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Danielle G, Pituitary Bio

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The pituitary gland

 

During pregnancy it’s expected for women to gain weight and sometimes struggle to lose it after giving birth.

Danielle Gselmann felt her health dramatically deteriorate five years ago, soon after she found out she was pregnant.

The Gold Coast mother had suddenly gained more than 20kg, found herself losing hair, constantly breaking bones and struggling to sleep.

Making matters worse, the young mother became severely depressed and noticed an unusual-looking ‘hump’ on her back.

Danielle went with her personal trainer husband Dean to get checked out and doctors assured her she was fine, claiming the symptoms were related to her pregnancy.

However, Dean was not convinced of the diagnosis because Danielle continued to eat healthy and work out but was still feeling terrible.

After piecing her symptoms together and doing extensive research, Dean believed Danielle was suffering from Cushing’s disease.

They went to a specialist to confirm Dean’s hunch and their worst fears were realised.

According to the Healthline, Cushing’s disease is caused by a tumour on the pituitary gland in the brain. This tumour then produces an abnormally high level of the hormone cortisol.

It is an extremely rare disease, affecting 10 to 15 people per million each year.

Speaking to Sunshine Coast Daily, Danielle said the disease affected her everyday life and took a dramatic toll on her family, causing her to miss out on watching her son grow.

‘Physically my body broke down…mentally I went numb,’ she said.

‘It affected everything…I missed so many moments because I can’t remember any of it’.

On July 19 Danielle had brain surgery and had the non-cancerous tumour successfully removed.

However, it will take two years for her pituitary gland to function on its own once again, and is warned she may continue to experience the harsh symptoms.

She was prescribed steroids to help manage the dramatic change her body has to cope with low cortisol levels, the publication reported.

The Gselmann’s now hope to raise awareness of the rare disease.

They have also launched a GoFundMe page requesting support for the family to look after Danielle as she recovers.

From https://en.brinkwire.com/news/gold-coast-mother-diagnosed-with-cushings-disease/

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Pam M (mapgirl23), Undiagnosed Bio

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I am the mother of an 18 year old daughter who I suspect has Cushing’s. Kristy was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome when she was in the 5th grade. She suffers from mild to severe motor tics.

Fast forward to the end of her Freshman year and high school when she started to develop depression, anxiety and unexplained episodes of vomiting along with rash covering her entire body which the doctors just said was eczema She also developed stretch marks all over her breast, abdomen and thighs. I asked the dermatologist and she said she was just growing. She was the same size she had been for the last 2 years and was actually losing weight. I took her to a neurologist who diagnosed her with Cyclic vomiting syndrome. By May of the following year she was seeing a therapist and then went to see a psychiatrist who put her on Prozac. Her rash immediately cleared up. I asked the doctor about cortisol I figured her body must be producing to much and he said yes it was causing a stress rash.

Her mood improved temporarily and everything was blamed on the Tourette Syndrome. She started gain weight and by her Senior year she had gained 60 pounds and she barely ate. Her face became moon shaped and the majority of her weight was carried in the abdomen area. Her anxiety continued to get worse along with severe fatigue. We saw more doctors who just told her to lose weight and go to therapy to learn to live with her symptoms because there is nothing they could do for her. In June we found a new psychiatrist at U of M who increased her dosage of Prozac to the max dosage. She still has know improvement and she even attended anxiety classes to try to learn to cope.

She is now suffering from severe brain fog , has difficulty speaking and gets confused easily. In November she started having vomiting episodes and a rash again so that brought me back to thinking about her cortisol levels. I started searching the internet once again and stumbled upon Cushings once again. The light bulb went off! I ran downstairs and checked the back of her neck and there was a Buffalo Hump that wasn’t there in June. That is when I knew we may have found the answer.

We saw a new family doctor in December and she took us seriously and ordered Prolactin, testosterone, Thyroid, 24 Hour free urine cortisol and a Cortisol blood test. The Prolactin and Urine Cortisol came back elevated. The blood Cortisol 8am test cam back at the highest end of normal. We met with her psychiatrist and he agrees that it may be Cushings. We will see him on Feb. 1 and he is going to review her labs with a endocrinologist. We have an appointment with an endocrinologist on March 2 and are waiting to get into another endocrinologist at the University of Michigan. Praying for an answer!

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Patty, Pituitary Bio

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April is Cushing’s Disease Awareness Month. I would like to help raise public awareness about this debilitating illness. It is so misunderstood by most medical professionals that their patients often suffer for many years without a correct diagnosis and, in far too many cases, never get a diagnosis at all.

I personally suffered from a common list of Cushing’s symptoms for years. I sought help from medical professionals and was told nothing medically was wrong with me other than I was menopausal and needed to lose weight.

I gained 70 pounds in a short amount of time due to a tiny tumor in my pituitary gland which was overproducing the hormone ACTH, causing Cushing’s.

Besides rapid weight gain, my forearms bruised. I had a red face and neck, grew a hump on the back of my neck. My belly swelled to pregnancy size. I had high blood pressure.

No matter what I ate, how much I worked out, or how much I explained to everyone around me that I was not doing this to myself, no one believed me. I went about five years not sure what I would do because my body was slowly breaking down and was in really bad health.

In 2016 my back went out and I needed surgery. I was at a followup visit with a PA when he asked if I knew why I blew my back out.

Desperate, I got emotional and told him my story. I told him I thought I had Cushing’s disease based on my own internet research. He was the first person to listen to me and gave me a referral to see an endocrinologist. The endocrinologist took one look at me and knew without testing, although we did test and it was confirmed.

I met with my neurosurgeon and ENT and had surgery June 2017 to remove a 1 centimeter pituitary tumor, which lies at the base of your brain. I will forever be grateful to the team of doctors who saved my life and also to the PA who listened to me.

Life is slowly getting back to normal (or my new normal, I should say.)

Shared from https://www.thecamarilloacorn.com/articles/disease-may-be-hard-to-diagnose/

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Woman with hump on her neck diagnosed herself with Cushing’s disease

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Jennifer Trujillo, 33, noticed she was mysteriously gaining weight and losing muscle despite training for an athletic event in 2012

A woman who lived with unexplained weight gain and debilitating symptoms is finally getting her life back after diagnosing herself with a rare hormonal condition.

Jennifer Trujillo, 33, noticed she was mysteriously gaining weight and losing muscle despite training for an athletic event in 2012. She consulted doctors, but they were unable to identify the cause.

As time went on, the music consultant and video director,from Santa Fe, New Mexico, noticed that her hair was falling out, her skin bruised to the touch, her face was increasingly round, and her bones were becoming more fragile, with her foot breaking unexpectedly.

Her anxiety increased, and Jennifer, who also suffered from debilitating migraines, consulted her doctors again. Experts told her she might have a thyroid problem, bad genes or the start of osteoporosis.

‘I was training for an athletic event and started noticing that I was gaining weight, not losing it. I was losing muscle, not gaining it,’ Jennifer said, recounting her symptoms. ‘Shortly after that my blood pressure shot up through the roof.

‘My face was taking on a moon shape, very round and chubby. My anxiety was so high. Unbelievable migraines. I’d explain all these things to doctors for years and nobody would listen to me.

‘They said I may have a thyroid problem, or I may be getting osteoporosis, or I just had bad family genes and I would have to struggle to stay a good weight. But none of it made sense. I was even referred to a therapist because they said I was making up too many symptoms to make sense.’

To Jennifer, none of these explanations seemed plausible because she was working out twice a day and eating a vegan diet.

It wasn’t until she noticed a hump growing on the back of her neck, known as buffalo neck, that she googled her symptoms and found they matched those of Cushing’s disease.

Jennifer had always thought the bump was due to her ‘terrible posture’, but she discovered the hump was in fact a symptom of the condition.

‘One night I was looking at it and I was so disgusted so I googled the words “fat on back of neck”, and this thing called buffalo neck came up,’ she said. ‘From there, everything unfolded. I found Cushing’s disease and it was every symptom I had to a T, everything down to my foot breaking out of nowhere.

‘I took this information to my doctor and he was the only one who listened to me. He helped me and the rest is history. He himself was amazed I diagnosed myself with such a rare disease.

‘In my best description I would say Cushing’s slowly attacks different areas of your body. You literally experience pain and symptoms from head to toe, and it felt like each week I was waking up to something new.

‘I was able to maintain a somewhat tolerable weight before this because I became obsessed with working out and eating healthy because all this time I just thought I couldn’t lose weight. My doctors mentioned that if I hadn’t done all of this activity then I would have been in much worse shape. I’d easily be over 200 pounds, may have diabetes, osteoporosis, the list goes on.’

Cushing’s disease develops when the body makes too much cortisol. The condition often develops as a side effect of treatments for inflammation and autoimmune conditions, but can also develop as a result of a tumor inside one of the body’s glands.

The main treatment is to stop taking the medication causing it or to remove the tumor. If left untreated, the condition can cause high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. It affects about one in 50,000 people.

Jennifer found out she had a tumor on her pituitary gland that caused the body to overproduce cortisol.

Thanks to her active lifestyle, Jennifer’s weight gain, which saw her going from 105 pounds to 145 pounds was not as significant as it could have been.

Jennifer had surgery in August last year to remove the tumor on her pituitary gland and has been rebuilding her life ever since.

For Jennifer, recovery has been more difficult than living with the condition itself. She sometimes struggles to get out of bed as her body adjusts to producing less cortisol, meaning she feels less energetic.

However, her symptoms started to disappear almost instantly after the operation.

‘After surgery my symptoms quickly started to disappear like rapid fire. It was crazy,’ she said. ‘My weight dropped. I stopped bruising. The hump on my neck went down. My bones healed. My hair grew back. My face returned to its normal shape, and the best part, my blood pressure returned to normal.

‘My friends and family are amazed. Every time I see someone new they say I look like a completely different person.

‘Recovery is hard. I’m still going through it. Believe it or not it’s been harder than the actual disease. When your body is used to producing so much cortisol to all the sudden be producing nothing, your body crashes.

‘Some days it’s hard for me to get out of bed and move, I’m tired all the time and have zero energy. I’m only able to walk at the gym maybe two days a week. I’m currently on cortisol replacements so that my body levels out. Every two weeks I reduce my medication because the goal is to be completely off it and have a normal functioning pituitary gland.

‘However, every time I reduce my body crashes all over again, so it’s like a never-ending cycle. But I know that someday it will get better so I’m getting through it.’

Jennifer, who has been charting her progress on Instagram, shared her advice to others who might be suffering from similar conditions.

‘Never give up trying to find an answer and push your doctors to listen to you,’ she said.

‘If I hadn’t discovered this on my own I’d probably still be suffering.’

Read more:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-5450135/Woman-diagnoses-rare-hormonal-condition.html

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Mary S (ladysslipper), Adrenal Bio

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Originally from December 28, 2007

I recently completed a clinical trial at NIH because of an adrenal nodule. I also have hyperplasia of both adrenals.

Turns out I have primary hyperaldosteronism (which had previously been diagnosed) as well as elevated cortisol. I was told I don’t have Cushings but could develop it. Yet I do have unbelievably excessive sweating and have just begun to develop what I assume to be a buffalo hump–a lump at the top of my spine between my shoulders that is hard to the touch and painful.

My ability to handle stress is nearly nil; I sleep upward of twelve hours and more a day and yet get exhausted doing the littlest things. I’ve lost a lot of weight over the past two years because of nearly daily diarrhea–which I now believe may be caused by a deteriorating liver as I also have Heptatis C–and yet I have a fatty paunch which is beginning to show stretch marks I didn’t know I had.

My skin heals poorly and bruises very easily. I have splotchy skin, i..e, dark patches and totally pigment-less patches on my face. I was told my hypothalamus produces too much CRH which, in turn, triggers the ACTH to produce too much cortisol.

With two, possibly three, chronic conditions, I am beginning to worry about returning to work after my medical leave of absence ends this January.

I was on the pheochromocytoma support board until my diagnosis, and I know how helpful it was to have a group to turn to. I’m glad to see this one looks like a similarly supportive and informative group.

 

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Nicole, Undiagnosed Bio

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My name is Nicole, currently 19 years old. I’m a student at The Juilliard School in New York studying Dance. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to reach out to this community, I have certainly been stalking and researching this disease for months now… I guess I’m ready now to share my own story, especially since I feel more hopeless and alone than ever before.

July 2015— It all started about two years ago. I was only 17 and very much in peak-performance shape. I looked and felt like an athlete training to be a professional ballet dancer. I prided myself for my toned body, which is very very important in the dance world. I think I weighed about 103 lbs at a height of 5’4″.

But that summer I noticed it became increasingly difficult for me to fall sleep at night. I would sometimes stay up until 3 or 4 AM when I knew I had to be up at 6 or 7 AM for a full 8 hour day of dancing. I started to stress eat a lot as well and by the end of summer I blamed myself when I had gained back all the weight I had worked to lose the previous year, plus some. I think I was about 114 lbs by the end of August.

Around this time I also sought out a Naturopathic doctor for the first time at the suggestion from a friend to help me treat an underlying anxiety disorder. I was given supplements, and for a while my health improved considerably. I felt more calm and sane than ever before in my entire life. But that didn’t last long. I continued to steadily gain weight during my senior year, always going on extreme fad diets to try to maintain. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not.

March 2016– By the time Spring rolled around I was really starting to notice a difference in my appearance. My face had begun to swell and I began to wonder if maybe my weight was out of my control. Maybe there was an explanation for my struggles and failed efforts. So I began researching hypothyroidism, since it runs in my family, and I went to my primary care doctor to ask for the first tests. Little did I know this would be the beginning of a long and defeating marathon.

My doctor initially treated me like I was crazy. Saying that if anything I was still underweight and that I should be concerned about my primary amenorrhea (I had still never had a period). But he did the tests and the results came back suggesting hyperthyroidism. I was confused because all my symptoms suggested otherwise. Nevertheless I was shipped off to an endocrinologist who was of little help to me throughout the summer while I continued to dance and went away for a summer intensive in Chicago.

June 2016– While in Chicago my weight just ballooned even more. I admit I did gain muscle but that was thanks to the rigorous amount of training I was doing at the time. I definitely didn’t look right though. My muscles were buried under a layer of fat, no tone was visible, and my puffy face made me look like a stranger to friends when I returned home. I tried various thyroid replacement hormones at low doses, desperate to get my body back.

August 2016– I had returned to my Naturopath in the hopes she could finally diagnose me with hypothyroidism. She did, and in fact she discovered I have Hashimoto’s, which explained the fluctuating levels. She put me on NaturThroid before saying goodbye as I departed for my Freshman year of college at The Juilliard School.

September 2016– My health improved a short while. I lost some of the puffiness on my face, dropped some weight, but settled around 117 lbs. This only lasted about a month.

October 2016– By October things turned for the worst. I felt only weaker the more I pushed myself each day. My muscles weren’t allowing me to dance at the same capacity as I once had, I was embarrassed by my short comings, especially being surrounded by so many talented individuals. My weight started rapidly increasing now. I regained the puffiness around my face and neck, and my weight went from 117 to 126 in a matter of a month.

I was referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist who thought I had PCOS and put me on metformin. To her credit, I did fit the profile. I complained of rapid weight gain, I had slightly elevated testosterone, and I had a few small cysts on my ovaries. But there were also things that didn’t fit the bill. Like my apparent lack of Estrogen, which is usually elevated in PCOS. And that I had never had a period before. I also showed no signs of pre-diabetes.

January 2017– After winter break I really could no longer put a stop to my weight gain. No matter what, it just went up. I tried cutting carbs, sugar, and calories to below 1,200 a day, all while dancing 6-8 hours a day and my weight only went up.
Metformin didn’t work. Repro. Endo. put me on estrogen and progesterone for a while, but I stopped seeing her eventually because she didn’t listen to me and ignored my qualms about weight.

I also grew very very depressed around this time and began to wonder if this was the end of my dance career. I was starting to look like a joke in classes. I mourned my body. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.

May 2017– After months of research I began to wonder if I might have Cushing’s disease. I had the stretch marks on my butt and thighs, the filling in of fat around the collar bone, neck and jawline. Rapid weight gain, fatigue, depression, angry outbursts, and flushed cheeks. I do not have central obesity, but my weight has always tended to go to my butt and thighs. Though for the first time ever I begin to form a muffin top and fat on my arms. Cellulite appeared everywhere when I stretched my skin even a little bit, very odd to see cellulite on your knees! I had swollen legs too.
I now weighed 135+ lbs.

June 2017– When I got home for summer break my mom and I saw Neuro Endocrinologist Dr. Kevin Yuen at Swedish Pituitary Center. He listens to me, the first doctor to really listen! And he began testing.
Four 24/hr urine, 4 midnight salivary cortisol, 1 dexamethasone suppression test, 1 dex-CRH test, 1 Pituitary MRI.

July 2017– (current weight = 147 lbs) After a visit with Dr. Yuen and weeks of speculation he concludes there is only a 50/50 chance I have Cushing’s. Test results are as follows:
-2 mildly elevated 24/hr urines
-2 normal 24/hr urines
-3 elevated midnight salivary cortisols
-1 completely normal midnight salivary cortisol
-normal response (suppressed) after low dose dexamethasone
-normal response to Dex-CRH
-normal MRI

I’m disappointed to say the least that there is not more resounding evidence that I have this disease. I feel so certain that I have it. My body and mind are changing so rapidly I just want to cry every day. It’s so bad I don’t think I can return to school in the fall. I may have to take a year off of dance if I don’t get my body back in shape by the fall. And a year off of training could ruin me!!

Dr. Yuen suggests doing a hospital stay at Swedish to conduct further testing, particularly midnight serum cortisol, to see if more positive results might outweigh the normal results. I guess he wonders if I did something to mess up the cortisol response in some of the tests, though I don’t see how I could have! I’ve barely done anything this summer, definitely nothing exciting. I’m home-bound because I feel so depressed.

I don’t go to ballet classes anymore because it’s too painful to see myself in the mirror and try to dance in a fat suit. None of my clothes fit anymore. I just don’t feel like a young attractive woman like I used to. Not to mention my energy is out the window.

I haven’t quite given up yet! I eat a very limited paleo diet that omits grains and sugar (except those naturally occurring). I try to swim at least every other day and keep up with my pilates and stretching. It’s not the same though.

I might give up if after the hospital stay, the tests come back normal and I’m told I do not have Cushing’s, when I don’t see how it could be anything else!

I just want my life back.

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Victoria (Victoria), Undiagnosed Bio

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Hi everyone! I would first like to say how happy i am that this website exists it makes me feel so much better that others have gone through what i am currently experiencing and have made amazing recoveries! I am 19 years old and just finished my first year at college. This past semester was one of the hardest times of my life because not only was

I am 19 years old and just finished my first year at college. This past semester was one of the hardest times of my life because not only was i experiencing the internal manifestation of cushings causing extreme fatigue, anxiety, headaches, and muscle pain my appearance seemed to drastically take a turn for the worst bringing my self esteem to an all time low. My physical symptoms include an extreme moon

My physical symptoms include an extreme moon face,striae on breasts and calves, excessive hairiness, buffalo hump, acne, and bacne. I felt disgusting and sick all the time. i isolated myself from everyone because i was so embarrassed and sad because i felt like my femininity had been stripped away from me and i just was not myself. I began cutting to cope with my extreme sadness

i am now home for the summer and last Wednesday went to the doctors to finally get the diagnosis of cushings because i know for a fact that i have it. i first showed him my back and told him about my other symptoms. he then asked me if i was exercising and i said no because i never feel well. he said he thought that

he said he thought that i just needed to lose weight and that would help with my back and other things. he did notthink it was cushings because my buffalo hump was not pronounced enough but thankfully enough he said he would do a urine test just to be sure amongst many other blood tests. Now i am not a very large girl cushings has not manifested itself in me that has really effected my weight but it has effected everything else.

Anyways i am still waiting for the results of my blood work and urine test, i really feel that i will get the diagnosis there is no way that i do not have this. i just want to go back to my old self and enjoy college with my friends.

i am so scared and hope to support others and find support through this amazing site! Thank you 🙂

 

 

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