gums ok. 🙂 And endocrinologists – I have been seeing them for ten years, and never met one whom I liked or who was helpful. Right now I’m getting a full cardio workup to try to fix my weird rhythm.

All of this is being done at Georgetown in D.C, but I’ve been all over the east coast. I don’t know, I guess I hoped maybe you’d have some insight or hopefulness to latch on – cause I put all my eggs in this basket and I feel like I’m about to drop the basket.

Thanks for listening,
Kathleen

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MIranda (Miranda34), Steroid-Induced Cushing’s

1 Comment

steroids

 

Hi,
I have only recently been diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome,and it is due to the mediciine i take for asthma.ilast year i kept collapsing in the street and iwas suffering from low blood-pressure and hypoglycemia.

 

I live in france where this illness is practically unheard of. I am on two different medications to treat my illness but have gained a lot of weight,have a ‘camel’s hump’,edema on my legs and feet as well as having a ‘moon-shaped face”. I am British-American and would love to hear other people’s stories of living with this disease.

 

I am exhausted all the time,depressed,can’t concentrate on anything…i have trouble leaving the house because i get dizzy and people stare at me and judge me because i am obese.

 

I came to this website to hear other people’s stories and to feel less alone because Cushing’s syndrome is a nightmare.

Take care!

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Lydia M, Pituitary Bio

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The pituitary gland

 

I started showing symptoms of sinus pressure three years ago,

I have asthma now from the drainage, I have moon face, buffalo hump, rosacea, and a 50 lb weight gain. Many other symptoms.

My journey has begun. It’s a blessing that I returned to my family doctor after moving back to the area. He knew what it was right away, many others missed it.

After the initial breakdown I feel great relief that I have a diagnosis and my journey now has a direction.

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Valerie (vj713), Steroid-Induced Bio

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golden-oldie

 

Originally posted Monday, December 1, 2008

I developed severe asthma 6 years ago. At that time the pulmonary doctors put me on high dose steroids, and I have continually been on high dose steroids since then. As a result, I now have Cushings,addisons and type 2 diabetes. I have tried so many times to get off the steroids but I end up very sick and hardly able to breathe. I’m searching for help.

I hope someone is out there in my shoes so you can tell me how you are coping with this disease.

 

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Zoann M (Zoann), Steroid-Induced Bio

1 Comment

steroids

 

In July 2010 I was rushed to the hospital by a friend who was convinced that I was dying. Having had asthma for many years, I kept telling her I wasn’t having an asthma attack, I was just so tired I could barely hold my head up. The ER doctor was a brand new resident, she took one look at me and said “You’ve got Cushing’s.” I had no idea what she was talking about, but because I was too tired to care, I agreed to be admitted to the hospital for testing. Five days later I walked out with a confirmed diagnosis of exogenous Cushing’s Syndrome caused by massive doses of prednisone I had been taking for more than 10 years for the asthma.

Five years later I have had Adrenal Insufficiency added to the long list of conditions caused by the prednisone overdoses. I am steroid dependent now; 15 mg of prednisone daily keeps me from being admitted to the hospital for asthma attacks. Taking the drug that almost killed me in order to stay alive is one of the hardest things I have to do.

I am fortunate in that I have an excellent endocrinologist who works well with my primary care doctor to manage the multiple medications I take to cope with my various chronic conditions. Right now the thing I struggle with the most is the pain – muscle pain, feet pain, joint pain, nerve pain. Trying to find medications to deal with the pain is almost impossible; I can’t take most narcotics, even if I could find a doctor to prescribe them.

My endocrinologist told me at our last visit that there was nothing else he could do for me except monitor my condition. My primary care doctor has said the same thing. It is very discouraging to be told that there is nothing else that can be done.

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