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Jody (jodiann), Adrenal Bio

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Originally posted January 6, 2008

My mother had Cushing’s Syndrome with pheochromocytomas and had a bilateral adrenalectomy in 1968, but developed pneumonia post surgery and died after 3 months in intensive care.

I have thought that I was starting to develop symptoms and was even see in her endo Dr. for years, but I was always told I was being paranoid. Then in the past ten years I have gotten diabetes, the buffalo hump, put on 100 pounds, sore joints, hypertension, low potassium, high cholesterol etc.

I finally got a CT scan due to shortness of breath, and asthma, and they found bilateral multinodular adrenal hyperplasia.

If it’s not Cushing’s Syndrome, then is there something else adrenal wise it could be? It sure seems like Cushing’s to me.

Update December 30, 2007

I was diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome approx. 3 years ago, after gaining over 100#s, developing diabetes, high blood pressure, fatigue,muscle weakness, moon face,buffalo hump,many tests later,it was discovered that I had bliateral multinodular adrenal hyperplasia,and got the diagnoses finally,,,

my mom died from complications from a bilateral adrenalectomy in 1978,she had Cushing’s syndrome with pheochromocytomas,,so I watched her symptoms develope, and had felt sure that I was getting the same things, and finally it was confirmed,just a little difference in the diagnosis,,

however,I am having a terrible time getting any understandin, sympathy, or belief, from my oldest daughter and her husband. They believe,and tell me often, that all I need to do is diet,and exercise,and I would lose this weight,and look like I used to,,it is so depressing,frustrating,and hurtful,,,

the depression you get with the disease just adds to make me feel worse,,I’m taking an antodepressant, but they brought this up again at Christmas,due to me not wanting them to invite people that I hadn’t seen since before the big wt. gain,and appearance changes,,,I ended up crying most of the afternoon,,and it makes me feel like such a baby,,,,

I’m usually pretty good about not needing any body but myself for support,,but this just really has hurt me. I’m thinking of sending them pictures of patients with the disease that I’ve gotten on the internet,,although the son in law said he had done his own research and found that diet and exercise apparently was all that we needed to do,,,don’t know where he found that info from though,,,

Update January 6, 2008

CUSHING’S SYNDROME

I was finally diagnosed in approx. 2004,after I had developed diabetes,htn.,shortness of breath, IBS, high cholestero,major muscle aches,moon face, buffalo hump,and my hands and feet had actually gone up one ring,and shoe size and also had on-going depression, mood swings, anger issues,I could watch myself gain weight.

I joined curves,went every night after work, and still gained weight,,even after exercise for those three months I never did seem to regain any muscle strength or ability,,I still had trouble getting up from chairs,or walking any distance, unless I was pushing a grocery cart, or a stroller,,,I had trouble even carrying my groceries in from the car,i would be so out of breath,,I had to get a disabled parking sticker so I could get into work,,,as I was so out of breath if I parked in the lot across the street it would take me three stops for breath each day to make it in,,,and tired, I was so tired,,my favorite past time was sleeping,,I could sleep any time, and still be tired.

My mom had died from complications from a bilateral adrenalectomy due to Cushing’s Syndrome in 1978, and I had watched all of the changes she and her body had gone through,and felt sure that I had developed the same things, but I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me,,,until a unrelated chain of events lead to me getting a U/S of my chest, and a sugested follow up,which I got on a larger scale which showed something wrong with my adrenal glands, then an MRI of them revealed bilateral multinodular adrenal hyperplasia,,,and finally I got hooked up with a good endocrinologist,,am now getting better follow-up of my diabetes and am on ketaconazole to suppress the cortisol production,,which has helped somewhat,and is stopping the excess cortisol,and no more weight gain,,,but hasn’t gotten rid of any of the symptoms either.

There are a lot of times that I look in the mirror and wonder where I am, or where the real me went to,,I don’t look like the me that I used to be at all,I have gained over 100lbs.in the past 13 years,,,and the fight against the depression, the muscle aches and pain, and fatigue every day or so exhausting,,my Doctor doesn’t want me to get the adrenalectomy due to the loss of all steroids,and how difficult it is to regulate them after the surgery. He also told me that you lose you fight or flight response because you don’t have any natural adrenaline,so your reaction time is not very good,,,,,and I have three grandkids that I drive iwth and take places,and I am a nurse and have to be able to react fast,,,,I also feel that he doesn’t think that I am a good candidate for surgery.

So there it is,,and here am I,,,trying to deal with everyday life, and the lack of any understading or sympathy from some of my family,as they feel that I have gained this weight on my own, and if I just ” took better care of myself,and got some exercise” I would feel and look better,,,,,,,as if any one would do this to themselves,,,,,,:>( ,,,,,,,,,,oh well,you guys understand at least,,,,,,thanks for listening

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Necessary Silence, Undiagnosed Bio

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question

 

I was researching the term for the corner my spine makes (buffalo hump) because I was chronicling conditions for my Medical Adventures. This lead me into the tumble of discovering Cushing’s symptoms. So many issues began making sense.

Constantly flushed face, hair loss, heavy weight gain, slimmer limbs, rounded face, buffalo hump.

Fear of not being believed by Doctors (fat lady problem) lead me to buy an at-home test for cortisol levels. The result confirmed that something was going on. I took the evidence to my GP and was sent for a blood test and referred to the Endocrinology Clinic. “Oh my goodness. This is going to be so smooth.”

A month later and the Endo people still have not been in touch. Not even a letter!? I know that an appointment will take a while to come around, but I had hoped to be told kinda how long I would have to wait by now. More research in the interim has led me to a personal conclusion that a pituitary tumour (messing with various hormones) is the likely cause. “An MRI please”.

I’ll try to update you but in the meantime more details will be in my Medical Adventures series on https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD8MiGlEkjl3J718VsBZ3tw9YWfOYSGrv

I’ve read a lot of the bios on these Cushing’s sites. There are many accounts without follow-ups and I hope that those people are still fighting for recognition of what is going on.

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Doc Karen, Pituitary and BLA Bio

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Karen’s Story

Life was good! In fact, life was great! I was married to the love of my life. We had a beautiful little girl. My husband and I had both earned our graduate degrees. I earned my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and was growing my clinical practice. I loved my work!

In October, 2006, my life was turned upside down when I gained 30 pounds in 30 days! I knew this was not normal at all. I sought answers but my doctor kept insisting that I wasn’t eating the right foods, that I wasn’t exercising hard enough, and finally that it was genetic. However, I was always a thin person, I ate pretty healthy foods, and I was pretty active. Red flags became even greater when my physician put me on prescription weight loss drugs and I STILL gained another 30 pounds. I knew my body and I knew something was wrong but I had no one to validate what was going on.

In January, 2010, to my surprise, I learned that I was miraculously pregnant with our second daughter. I was so sick during that pregnancy and,  again, my doctors couldn’t figure out why. My OBGYN was very supportive, yet so concerned. Her solution was to put me on bed rest. I became so ill that she told me that “my only job was to sit still and wait to have a baby”. I did give birth to a healthy baby girl four weeks early. Little did I know, then, how much of a miracle she was.

During the latter part of my pregnancy, while flipping through channels on television, I came across a Cushing’s episode on the health TV show, “Mystery Diagnosis”.

 

 

I knew right away that this diagnosis fit everything I had been experiencing: years of weird and unexplained symptoms, gaining 150 pounds for no reason, an onset of diabetes, high blood pressure, and an overall sense of doom.

You see, my friends and family witnessed me go from a vibrant young Clinical Psychologist in practice, to someone whose health deteriorated due to the symptoms of Cushing’s, as I tried for many years to get answers from professionals. As I continued to eat a healthy, 1000 calorie per day diet, engage in exercise with multiple personal trainers, and follow through with referrals to consult with dietitians; I continued to gain weight at a rate of 5 pounds per week and experience rapidly declining health. Finally, after watching that Cushing’s episode of Mystery Diagnosis, I found my answer! Ultimately, I sought the expertise of and treatment from a team of experts at the Seattle Pituitary Center in Seattle, WA. I had brain surgery in Seattle on November 16th, 2011. I want to tell you how I found the people who helped save my life…

On June 9, 2011, I went to my first MAGIC conference. I had never heard of them but someone on one of the online support groups told me about it.  At that time, I was working but was very, very sick. We suspected at that time that I had been sick for years! My local endocrinologist was far from a Cushing’s expert. After watching the Cushing’s episode of Mystery Diagnosis, I told the same endocrinologist who had misdiagnosed me for years that I had found my answer. He swore that there was “literally no possible way that I had Cushing’s Disease!” He stated that my “hump wasn’t big enough”, “my stretch marks were not purple enough” and that “Cushing’s patients do not have children!” I told him that I was NOT leaving his office until he started testing me. He finally caved in. To his surprise, I was getting abnormal labs back.

At that time, there was evidence of a pit tumor but it wasn’t showing up on an MRI. So, I had my IPSS scheduled. An IPSS stands for Inferior Petrosal Sinus Sampling. It is done because 60 % of Cushing’s based pituitary tumors are so small that they do not show up on an MRI. Non Cushing’s experts do not know this so they often blow patients off, even after the labs show a high level of ACTH in the brain through blood work. An overproduction of the hormone ACTH from the pituitary communicates to the adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol. Well, the IPSS procedure is where they put catheters up through your groin through your body up into your head to draw samples to basically see which side of your pituitary the extra hormone is coming from, thus indicating where the tumor is. U of C is the only place in IL that does it.

So, back to the MAGIC convention; my husband and I went to this conference looking for answers. We were so confused and scared!  Everyone, and I mean everyone, welcomed us with opened arms like we were family! There were brilliant presenters there, including an endocrinologist named Dr. William Ludlam. At that time, he was the director at the Seattle Pituitary Center in Seattle, WA. He is a true Cushing’s expert. Since then, he left in January, 2012 to have a significant impact toward the contribution of research of those impacted by Cushing’s Syndrome. His position was taken over by another brilliant endocrinologist, Dr. Frances Broyles.

I was scheduled to get an IPSS at U of C on June 28th, 2011 to locate the tumor. Two days after the IPSS, I began having spontaneous blackouts and ended up in the hospital for 6 days. The docs out here had no clue what was happening and I was having between 4-7 blackouts a day! My life was in danger and they were not helping me! We don’t know why, but the IPSS triggered something! But, no one wanted to be accountable so they told me the passing out, which I was not doing before, was all in my head being triggered by psychological issues. They did run many tests. But, they were all the wrong tests. I say all the time; it’s like going into Subway and ordering a turkey sandwich and giving them money and getting a tuna sandwich. You would be mad! What if they told you, “We gave you a sandwich!” Even if they were to give you a dozen sandwiches; if it wasn’t turkey, it wouldn’t be the right one. This is how I feel about these tests that they ran and said were all “normal”. The doctors kept telling us that they ran all of these tests so they could cover themselves. Yet, they were not looking at the right things, even though, I (the patient) kept telling them that this was an endocrine issue and had something to do with my tumor! Well, guess how good God is?!!!!

You see, Dr. Ludlam had given me his business card at the conference, which took place two weeks prior to the IPSS. I put it away for a while. But, something kept telling me to pull the card out and contact him. I am crying just thinking about it, Lord!

So, prior to my IPSS, I wrote Dr. Ludlam an e mail asking him some questions. At that time, he told me to send him ALL of my records including labs. I sent him 80 pages of records that day.  He called me back stating that he concurred with all of the evidence that I definitely have Cushing’s Disease from a pituitary source. He asked me what I planned to do and I told him that I was having the IPSS procedure done in a few days at the University of Chicago. He told me once I got my results to contact him.

Fast forward, I ended up in the hospital with these blackouts after my IPSS. The doctors, including MY local endocrinologist told me there was no medical evidence for my blackouts. In fact, he told the entire treatment team that he even doubted if I even had a tumor! However, this is the same man who referred me for the IPSS in the first place! I was literally dying and no one was helping me! We reached out to Dr. Ludlam in Seattle and told him of the situation. He told me he knew exactly what was going on. For some reason, there was a change in my brain tumor activity that happened after my IPSS. No one, to this day, has been able to answer the question as to whether the IPSS caused the change in tumor activity. The tumor, for some reason, began shutting itself on and off. When it would shut off, my cortisol would drop and would put me in a state of adrenal insufficiency, causing these blackouts!

Dr. Ludlam said as soon as we were discharged, we needed to fly out to Seattle so that he could help me! The hospital discharged me in worse condition then when I came in. I had a blackout an hour after discharge! But get this…The DAY the hospital sent me home saying that I did not have a pit tumor, my IPSS results were waiting for me! EVIDENCE OF TUMOR ON THE LEFT SIDE OF MY PITUITARY GLAND!!!

Two days later, Craig and I were on a plane to Seattle. I had never in my life been to Seattle, nor did I ever think I would go. We saw the man that God used to save my life, Dr. William Ludlam, the same man who we had met at the MAGIC conference for the first time one month prior! He put me on a combo of medications that would pull me out of crisis. Within one month, my blackouts had almost completely stopped! Unfortunately, we knew this was a temporary fix! He was treating me to carry me over to surgery. You see, his neurosurgeon, Dr. Marc Mayberg was just as amazing. He is one of the top neurosurgeons in the US! Statistically, he has one of the highest success rates!

The problem was that our insurance refused to pay for surgery with an expert outside of IL, stating that I could have surgery anywhere in IL! Most people don’t know that pituitary surgeries are very complicated and need the expertise of a “high volume center” which is where they do at least 50 of these surgeries per year. Dr. Mayberg has performed over 5,000 of these surgeries!  By this time, we had learned that we need to fight for the best care! It was what would give me the best chance at life! We thought I would have to wait until January when our insurance would change, to see if I could get the surgery I so desperately needed! I was holding on by a thread!

We began appealing our insurance. At the time the MAGIC foundation had an insurance specialist who was allowed to help us fight our insurance. Her name is Melissa Callahan and she took it upon herself to fight for us as our patient advocate. It was a long and hard battle! But…we finally WON!!!! On November 16th, 2011, Dr. Marc Mayberg found that hidden tumor on the left side of my pituitary gland! He removed the tumor along with 50% of my pituitary gland.

Recovery was a difficult process. They say that it takes about one full year to recover after pituitary surgery for Cushing’s. I was grateful to be in remission, nonetheless. However, about one year after my brain surgery, the Cushing’s symptoms returned. After seven more months of testing that confirmed a recurrence of the Cushing’s, I was cleared for a more aggressive surgery. This time, I had both of my adrenal glands removed as a last resort. By then, we had learned that I had hyperplasia, which is an explosion of tumor cells in my pituitary. It only takes one active cell to cause Cushing’s. Therefore, I could have potentially had several more brain surgeries and the disease would have kept coming back over and over.

As a last resort, my adrenal glands were removed so that no matter how much these cells try to cause my adrenals to produce excessive amounts of cortisol; the glands are not there to receive the message. As a result, I am Adrenally Insufficient for life, which means that my body cannot produce the life sustaining hormone, cortisol, at all. I had my Bilateral Adrenalectomy by world renowned BLA surgeon, Dr. Manfred Chiang, in Wisconsin on August 21st, 2013. I traded Cushing’s Disease for Addison’s Disease, one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my life. However, I knew that I would die with Cushing’s. Recovery from my last surgery was difficult and involved weaning down to a maintenance dose of steroid to replace my cortisol. Now, on a maintenance dose; I still have to take extra cortisol during times of physical or emotional stress to prevent my body from going into shock.

I promised a long time ago that I would pay it forward…give back because so much has been given to me. This is why I have committed my life to supporting the Cushing’s community. I post videos on YouTube as a way of increasing awareness. My channel can be found at http://www.YouTube.com/drnkarenthames

Additionally, I am working on a Cushing’s documentary. Please like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Hug.A.Cushie

Thank you for taking the time to read my story!

Karen has made 2 videos about her experiences with Cushing’s:

 

and

Doc Karen will be our guest in an interview on BlogTalk Radio  Friday December 2 at 11:00 AM eastern.  The Call-In number for questions or comments is (323) 642-1665 .

The archived interview will be available through iTunes Podcasts (Cushie Chats) or BlogTalkRadio.  While you’re waiting, there are currently 90 other past interviews to listen to!

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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Jennifer M’s Daughter, Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed6

Hello
My daughter has recently been tested for cushings syndrome. She is nine years old.

when she was 5 years old she went completely blind and forgot everything. her OT thinks it might have been a mini stroke. The doctors could not find anything wrong with her. She always had a desteneded belly the doctors told me it was constipation. this year in Feburary she developed a buffalo hump. the doctors told me she had a flesh eating bacteria. I took her to the hospital they told me it was scoliosis.

After fighting with a doctor I was finally refered to Pittsburgh childrens Hospital. I was seen by an onocologist. He ran the cortisol test we are still waiting to hear the results.

When I was a child in 3rd grade I went from a size 7slim to a 16 plus in one year. I also have cognitive delays. we both suffer from migerains and other people in my family have the depression. my cousin had some rare bird disease and my mom had the diabetes high blood pressue and died of small cell carcinoma. If it wasn’t for the buffalo hump I would have never known that this condition existed.

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Ryley (Sunshine), Possible Adrenal Bio

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golden-oldie

 

A Golden Oldie originally from Monday, November 17, 2008

I am currently in diagnosis – Finally got fed up and met with an endo. who is wonderful – she let it slip that she thinks that my problems are not only associated with my thyroid (hypo) but that I have an adrenal problem. She set up a myriad of tests which I have subsequently completed (in a record two days) and have done what one should NEVER do – go look up symptoms on line.

I have ALL of the sympoms for a Cushie – from the over emotional bit to the hump – Just Lovely! I just wanted to drop a note as I am feeling very overwhelmed by all of this. I realize that I have not been diagnosed, am only at the testing phase and should just calm down and be rational but it is harder than it appears.

I am alone with this and it is freaking me out. My family is in another state, and, when I talk to them I feel I need to put on a brave face, I always have when major issues occur, don’t know why I do, I just do. I know that if I asked a family member to come to me they would, no questions asked but then I know they would just be watching me like a hawk the whole time for G-d knows what to happen.

All of your posts have been extremely helpful to me and are helping me to bolster my spirits. It is heartening to know that I am not a crazy person and that there are support systems out there for us. I will write again when I get a diagnosis – Hoping for the best!!
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Kali, Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed3

 

Hi Everyone,

My name is Kali, I’m 20 years old and I’ve been on this journey for a year and a half now. Before this all started I was petite 5’3″ and 123lbs at my heaviest, I was incredibly active, I played multiple sports including soccer, ringette and swimming and I worked out 4-6 times a week. I stumbled across this wonderful website last night after becoming so frustrated with the way I have been treated and bounced around from doctor to doctor. Honestly reading some of your stories is like reading my own. I’m hoping someone will be able to reach out and send some advice my way.

This all started last year when I noticed all of a sudden my regular work out routine had become extremely difficult my legs fatigued quickly and my heart started racing just walking. I went to my GP who said I was having panic attacks while walking around. I of course said this wasn’t possible and left discouraged. 3 days later I ended up in the ER due to a racing heart rate at over 180bpm while lying down.

Now fast forward 6 months, 7 rounds of blood work and 5 appointments with 2 cardiologists and everything came back normal. I was fed up. I now couldn’t even walk up a set of stairs without becoming fatigued and working out was no longer in the picture at all. I even found getting out of bed in the morning difficult. The doctors all said it was in my head, it was anxiety, I needed to push through and everything would get better. Funny thing was I used exercise to deal with my anxiety for many years and I knew this wasn’t anxiety.

I honestly ended up no where and sort of gave up. Some doctors thought it was hyperthyroidism, 1 thought Wolff-Parkinsons White but everything came back normal and they all settled on a diagnoses of anxiety and I was prescribed multiple different anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications which my stubborn self refused to take. I accepted that I couldn’t work out or run or be who I used to be and I focused on school and tried yoga, light jogging and small sessions of weight lifting instead of intense gym work outs.

Now we fast forward another 2 months or so. I started craving sugary foods, I had never had a sweet tooth before I never even used to like chocolate and all of a sudden it was all I wanted. I developed a lot of back pain between my shoulder blades and I just assumed this was all because of upcoming exams, bad posture and just life. I really shouldn’t have.

4 more months go by and I went home after school finished. My mom immediately said I had gained weight. I mean I had noticed some of my clothes were tighter but I figure I just accidentally put them in the dryer. 2 weeks later. Nothing fit. I had outgrown all of my clothes in just over a month. When I stepped on the scale I thought it was broken. I had gained over 30 pounds in less than a month. 123 – 156lbs. My face was puffy and red with acne, I had a huge hump between my shoulders. My breasts doubled in size, my stomach was huge but my arms and legs were normal. I immediately went to a new doctor recommended by a friend and she agreed something wasn’t right and sent me straight out for some bloodwork. But of course…. everything came back normal. I even did a dexamethasone suppression test which too came back normal.

I have all the trademark signs of cushings syndrome. Round red face, buffalo hump, bruising easily, unexplained weight gain primarily in the face and abdomen, purple stretch marks on breasts and thighs, muscle weakness, tired all the time, heart palpitations, increased thirst and sweating. But I cannot get a positive diagnoses to save my life. I don’t know what to do. Not 1 doctor has been able to make 2 + 2 = 4 and I’m so upset. I hate looking in the mirror, I hate waking up with 0 energy and no clothes to wear everyday. I’ve seen 3 doctors, 2 cardiologists a nurse practitioner, an endocrinologist who didn’t even give me the time of day with my normal results and I’m scheduled to see an Internist in about a week. Should I just ask him to send me for an MRI? I feel like that is my only option left.

If anyone has any suggestions of what direction I should pursue that would be much appreciated. It’s hard to fight for yourself when you’re the only one on your side.

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