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Shon (Shon), Undiagnosed Bio

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golden-oldie

 

Two months before my 31st birthday, I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was really shocked considering no other family member (maternal or paternal) had this disease.

Well, as the months followed, so did other diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. Each diagnosis brought more shock because I felt great and could keep up with any 20 year old out there. Within the next two years I had gain 70 pounds and looked like an apple with popsicle sticks for legs. I also seemed to have more symptoms which seemed to be dismissed by the doctors because it was also a symptom of one of my other diseases.

In the past 8 1/2 years, I’ve had 3 doctors, 3 endocrinologists, a hemotologist, a nuerologist, and 2 cardiologists that just keep attaching my symptoms to one of the labels that has already been given to me. Now, at the age of 40, I feel like I have the body of an 80 y/o. I can hardly walk because of the clots in my legs (have 2 stints), can’t stand for long and bending just kills my back because of the crack in my L5 S1 vertebrae, and among other things, can’t seem to do anything because of the extreme fatigue I have. I have no doubt that I have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, clotting problems with my arteries, and everything else they want to label me with, but it seems to me that after only 8 1/2 years, my health shouldn’t have gone down hill so fast. I also take 16 pills a day because each doctor wants to give me a medication for each symptom.

For a few years, I’ve been searching the internet for an answer. I would spend hours and seem to hit a brick wall each time. Still, I wasn’t going to give up. No one gets so sick that quickly from any of the diseases I’ve been diagnosed with. Just the other day, I was watching Mystery Diagnosis . I don’t even remember what it was about, but it did prompt me to start my internet search again. I did something different this time. I didn’t research all of my “diseases”. I simply typed in the search field: “Do any diseases mimic diabetes”. Guess what popped up all over my screen. Yep, Cushing’s Disease. I went to article after article and website after website. I was amazed to find that many of my symptoms were linked to Cushing’s Disease. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My “diseases” could actually be a symptom of a bigger disease which would explain a lot to me. Now I have another endo which I’ve made an appointment with (a month away, yuk) and I’m going to ask to be tested specifically for Cushing’s Disease.

Below I’ll list my symptoms.

Round “Moon” Face, Fat Lump on Back of Neck, Low Potassium, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, High Blood Sugar, Glucose Intolerance, Insulin Resistant, Muscle Weakness, Fatigue, Anxiety, Irritability, Depression, Decreased Fertility, Decreased Libido, Acne-like Rash, Backaches, Excess Facial or Chin Hair, Slow Healing Cuts or Scratches, Large Abdomen, Insomnia, Irregular Periods, Edema, Scalp Hair Loss, Excess Sweating, Memory Problems, Dizziness, Low Growth Hormone.

I also have a chronically high platelet and white blood cell count. The Hematologist couldn’t even figure it out (Yes, cancer has been ruled out with a bone marrow biopsy). I’m not sure if that has anything to do with Cushing’s or not, but unfortunately I have that as well.

Sometimes we tend to forget that many doctors only spend 7-10 minutes a visit speaking with us and forget about us about 7-10 minutes after leaving the room, and they certainly don’t lay awake at night thinking of us. It is much easier for them to treat a symptom that has already been issued a label rather than find a bigger cause for it, so we sometimes have to take matters into our own hands and help ourselves.

I’m thankful to have found this sight. If I find out that I do not have Cushing’s, I will continue my search, but it is nice to know that I will find an answer someday.

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Don S (Don S), Undiagnosed Bio

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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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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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Interview with Stacy ~ June 11, 2014

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Stacy writes in her bio

MacKenna is my daughter.  I am in desperate need of assistance regarding her weight.

She is 6 years old and weighs about 95 pounds.  At four, she was normal to underweight.

First clue – she gained 10 pounds in three months.  Of course doctor’s wanted a food log …. however, as her parent, I knew something was wrong.

So much to say, I NEED to help my baby and am hoping someone on this board can point me to a good pedi endo (I am currently on my second).  I have pictures to show the progression of her changes.  Her growth pattern is abnormal as she does not gain height while she gains weight and vice versa.

I believe it is cyclical cushings.  And if it isn’t, I still need help as this is going to kill her – her little frame cannot hold much more.

 

McKenna’s mom will be interviewed June 11 at 6:00 pm eastern in BlogTalkRadio.  Archives will be available later in the Cushing’s Podcast.

Marianne, Cyclic Cushing’s Bio

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I was diagnosed with Cushings in 2005 after 10 years of living the nightmare.

My first symptom was a 30 pound weight gain in 1995 over only 3 weeks.  My MD told me to go on a diet. At the time I had whooping cough and was bed-ridden and not eating anything. I thought it was my thyroid, which I had problems with since giving birth in 1983.

I was diagnosed by my endo, who soon after became my primary physician as well. It was very hard to diagnose the Cushings as it is cyclic, but finally in 2005 a dexa test finally showed up. We had tried everything at that point.

I did have pituitary scans; the first time showed a microadenoma of about 5mm in the left lobe. When he repeated the test that was gone and there was a 2mm one on the right side. That too disappeared, but at the time I was going to healing masses often.

We cannot find the cortisol producing tumor, so we just try to keep me calm and address the symptoms to make me as comfortable as possible. The ONLY symptom I do not have is the striae, but I have every other one including the lovely moon face, hump back and GASP whiskers.

Thank the Lord God above for tweezers and hair removal products!

In Memory: Bonny Hamm

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I did not know Bonny personally but she was an Australian  member of the Cushing’s Help message boards who rarely posted.

She was only 45 at the time of her death October 12, 2009.  I’ve known far too many Cushies who have died far too young from this disease.

Bonnie’s Avatar

Bonny wrote July 1, 2009

I was sick with ALL the symptoms (about 30-40) for 5 years. Finally got correctly diagonosed and had my left Adrenal Gland and its tumour removed in June 2007. The recovery was long and hellish. The worst symptom after the operation was 3 months of constant itching literally from my scalp to my heels and every inch of skin in between. I also had pain in every single joint of my body, along with all the pre op symptoms that took a long long time to improve.

Now two and a half years on, I have a second tumour… on the same side! No idea how that can be seeing as the gland is gone. My Endo is overseas so until he comes back I don’t know much, but they are running more tests and I am waiting for a surgery date to go through it all over again!

All the symptoms are horrible, but last time I particularly hated the fractures (still have a few of those),as they made life so difficutlt and painful, but also relly hated losing half my hair, and the weight gain and moon face. Feeling awful is terrible, but when you add the things that make you look horrible too, its pretty hard to take.

As a single parent, (divorced), life is very hard with Cushings as you don’t have anyone else to do the things for you that you cant do yourself, or help you with your own personal stuff.

Before and after Cushings

Before and after Cushing’s pictures.

Rest in peace, Bonny!

Beth said it best on Facebook

(I) lost a very strong, courageous friend to the very disease she suffers from.. your pain is gone now, Bonny.. Rest well and thank you for touching my life. ♥

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