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Danielle, Undiagnosed (Cyclical Cushing’s)

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May-Aug 2013 Age 17-18

I started noticing that i was losing weight. My arms and legs looked like toothpicks and i had bruises everywhere. i was fairly active i would run and lift weights everyday minus some weekends. Till i couldnt no more. I became very very weak, i was tired and fatigued all the time no matter how much sleep i got. I would wake up 5-8 times a night to pee, i was constantly hungry. Omgsh never not hungry i could eat and eat and eat but i still wasnt big. I was “too skinny”. My hair started to fall out in clumps , i would get these attacks where i would have insane blurry vision, i would become super pale and my stomach would blow up like a balloon. i would have terrible back and stomach pains , ringing in my ears.I would started shaking,my speech would become slurred and all over the place. I would not be able to walk straight or think clearly. I was very scared and i hated everytime these would happen. They usually hit the more active i was. so if i would run or even jog/ walk for more than 15 min it would hit. i became scared of doing anything

More symptoms: Constipation
drooling
Muscles felt like they were eating them selves
terrible headaches
no period
thirsty!!!!!
Constant! urination
muscle twitches
muscle spasms and jerks
waking up every hour
terrible acid reflux! it would wake me up

SEPT 2013
weight 115-120lbs

I started working for my father at his shop in sept 2013.I did not last very long. I got to the point where i was dying. I was sick every week, my periods had stopped , i would spot every day. I couldnt think AT ALL i felt so stupid. Like i was in a haze , i started getting really bad hypoglycemea ,which made things even worse. Despite eating so much food it would not go away.
I should mention my moods, I have always been more aggressive and loud happy go getter, i noticed that i was extremely irritable.. and jumpy all the time. I would cry for no reason and my anxiety was getting worse and my anger was like never before. One day after days and days of struggling to work, i went to the grocery store with my father , and i was not able to push the shopping cart, i almost fainted and had to have him take me to the car. Mind u my whole family knows me as “the strong one” . I was benching 220 lbs at 14, now i couldnt push a shopping cart. He couldnt believe it and i stopped working a week later. I had too many things going on i knew i had to get them sorted before i could go back to work and then go to collage.

I went to the doc who sent me to an Endocrinologist. She tested me,
LOW GH
LOW FSH
LOW THYROID
HIGH URINE OUTPUT
LOW LH

At this point i just wanted to get fixed. She told me i had to gain weight in order for my sex hormones to bump up and maybe id feeel a bit better. So i docs orders and started to eat, when ever i was hungry.. which was alot.
i came back to see her a month later, and i had gained 35 lbs!My skin was not as dry, still bruising,and terrible headaches but i had way more energy. I thought i was getting better. Little did i know my tests did not show that. I had cortisol levels 7x the normal limit, my urine out put was very high. I did a 24 hour urine test an filled 3 jugs. She suggested maybe diabetes insipidus and also.. a brain tumor. I was kinda freaked when i heard the word tumor but i just wanted to feel normal . As long as i could get help i didnt care.

2014
i did another dex which came back positive for cushings, i had to do one more and my tests suddenly dropped again. After a few more dexa tests coming back neg she ended up dismissing me and told me that i do not have cushings.

Note: I Did have a neg Pituitary mri
and adrenal

I was heartbroken . i thought that this was my way out to finally feel normal or at least ok.
She sent me to another endo who refused to see me. So i started seeing a naturopath, i spent 800$ the first day of seeing her and all those natural supps, dieting recommendations she gave me did not do a thing. TMI I also went to get a colonic and colonoscopy around this time because i just could not go . And i was pooping out blood.They said everything was okay and that it may have been hemmeroids.

2015
Specialists:
ENDO
E.N.T
Nephrologist

My family doctor suggested maybe i have fibro.. then celiac.. then hashimotos.. then maybe MS? She finally sent me to ANOTHER Endo after those tests were NEG , who said he could not help me the first day of meeting him. During this time i was devloping social anxiety .It was very hard for me to talk to people which isnt like me at all. Seeing as i was a social butterfly.My face would go beat red after any little stress i had. i hated it! i had been seeing and E.N.T because i was coughing out blood. They told me i had cysts in my nasal passages and it was nothing to worry about. And that i also have damage in my esophagus due to the acid . She prescribed me Tecta.I even saw a nephrologist because i was constantly thirsty and constantly urinating. He was the worst doc i have ever seen. He told me i knew too much and i walked out because he could not help me.My energy levels were erratic. Some days i would have so much energy and clean clean clean want to run and do everythiing! , other days i would get out of bed and crash very quickly.This was becoming a burden.

2016 Aged :21
Still trying to get help
moved
weight: 165 (gained)
Specialists: Sleeping
Neuro

I became very frustrated and sad of always being let down and disapointed by all these doctors. I kind of gave up for a bit.i saw two last specialists which were sleeping specialist and a neurologist . which did nothing but prescribe me sleeping pills for my insomnia.The neuro did tell me that the symptoms i am having were not caused by cushings, so he started me on topiramate. An antiepileptic drug.

I finally contacted a pituitary specialist downtown toronto. And thank the heavens ! i got an answer! CYCLICAL cushings. He told me im 99% to have cushings i just need one more biochemical confirmation. He have me a T3 MRI of my pituitary which show an enlargment right side pituitary. “One more test and we can go in there and operate” i was ecstatic! so happy to have finally found someone who can help me.

i tested and tested but my results came back Neg, or just a little bit higher. a few months later He told me that he will keep testing me but he does not think it is cushings anymore. Another heartbreak ūüė¶

2017
moved again
aged 21
Specialists:ENDO

I now have another dexa test and a 24 hour urine.I need this last one and they will operate . during this i am trying to move out to ANY cheap apartment because my father does not help me at all. He makes me much worse and i have no where to go other than his place. He is a big burden and does not understand what im going through at all, i have had two hospital visits this year due to overdose. This is something that i thought i would never do in my entire life, but it happened. I can not handle living like this especially when i have someone putting me down and denying my disease everyday. I am seeing a therapist now and a psychiatrist but the pills they give me do not help when i cannot live my life or work through any of my problems. I have gone to a shelter but this disease does not make it easy for me to live there.I only have my partner helping me right now . ANY donations would be greatly appreciated. !!!!!!!

this is my go fund me to help me get out of here in the mean time.
Thank you so much for reading my story and anyone,, feel free to email me or ask me questions.
i am i gona keep this updated when i go to docs or get any new info

 

Please email Danielle for the URL to her GoFundMe Page

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Terri (Terri), Adrenal Bio

1 Comment

adrenal-location

 

I started having issues in my 30’s. I noticed my skin getting splotchy and my periods became horribly painful and irregular. I had migraines and started gaining weight. I went to my doctor who said I was just getting older (again 30ish). The weight kept creeping on, the periods got worse. Again I asked my doctor , again it’s part of aging. This went on for years. I finally changed doctors and ended up with a hysterectomy, the doctor assured me this would fix things. It didn’t.

A year after the hysterectomy I get my first ambulance ride from my doctors office to the ER. They thought it was my appendix . The ER found nothing so they sent me home. I have sever nausea I , body shaking chills and sever side pains. They sent me to a gastroenterologist who ran tons of test and found nothing. BUT as they were reviewing my latest test results by phone the mentioned that my adrenal cyst hadn’t grown any. I said what adrenal cyst? They said throne that was in the ER report. This had never been disclosed to me. They referred me to a urologist? I skipped the urologist and looked for a endocrinologist. My symptoms had multiplied in this time. I now had a fuzzy face, fuzzy vision, more weight and stomach tenderness to the point it hurt to wear some clothes.

I saw my endocrinologist and he ran a ton of test and came back with Cushings. I just finished my second MRI, this time they are looking for a pituitary tumor. I am waiting for results to see if I have the pituitary issue as well as the adrenal gland cyst. Apparently my adrenal cyst was large enough to cause cancer concerns , but luckily doesn’t act like cancer. Happy that! I am now in my 40’s and it has taken eight years to get a diagnosis or someone to take me seriously! So don’t take NO for an answer!

 

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Chelsea, Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed2

 

Hello Cushing’s world! My names is Chelsea. I’m 23, female and waiting for a possible Cushing’s diagnosis. I’m trying to see if anyone has a similar story to mine? I’ve had a hard time finding people in my age bracket with similar symptoms or test results.

Up until I was 21, I was 110 pounds soaking wet. I’m 5’3 and have always been extremely active. I was on the USTA junior tennis circuit for 15 years and then started coaching when I was in college. I also was always on a high protein, low card diet for the majority of my life.

I also went on birth control at age 13 and stayed on it until I was 20. The first 6 months off of birth control, I never had a period but I assumed it was normal after being on the pill for so long so I didn’t worry about it.

Then, about 3 and half years ago, roughly six months after I turned 20, I gained 45 pounds in a matter of 5 months. Completely unexplained when, at the time I was coaching a JV tennis team and in kickboxing class twice a week. Obviously I was utterly shocked and disappointed. I started trying to lose the weight. I cut down from 1500 calories a day to 1200 and amped up my cardio routine.

My period had come back, but I started noticing that it would always come about 8-10 days after I expected it to come. Again, I assumed my body was just getting back into the swing of things after going off the pill.

During all of this, it was time for my yearly physical with my GP. I went to the appointment, had weight and height taken, and was ready to discuss with him the weight problem I got in what seemed like overnight. After walking him through my diet and exercise routine and mentioning my period irregularity, he simply insinuated that I was probable a closet over eater and said “Just eat more celery”.

Still to this day I can not look at celery without my blood boiling. He also said that once I lose the weight, my periods will get normal. Ok. I’m 20 at the time and a little na√Įve in my thinking that, “he’s the doctor, he must be right”. So I pressed on in my quest to lose the weight. To no avail. Instead, every Wednesday when I stepped on the scale, it showed that I had gained a pound of two.

At this point I’m weighing in at 158. Not grossly overweight but also not a healthy BMI. I also started noticing that my once long, strong jaw line was turning into mush and seriously thought I needed a chin implant. Then I noticed that I was starting to oddly resemble a linebacker. The fat on my back between my shoulders came out of no where. I have worn a scarf almost every day since to hide it. I also noticed that, while the sleeves in my shirts were fitting fine, my pants were not buttoning and I could no longer wear my mid-drift bearing tops without looking at myself and crying.

The depression began to set in. I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18 due to boughts of depression followed by highly elevated mood, never quite reaching mania. Also, I was anxious 24/7. I never took antidepressants. Only a mild mood stabilizer and still do to this day. It is the only medication I’m on.

Back to age 20, the next thing I noticed was that I could no longer bear going to school, coaching tennis, and working part time. It was everything I could do to just get out of bed. My back ached, my knees ached, and I was not even recognizing myself in the mirror. As my mother puts it, I started looking like I was stung my a thousand bees rather than putting on weight.

It was about this time, age 21 that I had skin problems. So I went to the dermatologist who diagnosed me with mild eczema on my elbows and tops of my hands. But it hurt. I couldn’t and still can’t stand for my hands to come in contact with anything hotter than warm bath water.

It then came time for my annual gyno appointment. Again, I rehashed everything I had been feeling and noticing and again, I was told it was just “life stress” and to “learn to relax and work hard to lose the weight”. So again, I left feeling like it was all in my head. The next few months is when I started noticing that I was not functioning like I used to. The comment I often made to my mom was ” I just feel like I’m on autopilot all day. Everything seems so hazy.” She began thinking I may have a thyroid problem.

SO I made another appointment with my GP and brought her with me. He adamantly insisted it was in my head and would not order blood work. Again, I left feeling like this was all my fault. A few months later, I accepted a job after graduation and moved to Boston. This is when I first noticed the disgusting black mustache that had taken up residence above my upper lip. I began having to shave it every day and decided well this must have something to do with my period problem, that was still coming farther and farther apart every couple of cycles. Again, more weight gain.

Finally, I hired a personal trainer and nutritionist. I met with the trainer twice a week and the nutritionist once a week. I kept up with this regime for about 11 months. I lost a grand total of…… four pounds. I was defeated to say the least.

During those 10 months I noticed that my vision was so blurry. Every day all day, it was slightly fuzzy but there would be instances where it would get so bad, I could no longer read my phone. I had been diagnosed with refractive amblyopia when I was 5 ( a non-wandering lazy eye) but I had never had blurry vision before. I decided to find a GP in Boston and made an appointment.

I yet again, went through my whole list of symptoms that I had been gradually wracking up over the last two years and again, heard “you need to just try harder to get the weight off and then everything will go back to normal”. UGH. I thought by choosing a female doctor this time that I’d hear something at least a little more hopeful. But no.

A few months later, I took a job with a great company and relocated to Houston. It was this time last year and I had completely missed a period. 84 days with no period. I decided to get serious. I starting tracking my cycle and recording my weight. I met with another GP. Again, I heard, you need to lose the weight. I was done. I resolved that this must be how I was going to spend my life. Fat, achy, depressed, most probably infertile, and going through life in a haze. However, I kept tracking my periods just so I’d get an idea of when to expect them.

Then, in October of 2015, I accepted a dream promotion and relocated to Seattle. I had started having hot flashes in Houston but guessed that it had to just be that Texas heat. However, they continued in Seattle. I was still living life with the sense that maybe all people feel like me. Maybe all people have aches and pains and can’t muster up the energy to do tasks as simple and mundane as cleaning the coffee pot.

Then, I went home over Christmas where I experienced the three most awful hot flashes of my life. My whole body started tingling, I felt like I was being held up to a fire. I resolved then and there that when I got back to Seattle, I was making a gyno appointment and I was not going to leave that office until the doctor thoroughly listened to me and blood work was ordered. I had a “don’t take no for an answer attitude”.

Luckily, by God’s grace I presume, I didn’t need that attitude. My new gyno is now my hero. Immediately after I went through the last three years of my symptoms, he sent me for blood work. He was thinking PCOS or a thyroid problem. Maybe both. A week went by and I never heard from him. He had said he’d call in two days. Finally, after I called the office about 5 times, he called and said he was sorry to keep me in suspense but that he had never seen blood work like mine. He was expecting to see either my thyroid levels elevated or my testosterone/androgen elevate. Instead, those were all in normal range. What wasn’t in normal range was my moderately elevated Prolactin level and my “through the roof” DHEA level. He had consulted four other doctors who were all just as puzzled as he was and recommended he refer me to a medical endo.

In the meantime, I had made an appointment with a new GP. I went to that appointment two days after my gyno called with my test results. I didn’t mention that conversation with my new GP. I wanted to see what her opinion was when I presented her with my symptoms and test results. She too thought PCOS with symptoms but when she looked at my blood work said ” I have no idea but something is not right”. SCORE! I couldn’t have been happier.

After years of feeling crazy and lazy and defeated, I had validation that my body was working against me. She didn’t come out and say “I believe you have Cushing’s” but she did say “When you see the endo, please ask him about Cushing’s”. My guess is, she didn’t want to make that kind of diagnosis. I got my referral to endo and called to make the appointment, it’s for next week. And I found out my gyno had written “possible Cushing’s?” on my referral. So now I’m anxiously awaiting my endo consultation. His assistant called yesterday and asked why no one had order a pituitary MRI yet. I told her that these were the first two doctors out of 7 that I have seen in the past two years who ever even believed something was wrong. She decided we should do the consultation and go from there. Weird to say, but I really hope it is a cut and dry endocrine issue. Then I’d have a real answer. So now, I’m at 173 pounds, 5’3, (obese as I have been told by several non Seattle physicians), with stage 1 hypertension and a multitude of symptoms that I hope are all linked together.

If anyone has had a similar experience, please reach out. I know this is different for every patient but any kind of similarity will be welcomed while I anxiously await the endo appointment next week.

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Stephanie (Steph), Undiagnosed Bio

3 Comments

undiagnosed2

Hi. My name Steph, and this has been a long journey for me so far, and I see a long road ahead. Hopefully their will be a rainbow once all these clouds have melted away.

I just turned 33 years old (this month) and have been dealing with symptoms of Cushing’s since I was a pre-teen without even knowing it. I was diagnosed (or possibly mis-diagnosed) with PCOS when I was about 11. That’s when the irregular (to almost non-existent) menstrual cycles, hirutism (chin, upper lip, upper and lower thighs, fingers, toes, basically everywhere) and weight problems began. I was immediately put on birth control to regulate my periods, which only made my life a living nightmare. They forced on a fake (non-ovulating) period and made my moods a disaster. I went on to be on birth control until from the age of 11 until about 3 years ago when I just couldn’t take it anymore, and took myself off. I’ve been using herbal supplements for menstrual regulalation since then, and feel MUCH better.

Over the years I’ve always felt like there was something “more than PCOS” wrong with me. From the extreme inability to lose weight normally, and the ease to gain it, to the weak legs, vitamen d insuffeciency, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, extreme irritability, now non-existent cycle, shortness of breath (just from walking up 1 flight of stairs), slow healing, hoarse voice, high testosterone, male pattern baldness, blurry vision, EXTREME brain fog etc….. It has been very, very, very tough and emotional over the years. It has taken a toll on my personality, emotions, and those around me….

The way that I found out about cushing’s is rather unique. I was on a popular PCOS message board site called “soul cysters”, and I have always been EXTREMELY self conscience of my round puffy face, and was wondering if it could be a side effect of PCOS. So I searched Puffy face on the message board to see if others on the board had experienced it, and sure enough Cushing’s came up, and a suprising number of women either had both (cushing’s and PCOS) or had been mis-diagnosed, which apparently is very common with cushing’s. it was like a gigantic light bulb went off in my head when I started googling cushings symptoms. All these things that I have been experiencing almost my entire life started coming together. I’m really not crazy!! Everything is possibly related. Im almost 100% sure that this is it!!! I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, as I see that cushing’s is curable in most cases, but it is also scary, and diagnosing it seems like hell!!

I have began my -already slow- journey to diagnosis. And, the the Dr.’s don’t seem to be all that well informed. However, I am DETERMINED. I am excited at the thought of possibly being able to get my life back through surgery or meds. I went to a well respected Endo in my area, and she is gonna test all of my hormones, including my cortisol level. Though she didn’t seem to be too informed on Cushing’s when I brought it up, along with my “dead ringer” symptoms. I’m going to a pulmonologist on the 29th as suggested by my GP (who also thinks I have cushings, but admits he’s not well informed enough or equipped to diagnose). I’m also going to an OBGYN soon (tried going to one today, and had to walk out because it was such a bad experience). But I am determined to get 2nd, 3rd, and however many opinions are needed until I am satisfied.

Also, on a side note, possibly having cushing’s, along with having PCOS, has made me look at the doctors and the medical profession as a whole in a different light. I feel like if you find a genuinely good doctor who listens, cares, takes you seriously, and is willing to test you without question, and work with you, your levels, and your symptoms, you are blessed!! I have had so many doctors try to push meds down my throat (for their own pockets/greed obviously) when it wasn’t needed or necessary without hesitation or question. And, then when I tell them that the medicine is affecting me adversely, they just tell me to keep taking it! It’s sad and ridiculous. I’ve had to learn to do my own research, know my own body well, and trust my own judgement…..

I will be praying for myself and everyone on this message board who has had to deal with this horrific symptoms over the years.

Updates coming…..

interview

Stephanie was our guest in an interview on BlogTalk Radio  Wednesday, April 29 at 6:00 PM eastern.

The archived interview is¬†available now¬†through iTunes Podcasts¬†(Cushie Chats) or BlogTalkRadio. ¬†While you’re waiting, there are currently 82 other past interviews to listen to!

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Don S (Don S), Undiagnosed Bio

1 Comment

My name is Don.  I am 35and I am a career firefighter with 14 years on the job.

10 years ago I was injured badly at a fire and almost immediately noticed a change.  My skin began peeling off and I began gaining weight.

I knew about cortisol and its effect on the body because my mother passed away from Cushings at 46 after years of taking steroids for respiratory problems.  My doctors dismissed my issues as stress following the trauma.  My accident happened in March and by July, I had gained  80lbs.  I was constantly fatigued and developed acne all over my body.

A year or so later, I began having stomach issues.  Nausea and Reflux were with me everyday.   I continued to have high serum cortisol throughout the past 10 years but each time, it suppressed to just below the 1.8 threshold with dexamethasone so my doctors just dismissed it as stress.

In 2012, the dizziness and blurry vision began.  My spine is weak and my joints hurt constantly.  My legs are so skinny and weak, they shake when I stand and my heart races from any exertion.  I managed to continue working until a year ago when I accepted that I was putting myself and others at risk.

For the past year I have been paying guys to work for me in order to keep my job and insurance.  I worked hard for this career and promotions and I will not give it up without a diagnosis and confirmation that I can no longer do the job.

I have a new Endo now and she ordered a Urinary Cortisol.  It came back 4X higher than the upper limit.  She is convinced I have Cushings and it isnt just stress.  I have the following symptoms.  Weight gain of over 100lbs, Long purple stretch marks on my flank, side, and groin, Blurry vision, tachycardia, weak limbs, tremors, anxiety, puffy face, dizziness, stomach issues.

I am hoping after 10years of suffering, I may finally have my answer and that I can begin getting my life back.  I have a wife and 3 year old that really count on me and all I have been doing is letting them down.  Our lives are on hold because we do not know what the future will bring.

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Trent, Undiagnosed Bio

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A Golden Oldie

My Comments: Onset symptoms: headaches, low back pain, diarrhea, fatigue, muscle/joint pain, memory loss, weight gain in abdomen, bloaded red face, & blurred vision.

Ongoing symptoms: right flank pain (just underneath ribs), stretch marks on stomach and back of upper arms (not purple), impotence, blurred vision, dry/itchy eyes, insomnia, fatigue, muscle joint pain, memory loss, fat around abdomen & face.

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Sherry, Undiagnosed Bio

1 Comment

A Golden Oldie

I am a Veteran who goes to the Veteran Clinic for my healthcare.  I have been going there for a little over a year.  I go to a womens clinic for both my primary care and gyn.

Backing up a bit…Since my youngest son who is turning 18 next month was about 3, I recall the onset of many of the symptoms of Cushing’s Disease. ¬†However, I didn’t realize what was going on. I believe a lot of my symptoms started when I fell down backwards down a flight of stairs breaking my elbow and wrist. ¬†I really haven’t been the same since. I have slowly put on 120 pounds over the years, all of it being in my mid-section. ¬†I have suffered off and on migrane headaches. My arms and legs are thin as rails compaired to my mid body. ¬†My skin has gotten transparent and dry. ¬†I have the thick cushion of fat tissue between my shoulder blades.

Then in 2007 I had a severe hysterectomy due to massive bleeding/clotting and cysts. ¬†I had serious complications which include blood clots in my legs and also a PE. ¬†I have gone down hill from there. ¬†My bones, muscles and joints ache so bad and can barely get up and down. ¬†I can’t hardly stand more then a few minutes at a time. I have fluid retention so bad that my current doctor finally put me on lasix daily. Finally I suffer from depression and anxiety and I hate to go out in public because of my condition. ¬†Though my husband gets frustrated with me he is still very protective of me and helps.

I have had so many doctors imply  that my problems are phycological or due to my obesity and I am simply tired of that.  I am on 17 medications now due to blood pressure, fluid retenstion, thyroid, diabetes, neuropathy, depression and anxiety, cholesterol and to insure against a heart attack.

I am 52 years old and I feel like my life is coming to an end. ¬†I just recently was reassigned to another primary doctor as my old one left the clinic. ¬†I didn’t like her at first, her personality was so different from my last doctor. ¬†But Friday she did a completed physical and gyn exam. ¬†She asked me if I had ever been diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease. ¬†I had never heard of this disease. ¬†She started pointing out all the classic signs. She decided she wanted me to have a blood test and was very determined I had it done. ¬†I went home and researched it and indeed I have all but maybe one of the symptoms.

I am a little bit nervous about it and realize its a waiting game as far as tests and more test. ¬†On the other hand I feel like I can finally put a name to what’s been going on and hopefully feel better. ¬†I am glad I found this support group and would enjoy talking to others

UPDATE March 6, 2012: Also, additional systems include excessive hair growth on my face, foggy vision, inability to concentrate, red patchy marks on my arms and I have been told I am slightly bi-polar as well at suffering from anxiety and depression.

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