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MizBellaTru, Undiagnosed bio

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golden-oldie

A Golden Oldie from August 12, 2007

I’m a 48-year old female who has had an awful lot of illness over the past 12 years and starting to wonder if there could be some connection to all of it even though my doctors don’t think there is. They just think I’m one of those unlucky souls who just is sick alot and doesn’t have very good genes.

Here’s what I can tell you about me health-wise:

In 96 I had to have my colon removed due to Ulcerative Colitis. This resulted in 3 surgeries.

In 97 I developed Iritis (inflammation of the eye) and one of the docs said that because I no longer have a colon and have an auto-immune disorder that now my whacked out immune systems has started attacking my eyes. I’m in remission currently but this will be something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life.

Things were fairly quiet for a few years with the exception of having Iritis flare-ups and don’t remember anything else going on until 2000 when I broke my left ankle (badly) and now have a steel plate with 11 bolts holding my ankle together. (This happened in 2000 and I still have problems with that ankle).

In 2001 I was diagnosed with Diabetes. This had run in my family (my great-grandmother had been diabetic and I had been borderline diabetic as a child). I started out taking oral medications but after a couple of years this wasn’t enough and it resulted in me being on insulin now for the past 3 years. (Sugars still aren’t under control).

Also in 2001 I had some kind of seizure. Was taken to the hospital and after a lot of blood tests they thought it might be due to a calcium deficiency and recommended I go see an Endo. However, when I wen to see an endo he didn’t think my calcium was deficient enough to cause what had happened and recommended I go see a neurologist. The neurologist thought it was some kind of seizure too and ran some preliminary tests on me but he wouldn’t return any calls for me to find out what other tests should be run. I gave up on him and still never had an answer about what had caused this very weird episode. (What had happened was that I had been at work and all of a sudden my jaw started to tighten up and my head cocked to the side and I started making all these weird grimaces. My mouth became locked up so could barely get any words out. I couldn’t turn my head – it was as if it was locked in place. This is what led the ER (after running blood tests) to determine that they thought my reaction was due to low calcium. To get my rigidity to loosen up, they gave me several shots (can’t remember now what it was) but it finally had allowed my body to loosen up enough that I could finally leave the hospital. This event lasted several hours and moved in to my arms where they became so rigid that it felt like someone was turning my arms inside out. I was completely exhausted after that had happened.

As time went on I would have periodic episodes of what was thought to be a seizure and I just started to learn to live with it. Sometimes only my face was affected and sometimes my whole body would become very rigid and after several hours these episodes would pass but I was always left feeling completely worn out.

Throughout all this time my Diabetes has been almost impossible to get it under control. My insulin doses would be increased but I never could get my sugars to stabilize.

In the spring of 2006 I developed some type of wound on the top of my left foot. It spread and ulcerated and I went to several types of doctors and a couple of them thought it might have been a spider bite of some kind and due to the diabetes it wasn’t healing. I was put on various types of strong antibiotics but nothing was helping. I finally was referred to an infectious disease expert and he said I had some type of serious strain of staph infection and he finally was able to get me on an antibiotic that started to help me heal. I’m now left with some horrible scarring on my left foot but at least I didn’t lose my foot which is what I thought might happen.

In August of 2006 I developed Bells Palsey on the left side of my face. I went to a neurologist (different one from the one I had gone to for my “seizure”). He was the one who diagnosed me with Bells. In the process of seeing him I had one of those episodes in his office and he watched me very closely as it evolved and told me that he thought I had a form of “Dystonia” which is a movement disorder. After a couple of months my Bells resolved although I do have some permanent nerve damage in my face which affects how I smile but it seems to only be really noticeable to me.

In late fall of 2006 I noticed my right ear was hurting quite a bit and was draining. I went to this ear doc and she determined I had a ruptured eardrum with a huge hole that might require surgery. She also determined (after some tests) that I had an infection in the mastoid and said it was imperative that I not let any water get in my ear so that the ear could dry out enough and the infection to clear up before I have surgery. She said it could take a couple months before my ear might be dry enough and told me to come back in a couple of months. During that first visit she also did a hearing test on both ears to establish a baseline. I came back to see her in Jan 2007. When she looked at my ear she said it looked like the eardrum was starting to show some signs it was trying to heal itself (because originally she thought the hole was too big for it to ever heal on its own). She told me to give it some more time and come back again in a couple of months. I came back to see her in April 2007 and the hole was still showing some progress in trying to repair itself so she said she didn’t want to operate if my body could heal the hole. In June of 2007 my left ear started producing a very high pitched ringing sound. I’m not talking a little ringing sound but a sound loud enough it kept me up at night. I had noticed my hearing had diminshed quite a bit in that left ear. I then developed some dizziness and a sense of fullness in my left ear and noticed that when the barometric pressure changed my head felt like it was going to explode. When I went back again to the ear doc she surmised that she thought I now had developed Menieres. She put me on a diuretic and a steroid as this is supposed to help with Menieres but it didn’t seem to do a thing for me. The ear doc ran another hearing test and found that my hearing in my left ear had diminished since it was first baselined last December.

So, a little over a week ago my right ear (the one with the perforated eardrum) started hurting quite a bit and the ear started draining. Again I went back to the ear doc and she determined I had a sinus infection and an ear infection so she put me on an oral antibiotic and antibiotic ear-drops. It’s been a full 7 or 8 days on this antibiotic treatment and my hearing in my right ear has diminshed considerably to where I can hardly hear a persons’ voice on the phone. I’m to stay on this present course of antibiotics for another week. In the past I’ve always responded to antibiotics but it doesn’t seem to be helping this time. My right ear has been draining for a whole week and it’s never done that before.

Also I want to point out that I gained a lot of weight over the last 15 years and I’m now about 120 lbs overweight. I gained 12 of those pounds in just less than 2 weeks recently and my eating hasn’t changed. This is what made me start looking on the internet about rapid weight gain when I came across Cushings and started wondering if I could have this.

At this time I’m waiting on some results from a urine test to see if I’m starting to have a problem with my kidneys because I’m dealing with a lot of edema lately. I don’t know if all the problems I’m having such as the poor wound healing, edema, diabetes, developing high blood pressure are all separate things or more related to my Diabetes.

So at this time I can’t claim that I’m a “cushie” because that’s not been identified yet but I’m thinking that I should get tested for it.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with me right now.

Thank you for reading this very long bio.

MizBellaTru

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Sandi J, Undiagnosed Bio

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Recently I had a kidney stone. I went to the ER where they did a CT scan. The confirmed the stone and gave me pain pills to tough it out. A couple of weeks later I got a letter describing all of the CT findings. I had to look up all of them to figure out what they meant. One of them was adrenal adenoma. When I started reading about this one it was like reading my medical history. Weight gain in the belly, hump on my shoulders, high blood pressure, high sugar, high triglycerides, fatigue, depression, serious panic attacks, aching muscles…

I didn’t have a regular doctor because I just moved to Phoenix and was fed up with the VA. I’m a disabled vet due to a back injury in my first year of enlistment. So I got an internal doctor and showed her my CT findings, she wasn’t worried but upon insistence I got her to test more. She called me a few days later to tell me that it was a functioning adenoma. She is sending me to an endocrinologist because it might be part of a bigger autoimmune disease, I’m guessing Cushings.

I told her I knew exactly when it started, in 2003. That was shortly after finishing Hepatitic C treatment and when I had my first panic attack. I had no idea what was happening and called 911 and took an ambulance ride to the ER. They found nothing physical, so continued my life of being treated as a hypochondriac. Oh yes, prior to the Hep C diagnosis I was treated as a mental patient, depression got stamped on my forehead for over a year…

Now here I am 11 years later, 60 pounds over weight, can barely go up stairs without getting out of breath and starting a panic attack. Doctors have been riding me about my weight, and not exercising… Finally they hear me!

Now I have found this board and have lots of reading to do.

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Laree (Laree), Pituitary Bio

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My Thanksgiving Day was less stressful this year than I thought it might be, because I had my head examined the day before at Johns Hopkins at about 9:30 in the morning.  By 1:30 in the afternoon, my endocrinologist there, a metabolic bone specialist, had emailed me that I was the proud parent of a 0.7mm lesion on the right side of my pituitary gland.  All day Tuesday I had performance anxiety because I feared that after six months of testing every liquid my body could produce for excessive cortisol, I had finally been given the green light to undergo the Holy Grail of tests and have a look-see at the Master Gland.  I feared that I wouldn’t be able to come up with the goods, but I managed to produce, and now I’m being referred to a neurosurgeon.

It’s been a very long process, even though the testing has only been a six month part of it.  In 2001, I broke  my collar bone while playing tennis.  Granted, I fell down, but it’s not like I made a Boris Becker leap for the ball or anything.  Then in 2003, my first stress fracture, followed by another one in 2005.  Then a crushed wrist on another tennis court mishap–my feet got tangled up when I was moving backward, and within a week, I was having my wrist rebuilt with a titanium plate and several screws.  Then there was  the broken tailbone, followed by the upper arm compression fracture suffered while pushing a small car off an ice shelf in Ohio.  And finally the L4 vertebra that I broke loosening the lug nuts on a tire I was changing with my still-healing broken arm.

After each incident, I would ask the doctors what could be causing all these weird bone breaks, and sometimes they would send me off for a dexascan to see if I might have osteoporosis, but the test always said no, and the doctors were always orthopedists of one sort or another.  They would shrug and say that these things happen.  After the upper arm (this past January), and the subsequent dexascan, the ortho told me that the test said I didn’t have osteoporosis, that if I wanted to try to learn more about the bone formation, I should see an endocrinologist, but he didn’t know of one to whom he could refer me.  He did refer me to his colleague to have my osteoarthritic hip replaced.  I’m 53, by the way.  He told me that going to an endocrinologist was likely to yield nothing, and he opined that I was suffering from “Laree Martin syndrome,” if I need for it to have a name.

My gynocologist, who works in the same hospital center as Ortho 1, we now lovingly refer to him as Frick, referred me to an endocrinologist who also practices in the same hospital center.   I got myself hooked up with her, and she very quickly determined that since I had broken not one, but all of the bones that are considered to be typical indicators of osteoporosis, despite multiple dexascans to the contrary, I had osteoporosis.  Shortly thereafter, she discovered excess, but “unimpressive,” levels of cortisol in my system.

Ortho 2, we’ll call him Frack, saw me prior to my hip replacement, and I complained about my back injury the week prior.  He pronounced that I had not broken my vertebra, but he offered to send me for an MRI, if that would make me feel better.  I scheduled the MRI, had it in the evening, called his office in the morning to report that I had gone for the test, as he had asked me to do, and instead of leaving a message, I got put directly through to the doctor.  Turns out that he was wrong, and it is possible to break your L4 vertebra pulling on a lug wrench with a still-healing compressions fracture in your upper arm . . .  if you have osteoporosis.  When I told him that he didn’t have to worry about my bones in general, because I was seeing an endocrinologist for that.  I just needed him to be extra careful not to break anything when implanting the new hip.  I told him that the endo specialist was working me up for Cushing’s, and he told me that I certainly did not have Cushing’s, because I wasn’t 100 pounds overweight and diabetic.

By September, the endo doc concluded that my results were equivocal for Cushing’s, but she encouraged me to go to Johns Hopkins to the metabolic bone specialist, since there wasn’t another good explanation for my osteoporosis, which had by that time been objectively diagnosed with a bone biopsy.  She felt that she had no choice, clinically, but to treat my osteoporosis as post-menopausal in origin, even though my bone breaks began 8 years ahead of my menopausal symptoms.  Off to Johns Hopkins.

The bone specialist took the history, again . . . did some more testing (blood, saliva, urine, again . . . ) and then consulted with the adrenal team, who agreed with her diagnosis of ACTH-dependent Cushing’s disease.  Unfortunately for all of you who read these bios, it’s more complicated than just Cushing’s, because I had bilateral pulmonary emboili and a DVT in my leg when one of my stress fractures had me on non-weightbearing restrictions for six weeks.  That little incident was also considered a fluke, until about six years later when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition that is also considered to be “rare.”  It is a mouthful to say–antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS).  It’s main risk is hypercoagulability, and its treatment involves lifelong warfarin (brand name Coumadin), which people mostly call a “blood thinner,” although it doesn’t really act that way.

I feel somehow more than lucky to have two fairly uncommon, fairly complicated conditions with fairly scarey treatment options.  I feel like I need a Fairy Goddoctor to be able to properly manage my surgery and treatment, because of the risks associated with drug interactions with the warfarin, the higher risk of clotting that I already have from the APS, which is apparently compounded by Cushing’s, and my understanding that I’m not supposed to be mixing hormones, including steroids, with the warfarin.  Nevertheless, it was good to know so quickly after the MRI that the result was that I flunked that test as well as I had flunked all the others previously.  I thought I was going to have to stress over that for the entire long weekend, but no.  Instead, I pretty much put it out of my mind until tonight, and now you’re getting the Reader’s Digest version of the last 12 years of my medical experience.

The doctors have exhausted my resilience with all of their certainty, which over the years I relied upon to conclude that I was just clumsy and that my weight struggles with those extra 25 pounds that could pack on in a couple of months, especially when I was recuperating from a fracture, without really changing my diet much, were probably associated with my inconsistent sleep and the fact that I will reach for pizza when I am feeling particularly low.  So when I read here and there about the recovery process after surgery and how difficullt and complicated it can be, I have to admit that my first reaction was that I should quit work, take a year off, spend all my money on travel or whatever I would feel like doing, and then just commit suicide and be done with the whole thing.  And that still has a sense of comfort associated with it when I remind myself of what I’m in for for the next maybe couple of years or more in recovery . . . and possible relapse . . .

But I have a 82 year old mother, and I”m her baby, and I witnessed her sorrow when my brother was killed in a motorcycle accident about 18 months ago, and I wouldn’t put her through that again.  Instead, it’s my intention to take as much time off work as possible after surgery to let myself gather my emotional resources and get over the angry, bruised feeling that I have from both diagnostic processes that have lasted over a decade.  I appreciate that this space is here for newbies like myself to say out loud what most of my friends and family either can’t or don’t want to hear.  It doesn’t really matter so much that anyone is listening; I just need to say it.

Cheers!

Laree (who actually has Cushing’s disease, not Laree Martin’s syndrome)

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Angela Marie (Angela M), Undiagnosed Bio

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Growing up I’d always been anywhere from underweight to average with a couple chubby phases in my pre-teens and teens. I actually got into modeling work for nearly 10 years and I found myself having to take time off in 2008..At least I thought it would just be little while. Between anxiety, being fairly active and a high metabolism, I never had trouble losing weight until In 2007 out of nowhere, I found myself rapidly gaining a lot of weight. All together I had gained about 60-70 lbs in well under a year without my diet or lifestyle ever changing and I’d always been a light, picky eater. I went from a usual size 5-7 to 15 or S/M to XL/XXL. I got back into yoga, pilates and even bought a Total Gym. Working out and dieting even I wasn’t losing even so much as water wieght. I was notiing a whole host of new symptoms. From purple stretch marks, gaining weight, my fingers, toes and palms of hands constantly bright red. Weight gain/appearing swollen only in my torso and upper body, to even my features changing. Adema, constantly craving and eating ice. My once heart shaped face was now completely round and full starting from the top of my ears. I appeared more swollen than anything.

My first endo diagnosed me with hypothyroidism. He was the first to suggest Cushings and my first 24 UFC was 4 times higher than normal and the next was slightly above normal. The rest after that were in the normal ranges. Eventually hypothyroidism was ruled out after routine tests came back normal without taking the Synthroid and telling my doctor I was. Once I admitted it, he was so angry I proved him wrong that he dismissed me as a patient.

I was sent to another Endo and a specialist he referred me to. The next endocrinologist ended up being the most arrogant, rude person I’ve ever met and the few appointments I had with him ended up being mostly arguments or me breaking down into full blown panic attacks. The specialist I seen and his fellow who are supposed to be the best in my state initially believed I have Cushings once they went over my symptoms, medical history and photos documenting my physical changes. The specialist and my past endocrinologists even had grand round meetings on my case and still blew me off!

In 2008 I started having fluid/discharge from my right breast and after tons of testing to rule out breast cancer I was sent to surgery to remove the ducts. After this traumatic surgery, I still have fluid and from both breasts now that’s been ongoing for 6 years. Even after expalaining my situation and medical issues, I’m just told to lose weight. I went from completely normal sugar levels to borderline diabetic to “full blown” diabetic within a matter of months at the age of 26. I’ve seen numerous dieticians, nutrition and diabetic classes and no one can figure out why I’m not losing weight doing everything right. I was prescribed Metformin and lost a little over 20 lbs, but it was such a high dose it had to be lowered and I stopped losing any more weight.

Since everything started in 2007 it seems I’m adding more and more symptoms almost monthly to my already too long list with no answers as to why or what is causing them. I’ve done more research than some would consider humanly possible and probably more than some doctors I’ve seen! Reading blogs, forums, bio’s, etc. I can’t believe how many of the same symptoms I have as other patients. Mystery Diagnosis anymore is hard to watch relating so much to the stories I break down crying. The only symptoms I seem to be lacking is the constantly high cortisol, pronounced buffalo hump and thinning skin. Other than that I seem to have every single one, even the rarest or some I’ve never even seen associated. I’ve been offered so many possible diagnosis’, but nothing definitive. Everything from metabolic syndrome and PCOS to auto immune, parathyroid and that’s just your body!

I’ve seen or been pushed off on just about every specialist there is. At least my primary doctor admits there is something serious going on, but it’s over his head. Every single one of my other doctors, PA’s, surgeons or specialists believe I have Cushings, but I need an Endocrinologist to agree.

6 years later I still with labs all over the place, a list of literally 30+ symptoms and health problems because of this mystery disease that’s yet to be diagnosed. My Cortisol tests seem to be back and forth, but mostly showing low. My testosterone, ACTH and Insulin Like Growth Factor are all elevated. My vitamin D and iron are extremely low even with prescription strength vitamins. My white cell count is high enough to be sent to a cancer center to rule out different types of cancer. I was dagnosed with fattly liver disease and no answers as to why. Hair growth on my face and body, acne breakouts worse than I ever had in my teens. Chronic reoccuring skin, bacterial and viral infections.Dark pigmentation under my arms. Excessive sweating to the point my hair is soaked or sweat drips from my face in cool weather or shopping. Severe intolerance to heat. Growths or polyps on different organs without any further testing and more abnormal labs and symptoms than I can keep track of. I’m just at that point where I’m not sure if I give up and let it take me out or just keep searching for that one possible doctor who will listen and order the right tests.

All I know is I’ve lost so much of my life being so sick and disabled. Not working, not even modeling work on the side, no college to work with animals and be a veterinary tech, turning 30 and still not being able to get pregnant, going out and having fun like I should or even recognizing myself in the mirror. Loving swimming and summer, but can’t stand looking at myself or being engaged for over 5 years and pushing off a wedding because I don’t want to walk down the isle like this and look at my wedding photos remembering this time in my life.

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