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JoAnn (Flojo3), Adrenal Bio

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After reading this website for awhile, with much interested and appreciation, I thought I should post my introduction even though I don’t have a confirmed diagnosis yet.

I am a 63 year old Canadian widow who recently retired – partly because I was finding work difficult, i.e. not as sharp mentally, fatigued, less motivated, sleepy in the afternoon, digestive problems and some days just not feeling well.

My symptoms started about 11 years ago. Acne/boils started developing on my face and I also noticed, after growing my hair longer, that it became curly after being straight all my life. About this time I also gained about 35 lbs. quickly. As I wanted to quit smoking I went on the Atkins Diet and walked at least an hour about 6 days a week. I did lose the 35 pounds in 5 months. However, when I did quit smoking some months later I gained 65 pounds in 6 months – more than I thought I deserved to gain (I am 5′ 2″). At first my doctor was not concerned as he said I had not ever been heavy and would start losing this weight. However, after three years or so he began to strongly encourage me to do so especially once I developed very high blood pressure and cholesterol. I was trying but with no success.

In addition, some of the symptoms I have been experiencing, some off and on, are: dry skin, skin tags, thinning hair on the top of my head, e, aches and pains (including repetitive strain injury), fatigue and anxious feelings. Last summer, for a short period of time, I had very dark pigmentation under my arms, under my breasts and on my forehead. I am on medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid and hiatus hernia.

Over the years I did mention some of these symptoms to my doctor and he said it was probably because of my overweight. I have been doing research on the computer for years and several years ago he readily agreed to send me for testing for PCOS although he didn’t feel that is what I had because I have 3 children.

Last year I had, I believe, two bladder infections and this year when I went for my annual check up on November 29th he found I had one again. (This is embarrassing!) I had no symptoms/pain though – maybe just frequent urination especially at night. As a result and because my mother had kidney cancer, he decided to send me for an ultra sound on my kidneys. My followup appointment was on December 22nd. He said my kidneys looked fine, however, there was an abnormality in my adrenal glands. I think he said they were swollen. He said they are not suspecting cancer and that is probably why I couldn’t lose weight, had high blood pressure, etc. He seemed pleased that finally there may be an explanation for my various symptoms. I must admit I did not tell him everything as I did not want to seem like a hypochondriac. My doctor ordered a CT Scan (appointment originally April 11th) and referred me to Urologist.

I had my appointment with him on January 14th and he rescheduled my CT Scan for January 28th. I recently completed lab work, i.e. 24-hour urine test, glucose, creatintine, uric acid, sodium, potassium, chloride, CBC (Hematology), urine test, serum Cortisol 8 a.m. test and a urine R4M (can’t read that writing too well). On February 15th I have a follow-up appointment with the Urologist. I have mixed feelings. In one way I am very happy at last that I am not “crazy” and something is wrong, however, I am frightened at what is ahead. Also, part of me wants to know everything and part of me wants to let things unfold a bit at a time. For the most part I do feel positive and feel that if it was cancer I would not have been having symptoms for at least 11 years. So I continue to read/research every night and have learned a lot from this board (have started to keep a journal) and am enjoying the humour as well. Sorry this is so long but it has been many years of various symptoms and frustrations. Thanks for reading my introduction and for sharing your knowledge and experiences.

JoAnn

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Jean (Jinxie) Cushing’s and Acromegaly Bio

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This bio was originally posted 1/26/2008

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My Cushing’s and Acromegaly Odyssey

During the summer of 1999 I was a trim and fit 130 pound woman. I was very athletic and worked out all the time. At that time I had also been taking Tae Kwon Do. I was able to eat anything that I wanted and not gain weight. I wore size 8 pants.

Fast forward to May of 2000. I developed increasing stomach and bowel problems. I had a spastic colon and serious GERD. Along with that came a poof in my belly. Although I was still wearing the same size my stomach started to look “pregnant”. I was referred to a gastroenterologist who began treating my myriad of health issues. He really couldn’t find a reason for all of it but said he could treat it. For awhile I managed okay on the drugs and diet that I was treated with. Everything went in cycles.

During the summer of 2001 my naturally light blonde hair began to change color. It got black and mousy looking at the roots. At the same time it started thinning, the texture was horrible and no longer shiny and baby soft. I developed heat intolerance. I was uncomfortable in 80 degree weather. I also developed strange rashes and red dots on my skin. Later that fall my neck and face started to turn beet red. It stayed that way.

I could no longer fit in my wedding rings and my shoe size went from a size 7 ½ to and 8 1/2. Doctors didn’t find this impressive. My neck went from 13 inches around to 16. I gained 12 pounds in 1 week alone. I started getting real fat in my stomach and armpits, and I could no longer wear normal bras. I also started getting a lot of fat on my upper back. I grew hair in places that women should not grow hair. My face was huge with strange acne outbreaks. I also got acne in weird spots.

At the time I had put on about 20 pounds all in my stomach. When I would try other clothing it wouldn’t work because the next size bigger fit in the waist but the butt and legs were huge. I gave up on real pants and started to wear stretch clothes all the time. At this time I could no longer exercise to my peak performance. I was tired all the time and never felt well and I looked like I was 6 months pregnant. I thought that I was getting old.

January of 2002 my bowel and stomach troubles peaked. I was in and out of the hospital. Although I was following the healthy eating plan and exercising no doctors believed me. My PCP did a TSH test and it came back at 27.48. I was hypothyroid, at that time my estradiol levels were also non-existent. So off I was sent to an Endocrinologist. I was given replacements for both yet nothing improved.

This started an intense year of doctors. I was diagnosed with anything and everything at this point. I was started on the Atkins diet plan. I followed this religiously and walked for up to 2 hours a day and continued to gain weight. By this time I was 165 pounds. Finally realizing that something horrible was wrong with me I started seeking out Endo’s on my own. It led me to one who thought he should do a few 24 UFC’s. One came back high, 2 others came back high normal (33.4 and 33.9 with a range of 2.9-34). They then did serum cortisols which came back below normal. I was frustrated.

It was November by now and I was getting no where fast. At this point I had seen 11 different doctors. The last of which told me that there was no way I was eating healthy and not losing. He even suggested that my fresh sliced berry snack was making me fat. By now I’ developed high blood pressure and high blood sugars. My fasting blood glucose came in at 170.

By this time I was so exhausted and developed such horrid bone pain that I could not even exercise anymore. I remember waking up late one morning and crying. I went downstairs and told my hubby I was sure my back was breaking. It was horrible. I weighed 196 pounds and looked 9 months pregnant with triplets.

I came home and looked the tests up on the internet. I started reading everything that I could find. I knew then that I had Cushing’s. I found the Cushing’s help site. The trouble was that some tests were normal and some were abnormal. Finally in January of 2003 I went to see Dr. Friedman after another patient emailed me. Dr. Friedman tested my 17-Hydroxysteroids and 17- Ketosteroids which came back elevated. He also did some additional salivary cortisols testing. He finally figured out that I not only had Cyclic Cushing’s but also Acromegaly.

After many more tests and some MRI’s my tumors were found. I had pituitary surgery to remove them. I was devastated that I was not cured from the Cushing’s. After much consulting I decided to proceed with a Bilateral Adrenalectomy to cure it once and for all. I am recovering slowly but surely.

I am now 4 months post-op.

Click any thumbnail to view the larger image.

Before Cushing’s [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

In the kitchen [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

Jinxie [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

Jinxie [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

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