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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 😦

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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Rsh (Rsh), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed3

I am currently undergoing tests for cushing’s as I have all of the symptoms including 50 pound weight gain in 6 months, thin skin, buffalo hump, mid body weight gain, new diabetes and new high blood pressure, red spots on my face.

Some of the tests have come up high but some have come up normal so my endocrine doctor is thinking perhaps I have cyclical cushing’s. Becoming very frustrated as I continue to gain about 10 pounds a month ( have not changed my diet which is low carb).

I hope to have some answers soon, but the Dr wants me to wait another two months to test again.

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Elizabeth F (ElizabethF), Suspected Cushing’s

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Born with congenital hypothyroid (which was undiagnosed until 45). My thyroid is the size of a lima bean!

Discovered that I was exposed in utero and as a toddler to sky-high amounts of dioxins — i.e., Agent Orange, along with what has now been diagnosed as Asperger Syndrome. Through college, I was very athletic, super-strong (stronger than many men and could squat-jump HUNDREDS of pounds) and was an expert skier. I also played co-ed soccer, despite respiratory wheezing. I just dealt with it.

I have had episodes of suspected Cushings for about 25 years.. It felt like immediate-onset mono. I would have tons of energy all of a sudden, turn into a cleaning monster and get loads done (for example, cleaning out and rearranging my large storage unit) only to crash a week later and barely to get out of bed — coupled with weight gain of 40lbs + each episode.

At the lapses between episodes, I could diet and force myself to exercise, lose weight… but each time it was worse. I would gain 40, lose 35 — so I started losing ground. When given prednisone for bronchitis several times, when pregnant, and when given prednisone for systemic poison ivy, the same symptoms came back… but with much higher severity.

At the same time, I had multiple surgeries for perineal abscess — which was lanced and turned into a rectal-vaginal abscess. This would never heal.. I had 10 fistula flap, pig plug, cauterizations — none of which healed. No one could figure out why I wouldn’t heal. They tested me for HIV, but that was negative — so they had no answers. I seemed almost allergic to myself.

My surgeon talked me into a “temporary” loop ileostomy, promising that with no food going through, the fistula would heal. No dice. The ileostomy broke down, herniated, developed gangrene, and I ended up losing my appendix, some upper and lower intestine, and my caecum (which absorbs bile back into the body), and has resulted in terrible malabsorption problems and chronic diarrhea. Because I wouldn’t heal, the ileostomy was made permanent (my worst nightmare). Five years later I found a doctor to reverse the ileostomy. However, he noticed non-cancerous lesions on my intestine. Biopsies revealed nothing remarkable. I tested negative for celiac, for Crohn’s… just “cranky bowel”. While the takedown/reconnection surgery went well, my surgery site (a straight line from sternum to pelvic bone) would not heal internally and I herniated in 8 places. A piece of mesh was placed to cover the entire site. At the same time my gall bladder was removed because it had reportedly atrophied.

Since that last surgery I have gained 60 pounds, in 30 pound increments. One was immediately after the surgery, the other was over Spring Break. I got a lot done, felt like superwoman…all the while eating LESS than usual and drinking lots more water, but gained 30 pounds in a week, without swollen ankles. I had developed stretch marks in my armpits.

Since this started, my body has changed shape, places it stores, my feet have gone up 3 sizes, and my skin has turned kind of orange. I look like I go to a cheap tanning salon. The small buffalo hump I had 10 years ago has turned into a full-blown travel pillow which goes around the base of my neck. It looks a bit like my head is coming out of a vagina.

Don’t know what else to say. I can tell you what endo’s NOT to go to… But I have yet to find one who even believes cyclic Cushings’ even exists. I am trying not to dwell on the underlying question: Am I going to die of this before I get some real help?

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Michelle B (Mshelle), Cyclic Cushing’s Bio

5 Comments

Hello all, I’m Michelle mother of 3 beautiful children, I work part-time, 33yrs young, non-smoker, non-drinker, overall health is good for the most part…..Where do I even begin.

I just recently received the diagnosis of cyclic Cushing’s. I’m not really sure how long I have actually had Cushing’s because I have had a diagnosis of PCOS since I was 17 yrs. old ( I’m now the ripe young age of 33). However looking back through labs with my endocrinologist who I see every 6 months, my ACTH levels have been elevated for a bit over 1 yr. It was not until recently January of 2015- things were going terribly wrong.

Starting in January I started to feel genuinely unwell, on a regular basis. I cant really explain all my symptoms there were so many different sensations and feelings that were seemingly different daily. However the red flag was I was having blood pressure spikes from really high, to very low back to back. I never had any blood pressure issues so this was a concern that led me to see a cardiologist. Upon tons of testing the cardio MD felt that something was telling my otherwise very healthy heart to do this and I should see a endocrinologist. (thank goodness for him) I contacted my endo and let him know…. the testing began.

I did every test: the midnightcortisol saliva test, dex suppression, 24 hr urine test, CRH stimulation testing. And I did them more than once. Each time it was a different response either, inconclusive, normal high, or high. I was then referred to the head of the Cleveland clinics pituitary department Dr. Kennedy. He said he is having a hard time believing when he looks at me that its Cushing’s. However all my labs say it is. I will say I do fit the mold of PCOS to a tee- which symptoms of that do coincide with Cushing’s but he still said we have to be sure its Cushing’s. To add to the mix I did have a normal MRI as well.

Dr. Kennedy started me on a 2 week midnight cortisol saliva test- Upon completion we noted levels of cortisol all over the place, some Normal, normal on high range, high, and really high. He confirmed with all the other tests this is Cushing’s. Now we are trying to figure out what is next…. and where is this damn little tumor at. he feels that it is most likely in the pituitary from my test results, but we still are not ruling out else where. He is thinking that the next step would be exploratory neurosurgery or the IPSS. I’m not sure what to think of all this, except I want to hope for the best like everyone- and just be cured!!

On a side note during all of this I also had episodes of severe pain in my chest and nausea. I went to see a GI who did an upper endo scope. They found I had eosinpphilic esophagitis. I also have never had any GI problems until now; and they came on suddenly. Im also having pain in my pancreas area- not sure if any of the two are related at all to Cushing’s. But once again I was fine until recently with all these issues at once it seems.

wish me luck on further testing, treatment, and ultimately a CURE!!

interview

Michelle was our guest in an interview on BlogTalk Radio  Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The archived interview is available now through iTunes Podcasts (Cushie Chats) or BlogTalkRadio. There are currently 83 other past interviews for your listening pleasure!

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Kelsey G (kelcann44), Undiagnosed Bio

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Hi there! I am a 24 year old female from New Zealand. I am curently awaiting my last test to prove 100% if I have cyclical cushing syndrome or not.

I went from crazy happy boucing sport ,dance and hunting crazy tom boy to at age 12 have 8months solid of tonsitis once i got them out i never recoverd propley and turns out i had galandular fever which effected me really badly they belive it is where my chronic fatuige comes from and other things.

From 2008 to may 2011 i was living your normal teenage dream making up for being so sick in highschool i could makeup for that and build some.special groups of friends amd plan partys and holidays….untill may 2011, I was standing behind the counter at work and there was a niggle at my side going down my legs and that soon turned into full blown cramping that had me colapse amd feeling like i was being kicked woth boots. They rushed me to hospital and with pain medication it became a very sharp.niggly pain and with pain came vommiting ( i am not also diagnosed woth cyclical vommoiting syndrome
After a week they xrayed my side and said i was very constipated but they tried and tried to clear it amd they couldmt…..this episode lasted 8 weeks and i tend to have them every 6months of so ranging from 8weeks to 16weeks eventually i have been picked up by an endicrine professor who has done some tests with abnormal results the last one being they 30day salivitoryswab test

I next have the urinary test but i canot have that untill im out of pain and having bowel motions ( this had been week 5) just wondering if anyone else has had bowel troubles with theirs. The endicrine man is shocked that i have been missed for soo long when i have 99% of side effects ( i mever knew i just thought i was gettimg fatter and my chubby cheeks had decided to fatten my whole face and my old size 16 pants and 16 top. Has now turned into 16pants and size 24 top!

I wish i had a answer because the life i am living is killing me i am a hollow shell of the person i was i have no life dreams or ambitions its one day at a time or getting sick again will ruin it (and i beyond love traveling ended up in ireland hospitala and laid up 2weeks bedrest for sinus infection and pnemona and a close to bursting drum…i camt plan holidays now as i cant save the money my bugets blow away when im out of work for 16weeks !

Luckily my mum.andndad are there for me but i see how me being so ill is breaking their hearts and puting them under so much stress along with my brothers.and my neices and nephews . My big boy 4 year old nephew breaks down everytime he sees me in hospital and the needles in the hand must.hurt me and that the hospitals turned aunty telsey into a quiet ghost who dosnt love me and play with me….smashes my heart into a million peices hearing that but it is true and when im good im.rediculous i party like a rockstar and bugger the health because im done with living the shadow ghost of.me!! 💖

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Sheara (sbailey), Pituitary Bio

1 Comment

golden-oldie

 

I started back in Jan 08 with a heart arrythmia that ultimately put me through weeks of cardio testing. All cardio came up negative, including passing the stress test at 110% for my age. I went back to my PCP and she was deadended with answers.

I started to advocate for myself asking if it could be endocrine since I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease(a type of Hypothroidism) in 2002. In particular I asked her if she thought my adrenal system was the culprit. My doc said well let’s check cortisol levels. I did a salivary cortisol test that, according to the endocrinologist my doc spoke with said, was the highest he had seen.

They ordered up an MRI and confirmed a Pituitary Tumor on June 27th. My doc reacted quickly and had me go for an emergency eye exam that day to check visual fields…they were fine. Then my doc had me do urine and dexamethasone testing to see if cortisol levels could be duplicated.

Early July I had a phone call from my doc stating that since the other tests for cortisol came back normal they felt I had a non-functioning tumor but still wanted me to meet with a neurosurgeon. Finally on Aug 5th I met with the surgeon.

In the meantime I had been reading whatever I could get my hands on. I was prepared with many questions to the surgeon. Before I was in the room talking with him for 15 min. he mentioned Cyclic Cushing’s as a possibility. He had me repeat the salivary testing for 5 days…all came back normal. So the opinion remained that I may have Cyclic Cushings or can watch the tumor and symtoms or I could have the tumor removed for peace of mind.

I opted to have the surgery. to remove the tumor. Last Mon. Sept 29th I had Transsphenoidal surgery to remove the tumor. On Fri. Oct 3rd the neurosurgeon called with the pathology report results being that it was an ACTH(aka Cortisol) and Prolactin Tumor. He was vague to make a formal statement to agree that it was Cyclic Cushings.

So I am home on the mend 1 week post op…glad I made the decision to go forward with tumor removal. The medical system is curious though how they appeared almost afraid to make any formal opinions. Although the surgeon did state that Cyclic Cushings is difficult to diagnose. In my opinion, the evidence is in the pathology report!

Maybe it is my imagination, but I already feel like my “old self” back 10 yrs. ago. The other bit of history for me is that after my hypothroidism was diagnosed and I was stabilized on Synthroid and Cytomel I could never get weight off and in less than 6 months in 2005 I gained 40+lbs. No matter what I tried to do for weight loss I could not budge more than 5 lbs. I am now anxiouis to see how I do. I meet with the neurosurgeon in 5 weeks. He and possibly an endocrinologist will be following my health. Time will tell but I do feel I am on the right track.

Thanks for listening!

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Elizabeth (ToxicNudibranch), PCOS Bio

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This has been a difficult road to even get to a tentative diagnosis, and I know it’s going to be even more difficult going forward, but it’s better than nothing, eh?

I was a pretty healthy kid. I didn’t eat that well, I wasn’t that active, but I was always strong and fairly lean. When I was 19 that all changed. I’m 27 now, and have just barely found an Endo who was willing to order the obvious tests for my obvious signs. It’s been frustrating. To wit:

*2006 I move to the dorms and put on what I assume are the Freshman 25 within the first semester, even though I’m much more active and eating markedly more healthfully than I was ever raised to. 190lbs
*2007-2008 Job prospects are not great, so I’m dead broke. I end up leaving college for the time being. I’m walking everywhere since I can’t afford a car and public transport is not adequate, and eating less than I should. Weight stabilizes at 195lbs
*2009-2012 I’m not eating much more, just better (lean meats and leafy veg instead of rice and beans for every damn meal!), but my weight starts piling on again (30 in 2 months). I begin experiencing migraines, marked fatigue, and anxiety. Fat settles entirely around middle. Face still relatively normal. Continue moderate gains thru weight watchers, south beach, Atkins, etc. Bring concern to PCP, where I am accused of mis-stating caloric intake and asked to track food. I do, and on my follow-up appointment, my PCP just looks at me like I’m lying and and offers stimulant diet pills. I decline. Hirsuitism increases, as does fatigue. OBGYN diagnoses PCOS, I start Metformin 500mg/2x No reduction in weight. 220lbs
*9/2012 I put on another 15lb in 4-5 weeks. Face is getting fatter, gut sticks out like a basketball. I know something is very wrong, and by this point I’ve heard something about Cushing’s and thought “Hey, that looks exactly like me.” I go to see my first Endo. He notes that I have the hump, torsal weight gain, hirsuitism, weak limbs, easy bruising, anxiety, etc. Mild striae. I even show him pictures of myself from 6 months ago. The change in my appearance is enormous. He waves those away and runs a single midnight cortisol (inconclusive) and an8am dex test (kinda supressed) and says that I’m just fat because I’m clearly stuffing myself with chocolate cake on the sly and totally lying about the 5-8 miles *a day* that I’m running by this point. He recommends a more restrictive diet or gastric bypass. And did he mention that he just happens to be able to provide me a referral to a good colleague of his that runs a whole surgical center that will throw in some laser hair removal with Lapband? Asshole. I feel degraded and helpless. 235lbs
*10/2012-5/2013 Continued migraines, increasing sinus pressure and constant sinus infections, eyes very irritated. PCP blames allergies and stress. Could be migraines, could be cluster headaches. I take at least 1600mg of Ibuprophen daily. I can’t run anymore because my ankles and knees are hurting pretty badly, but I start swimming again. Continued creeping weight gain despite increased exercise. 240lbs
*6/2013-10/2013 Migraines increase. Mis-diagnosed with multiple sinus infections. (5/28/13, 6/19/13, 7/2/13, 9/10/13, 10/18/13) The sinus pressure and pain never seem to get any better, so I go see an ENT. He says we may have to roto-rooter my sinus cavity to correct the constant inflamation. However, once he reviews my CAT Scan, he says I have only the mildest of swelling in my sinuses. Whatever it is, it’s not my sinuses.
*11/2013-4/2014 I develop double vision, my right eye stops tracking with my left, both eyes are bugging out (exoplthalmos). ER doctor and Opthamologist diagnose it as Thyroid Eye Disease/Graves. I have no symptoms of hyperthyroidism/Graves, (TSH, Thyroid antibodies all negative/normal) but my main concern is regaining sight, and the course of treatment is the same, regardless. First course of Prednisone. Rapid weight gain of roughly 20 over 3 months. I track and weigh my food obsessively, averaging 1400kc/day, which should be resulting in steady weight loss. In addition to smimming, I adjust my commute so I walk instead of drive and am doing body-weight yoga. Strength is a fraction of what it used to be. My striae get worse, as does my torsal fat distribution, hirsuitism, fatigue, hair loss, hump, mental fogging, etc.  I’ve stopped wearing pants and moved entirely to dresses. 260lbs
*5/2014 I’ve been weaned off Prednisone entirely. My eyes look normal again. I’m still eating well, but I feel so badly and I’m so tired that I can’t exercise much anymore. My heart starts pounding from relatively mild activity. I’m not experiencing migraines anymore, but I just plain don’t feel good. My moon face gets even worse. Everything gets even worse, actually. My weight is the same, but I can’t lean my head back because of the buffalo hump and I can’t even properly snuggle with my fiance because I’m feeling choked by the massive beer cozy o’ fat that surrounds my neck.
*6/2014 My eyes are swelling again. Thyroid levels still normal and I don’t have any markers for Graves specific antibodies. We begin 2nd course of Prednisone.
*8/2014 I’m off Prednisone again. I know something is very wrong. I go to another Endo, Dr. Knecht, who actually listens. He reviews my medical history, looks at my clear physical symptoms, and orders a crapload of labs. The results are pretty clear. It’s Cushings. He thinks there’s a good chance it’s cyclical. Now we start in to determine exactly what kind we’re dealing with.  It’s very likely that all the things I’d been suffering from (the PCOS, the pain/pressure that turned into exoplthalmos, anxiety, migraines) have been directly related to this condition. In Dr. Knecht’s office, I cry from relief. When I get home and tell my partner, I cry because I’m kinda scared.

And then I found you guys. And now I’m really scared. Hopeful, still, but terrified. Because the clinical, dispassionate descriptions about the surgeries that may be needed to “cure” (or at least knock into remission) Cushing’s are very different than yearing about the actual day to day experiences of living with a messed up or woefully inadequate adrenal/endocrine system. I’m confident I’ll get through it, but damn. This is going to be really hard.

I will update more as we get more conclusive answers and I begin treatment.

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