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Mika, Undiagnosed Bio

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I’m 16, going on 17… and I think I’m close to being diagnosed with Cushings. Quite frankly its scaring me so I’ll just do my best to get my story out there.

I’ve always kind of been on the heavier side compared to other people my age, even when I was really little. However, my weight has shot up from 60 kg to about 110 kg in 2-4 years, and my already awful confidence is basically shattered.

When I got my growth spurt I got severe stretch marks, but I thought it was nothing, and my parents attributed it to me growing so quickly or something along those lines.

I’m in constant pain, I’ve barely been to school since September 2016. I can barely move half the time due to severe exhaustion and pain, I fear for my future.

We originally thought all the pain was from gluten intolerance, which I was diagnosed with, late 2015. We completely cut gluten out of my diet, but instead of getting better, my symptoms got worse. The exhaustion lead to a diagnosis of chronic fatigue in mid 2016.

On a whim I’m guessing, my doctor ordered tests for ACTH when he got told of my worsening symptoms. It was much higher than it should’ve been, and I got forwarded to an endocrinologist, more tests, ect… I need to go back in a few days for the results, I’m becoming more and more nervous the more I wait.

My already bad mental health has taken a hit, as well. I was never really mentally okay due to a horrible string of things happening to me in my childhood, but when this popped up my illnesses got 10x worse, to the point I’ve harmed myself and attempted suicide. Even when I feel okay enough physically, I can’t go outside without being scared something will happen to me or that everyone is judging me for how I look. I was on medication for depression, but I was able to function even less when I was on it, so I was taken off of it. I have depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other disorders which have been diagnosed and they’ve all worsened in some way.

My schooling has taken an even bigger hit, I can’t think right due to disturbed sleep, general tiredness and headaches. I used to be a fairly good student and before I left, my grades had dropped significantly, my teachers and peers were looking down on me for how far I had fallen.

I used to constantly blame myself for my weight, I’ve hated it since I was very little, so at least this gives me a small bit of relief that its not completely my fault.

I just want to get my life back, I have my whole life ahead of me, but my teenage years are basically being stolen from me like I had my childhood stolen. While everyone else my age worries about tests I worry on if I can ever move out of my house or even walk to the shops again. It feels wrong and cruel. My symptoms have suddenly gotten much worse and I’ve developed new ones, and I honestly get more scared by the day.

Everyone else’s posts give me a tiny bit of hope for the future, I just hope I can one day live like everyone else does and not be weighed down completely by illnesses. It will be a slow road, but I just hope I can get there in the end.

Thank you for reading this to the end if you have, sorry if its just a jumble of words. ^^;

 

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MIranda (Miranda34), Steroid-Induced Cushing’s

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steroids

 

Hi,
I have only recently been diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome,and it is due to the mediciine i take for asthma.ilast year i kept collapsing in the street and iwas suffering from low blood-pressure and hypoglycemia.

 

I live in france where this illness is practically unheard of. I am on two different medications to treat my illness but have gained a lot of weight,have a ‘camel’s hump’,edema on my legs and feet as well as having a ‘moon-shaped face”. I am British-American and would love to hear other people’s stories of living with this disease.

 

I am exhausted all the time,depressed,can’t concentrate on anything…i have trouble leaving the house because i get dizzy and people stare at me and judge me because i am obese.

 

I came to this website to hear other people’s stories and to feel less alone because Cushing’s syndrome is a nightmare.

Take care!

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Turtledove (turtledove), Undiagnosed Bio

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golden-oldie
Monday, December 29, 2008

just found this sight looking for answers to a long list of problems and diagnosis.

I have battled years long of severe stress and well am trying to find out what happenned and how to get well again. I have menapausal estrogen issues not answered shoulder impingement problems and one dr suggested I had phase 3 exhaustion which led me to study on adrenials.

blood work has been done whichis showing elivated red blood cell counts my thyroid levels appear within the normal range but 30 yearrs ago i was treated for hyperthyroidism which even then i suspected was not the right gland. Im wondering if this elivated red blood count is yet another indicaation of this adrenial issue as dr after dr finds this that and the other and treats each as such.

im just learning about this condition an dwhere it appears i am fitting into it but what test will show if it is or isnt? its all very confusing.

i am 51 now and as i have said the last 5 years of my life have had supreme stress and conditions that have just led to exhaustion mental and memory failures pysical problems that obviously didnt happen overnight and now the red blood count in the picture……does that fit in here somewhere?

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Julie M (Jules), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed4
I am here because I believe my 26 year old daughter has cushings.

She went through puberty late, just as it started she had a strange episode where she couldn’t speak, walk and was confused. I took her to the ER, the ran different tests and sent us joke with b vitamins? Since that time (11 years ago) her behaviour has been bazaar, she had put on about 6 stone.

After the birth of her child 3 years ago she had gone a lot worse. Aggressive, numbness in both legs, depression, tingling in fingers, ties and around mouth, exhaustion, insomnia and the buffallo hump which she has had for years. I thought at first she had pernicious anemia but her b12 level is ok.

The haematologist is asking out gp to run tests he mentioned cortisol, I looked it up and couldn’t believe she has exactly the same symptoms, she has constant headaches and her legs are also covered in bruises because when she does eventually go to sleep she wakes up in another part of the house due to sleep walking.

She has just been given anti depressants and sleeping tablets which she does not take. I requested her medical records and went through them found out that she had lesions in her frontal lobe 11 years ago when they ran the tests. I also discovered that she had normal low TSH and very low t4 which points to the pituitary gland

Some days she feels ‘ok’ which is very rare. Most of the time she is suicidal and stressed. I’m waiting for her to be called for her cortisol tests, I just hope they are done at a time that she is going through her cycle.

Contact Jules

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Karen K, Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed2

 

Hi, I’m Karen 51 yrs old, undiagnosed by a doctor, just realized all my crazy symptoms are related and have made an appointment with my doctor for next week.

I think it started in my Mid 30s with very bad acne, horrible migraines with throwing up, vertigo, high blood sugars, major depression, sleep apnea.

My symptoms over the last 12 years are hair loss on my scalp, weight gain no matter what I eat or how much I exercise all in my torso, buffalo hump and fat pads above clavicles, daytime exhaustion, insomnia, bloated feeling, edema in my legs and feet, tendonitis, arthritis and bone spurs, dehydration daily, sweating a lot during the day and at night, bruise easily, muscle weakness, depression, scary crazy mood swings with lots of screaming, no libido, red and white patchy tongue, high blood pressure and diabetes, my face gets red and hot like I’m blushing or have a bad sunburn, then goes back to normal looking, fat face, really bad heartburn everyday several times a day and before I go to bed I need to take antacids, it’s so bad I feel like I’m going to throw up. then theres the strange boil on my back that comes and goes, and the diverticulitis, and most recently a blocked salivary gland! also some back pain by my hump and side pain next to my left breast, I get so angry and I just want to cry all the time, it’s so frustrating, and I’m so so tired everyday.

I have seen doctors for most of these issues. I never thought they had anything to do with each other, I was sick a lot when I was a kid, I just thought I was someone that got sick a lot. Especially with the diabetes, I just assumed I was getting infections because of my weakened immune system and premature menopause.

I’m not sure when I got the hump but it’s in my wedding photo’s. Our 12 year anniversary is coming in January. My periods stopped right before I got married at 40, that’s also when I was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, over the last 12 years my weight had gone up and down but mostly up 75 lbs. I eat better now than I ever have, plus there’s all the exercise everyday walking 3-5 miles a day on weekdays.

Recently I was switched to the U500 insulin, so my sugar readings have been great, finally after a few years of very high readings and feeling like crap, diarrhea and vomiting.

I’m so glad I found this website!

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Rita (Rita), Steroid-Induced Bio

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Hello to those who are frustrated & suffering!

My real search for a diagnosis began vigilantly just over 2 years ago. I was extremely hot,exhausted,weight gain (unexplained) and not sleeping well and sleeping all the time but extremely fatigued!!! My face became very round and my facial & body skin was a nightmare.

My husband kept saying that he thought it was systemic but I wasn’t sure. And, this sounds so sill but completely true, I was watching an episode of Doc Martin (UK series) where a woman was having trouble and he told her she had Cushings. Well, I had never heard of this disease so I looked it up on the internet and told my husband that’s what I have. Of course, he said that I was being silly.

I had very upset stomach most of the time to I had an endoscopy & colonoscopy where large cysts had developed. I also had burning and nagging pain in my upper thigh area thinking it was my Lymph nodes. Many more cysts were discovered on my ovaries and all the doctors cold focus on were the cysts and telling me that my blood pressure was too high and that I needed to lose weight.

I few months later I noticed small purple striations on my abdomen and just knew I had Cushings. So, I asked my doctor if he could run cortisol test on me and he said no problem. I had also told him at this time that I was using a steroid cream to control my eczema and he said that would not cause not effect me in such a way to cause such problems.

I had beeen to the emergency room, had 4 CT scans, atleast 7 ultrasounds, 2 MRI’s and so many blood tests that I had lost count.

Another doctor had recommended that I see an Oncologist so I saw 2 of them…..still no idea and 2 more visits to the emergency room.

I sent all my files and tests to the best Endocrinologist I could find and still had to wait 6 months for an initial appointment.

During the 6 months of waiting to see my Endocrinologist, my body had taken a severe turn for the worse. I could barely step up onto a curb and would spend 3 weeks straight in a bed.

I was extremely depressed and felt like I was dying!!!

April of 2014 my long awaited appointment to see THE BEST ENDOCRINOLOGIST in the state finally came!!!!! He took one look at me and said you have Cushings without a doubt!!!! he saw all the other files and tests that the other doctors had done and said they all did the same exact tests and have absolutley no idea what they are doing.

This is the best doctor I have ever been to see in my entire life, he spent over 1 hour with my during my first evaluation. (Please know,that he is not even covered by my insurance but I didn’t care……shelled out $510 and it saved my life.)

He would stop asking me questions until he got to the root of what was causing the Cushings. And it was the cream that I was using to control my eczema!!!!!!! Yes, please know that Cobetasol Proprionate will cause Cushings if used on a long term basis.

I had no warnings or instructions from my Dermatologist. He just said use this on your eczema.

Dr. Neil Breit saved my life!!!! He said that I was hands down, the worse case he had ever seen!!! And he said that I would have definitely been dead in 1 or 2years at best.

If you live in the Northeast, please seek out this doctor. He is the best and very passionate & loves his work. He truly cares and brings lots of smiles with his treatment!!!!j

Dr. Breit still spends 1 hour with me on every office there. And I still pay full price but do not mind, because he saved my life!!!

Also, right before my diagnosis, I discovered GERSON THERAPY. Regardless of whatever is wrong or just being healthy, juicing helps me immensely with energy and just feeling better as a whole!!!

Thank you for enduring my long story!!!!! Keep fighting for your diagnosis and don’t stop till you get one!!!

Thank you kindly for reading my story,
Rita in New Jersey

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Nancy, Pituitary Bio

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The pituitary gland

The pituitary gland

I had been sick for eight years before I finally got diagnosed with Cushings disease. My daughter went online and punched in hump on back and found out about Cushings disease. Then she went to sites like this one and found out what tests were necessary, which was very helpful, because not only did the endocrine doctor I saw think I didn’t have cushings disease, he also didn’t know what tests I needed. Thankfully he was on board with ordering the tests we asked him to order. 

In 2008 I had pituitary surgery. I went on steroids afterwards for over a year. I lost all of the weight I had gained. My doctor told me I was cured. I kept telling him I was still exhausted and I was sick all of the time, but he wouldn’t listen and told me I was just depressed. Since then I have been to three other endocrine doctors. I have done a few 24hr. Urine collections and an 11 :00pm to 7am urine collection. I also did 3 saliva tests which were normal. The night time urine collection was on the “high side, but still within normal range “.

I had an MRI which didn’t show anything either. My doctor said he would do more 24 hrs urine collections in a couple of months. He said he would also do another MRI. I haven’t had any luck with the 24hr urine collections, so I am not expecting much. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I will be fat and sick the rest of my life because I am so tired of doctors telling me they can’t find anything wrong with me.

I gained 60 lbs. In 6 months after my doctor told me I was cured. At the same time I started gaining the weight back, I started to get the same symptoms I had when I had Cushings disease. Since then my weight continued to climb until I started taking cortisol reducing supplements. Now I am still sick, but my weight has stayed the same. I have days where I am so sick I don’t want to get out of bed. Most of those days I have severe headaches and back aches. I get colds and flu a few times a month. People don’t think it’s the flu because I get it so often, but I have vomiting and body aches, just like I did when I had Cushings disease. I think I may have cyclical cushings because the tests aren’t showing anything. I am wondering if someone could recommend a test or tests that are good for cyclical cushings disease.

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Dawn M (Lind8588), Steroid Induced Bio

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I have suffered from severe asthma and environmental allergies since I was a young child.  They used steroids as a way to help me breathe and stop hives.

As I got older, things just got worse.  More steroids, more allergy medications, etc.

Two years ago I started losing energy, lacking the urge to eat, having daily headaches, gaining weight even with exercise and sleeping a lot.  I thought it was stress as I was finishing my doctoral degree.  My regular doctor tried everything.

Finally, she sent me to Mayo in Minnesota and they diagnosed me with exogenous Cushing’s.  I had the buffalo hump, striae and moon face.  They did not give me any medications but told me to stop taking steroids.  Also, they found that my Vitamin D was a 9 so they loaded my Vitamin D.  I slowly started to feel better for the first six months.  I now seem to be going back downhill.  I am exhausted all the time.  I have no idea where to turn.  I am starting here and also looking for a local endocrinologist, otherwise I may return to Mayo.

 

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Catherine B, Pituitary Bio

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I’ve had random symptoms off and on for years (almost two decades now, from about the age of 15) but didn’t realize they were related to illness, or that I had one overarching disease causing them all.

Looking back, the onset of my disease was in my teen years.  I gained more than 60lbs in roughly a year’s time without changing diet or activity level.  I developed stretch marks that ran from my knees to my elbows (and everywhere in between!).  I started losing my once-thick hair.  I developed horrible acne.  I went from being an early morning riser to staying up late at night because I was wide awake, and waking often throughout the night.  I went from being happy overall to being anxious and depressed for no apparently reason (and medication had no effect on either).  I was told it was either all in my head or all my fault (by varying people, some directly, some implied) and I internalized that and just assumed I was too lazy and had bad genetics…  I TRIED to exercise but would feel so sick afterwards that I couldn’t make any gains, I joined a gym and put myself on a diet in high school but none of it made any difference.  When I brought up my symptoms to doctors, they could never put it together, often blamed me for them (Just diet and exercise and it’ll go away), and sometimes treated me like I was just plain crazy.  I still don’t go to doctors unless I have to because of those experiences.

After getting married, I had had some complicated pregnancies…but it was more than that.  I would get flank pain and drop into “lows” that I didn’t understand, complete with feeling cold, diarrhea, weakness, exhaustion, nausea, loss of appetite, and extreme weight loss (muscle loss, more like it).  I had high cardiac output but low blood pressure and a high pulse rate.  I’d go into tachycardia (140 bpm +) for NO apparent reason and had all kinds of cardiac monitoring done.  My blood pressure was labile, but usually low, and still I’d end up with severe complications. Breastfeeding wasn’t going well despite the “mechanics” and flow being there…my babies were never satisfied and I always felt sickly.  The differences were drastic (but a bit graphic to share here publicly).  I seemed to get pregnant at the drop of a hat (opposite of the norm for Cushie women), but my body seemed unable to deliver on it’s own.  My body just didn’t react like it should to anything.  I even once had an episode post-partum that now I know was likely some mixture of adrenal insufficiency and/or my hypoaldosteronism.  I was left alone to sleep it off (just thinking about it now scares me), but I didn’t know any better at the time.

Then about 3-4 years ago I hit this point where I just had the feeling that if I didn’t get whatever was going on under control, I’d end up with something more permanent and dangerous (like cancer or diabetes).  I still got seemingly random symptoms but I had too many of them, and they were getting worse.  I also started to notice that my good days and bad days seemed to come in cycles.  3 days, 3 weeks…I’d be good for a while, then worse for a while, then good for a while.  I had already eaten “clean” and kept myself active, so I decided to try “nutritional balancing therapy” and started taking a karate class multiple times a week (burns TONS of calories, fyi).  They ran some tests for various vitamins/minerals, and said I had adrenal insufficiency.  The diet I was put on was a higher fat (good fat), higher protein, TONS of veggies diet (basically we just cut out my grains/starches and added in more fat) but between the diet and the exercise, I became so ill I couldn’t get off the couch for about 4 weeks.  I had to give up both and it took some time to recover, but I never got back to where I had been, not even close.

I started studying the natural healing term “adrenal fatigue” and came to the realization that I had done everything to correct AF but was still going downhill.  I had tried supplements, diet (years of it), everything.  I became pregnant unexpectedly and was active, even tap-dancing with a major part in a musical at 20 weeks pregnant.  I would have these ups and downs that seemed random, but when I finished the musical, I hit a new low and never seemed to come back from it.  I just became more and more exhausted.  To the point that certain days I could *feel* the energy it took to hold my head up to watch a movie with my kids.  The CNM and OB both said I was just depressed and upped my dose of Vitamin D.  They wanted me to go on antidepressants, and I refused.  I knew the difference between not wanting to do things and not being able to do them. I called a doctor that specialized in Adrenal Fatigue in California after having read through his website, and he basically said that I would continue to get worse, but that he wouldn’t treat me because of my pregnancy.  No help, no suggestions, he told me “come see me if you make it out alive.”  I obviously needed outside help from a true expert.

I had joined an Addison’s support group online about this time, and they helped me learn a lot about AI and Addison’s, about symptoms, testing, about Hashimoto’s, etc.  I am SO grateful to these women who supported me and taught me much.  They never questioned if I was just depressed or if I was really sick, and they were so kind they WERE the sanity that I needed so desperately.  I was getting nowhere with local doctors, my husband believed me and was as helpful as he could be, but it was taking a big toll on us, and when we asked for help from our local church leaders with cleaning our home because I no longer could do it (and my husband was so overwhelmed doing everything by himself), we were threatened as a family and refused help.   I was desperate; I was hurting.  My whole family was struggling because of this disease and the treatment (and lack thereof) we’d received from doctors and so-called friends.

These Addisonians had been talking a lot about one specific endocrinologist that specializes in pituitary disorders (who also happens to be in California).  In complete desperation, I emailed him, knowing the chances that he’d take me or that I could even get in to see him before delivery (due to travel restriction based on gestation) was unlikely.  But I was scared of what a delivery with untreated Addison’s might bring (I knew the stats and knew I didn’t trust the local OB), so I emailed explaining my situation and sent my current lab work (I had to go to my GP because my OB wouldn’t even test my thyroid or iron!).  I knew it sometimes took weeks to get a response or get in to see this doctor 3 states away, but I sent the email on February 8th, and heard back via email that same night from his office lady.  She was sure he could help me, and suggested I schedule an appointment right away, and was waiting to hear back from him directly.  He responded that he did see something amiss in my lab work, and I was scheduled for an appointment and buying plane tickets.  My appointment was on Valentine’s evening and a friend flew with me because I was too weak to do it alone, and because my brain was too foggy to feel comfortable understanding and responding to everything in the appointment, not to mention I was super pregnant with my 6th child!

I went in SURE I had Addison’s Disease, or at least a form of adrenal insufficiency, and even tried to argue that fact.  I came out with a LOT of testing for Cushing’s Disease.  It was, in fact, the low cortisol periods that I was noticing, but it was being caused by periods of high cortisol.  You see, the cortisol takes a big toll on your body and overrides the normal feedback system of your pituitary and adrenal glands.  While the tumor is actively pumping out ACTH, it can shut down your own pituitary’s normal production because the pituitary feedback says there is already too much cortisol in your system.  Then, if/when the tumor “kicks off” (who knows why they do this), your pituitary is in a lazy state from not having been working and it can take a while for it to kick back in.  This can bring life-threatening lows, but generally it just brings low-cortisol symptoms which are still uncomfortable.

I was unprepared for the change in direction at my appointment.  I had the right system and hormones, but I was looking at it backwards, and the more I learned about cyclic Cushing’s Disease, the more sense it made, the more things clicked together, and the more I understood about my past and present symptoms.  I have cyclic Cushing’s Disease.  I had read up a little on this about 10 years prior, when my mother-in-law had died from untreated Cushing’s (she refused treatment and was a stubborn, intelligent women who got her way).  I had read through some information with my husband at that time.  We had concluded that it was a possibility, but I didn’t have enough of the symptoms (maybe half?) and decided that I wasn’t nearly sick enough for that to be the problem.  How wrong we were!  I certainly wasn’t as bad as many, but I found that the downhill turns were often sudden and drastic, especially in the more recent years.

At my appointment I was also told I had hypothyroidism.  He ordered more of those tests (to get a trend) and an antibody test.  It was found I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (an autoimmune thyroid disease) and was put on thyroid medication.  My ferritin level (stored iron) was so low it was in single digits (he wants it around 60) and he said that had I not been flying home the next morning, he’d have had me in the hospital for IV iron infusions.  Needless to say, I was put on iron –lots of it.  My vitamin D was still lower than he’d like despite having been on treatment, so he switched me to 50K iu’s of D3 weekly (My OB had chastised me repeatedly for taking D3 instead of D2; Ha ha!).

I had to wait for a while after my pregnancy to allow my body to normalize before doing my Cushing’s testing.  I first tested by date (randomly, basically) and got a few marginal highs, but mostly normal test results.  My pituitary MRI was read clean.  Dr. F told me he didn’t know what was wrong, but that it didn’t look like it was Cushing’s because of the testing.  I was not prepared for that, and just ended the conversation in an emotional mess.  I was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted and didn’t plead my case.  I didn’t have insurance or the money to test more, even though I was pretty sure I needed it.  And looking back, had I asked, he probably would have obliged.

I decided to again try natural healing methods.  Nothing worked, and some things (extended juice fasting, for instance) actually made me much worse.  Every time I hit another “low”, it seemed to become my new normal…and that was scary.  I kept losing more energy and strength, more of my mental ability, and each time I couldn’t imagine it getting worse, yet it always did.  (I still haven’t learned this lesson!)

About a year later, after a lot of prayer and thinking, after I’d exhausted most natural treatment methodologies I felt willing to try, I realized I did indeed need to go back and push for further testing, and test by symptoms.  Mentally and emotionally I was in a much better place, and while I had recovered a bit after my delivery, I had started to again slide downhill despite my best efforts.  I came up with a game plan, and the hope of it made the effort required seem possible.

I emailed Dr. F to ask about further testing, this time by symptoms, and there was no pushing or arguing necessary!  He gave me more sensitive testing this go round, and told me to test as much as it took.  He believed me!  It was as if the way just opened up for me this time.  I was uninsured, but I applied for the Cushing’s Assistance program through NORD (The National Organization for Rare Disorders) and was accepted.  They offered to cover the costs of testing, doctor’s appointments, and travel needed for the same, that would lead to a diagnosis of Cushing’s Disease.  I was in public when my husband called and read me the letter, and I started bawling right then and there in the shopping isle.  It was an answer to a prayer I didn’t even think to voice.  I then called to share the news with family and friends and bawled again, scaring yet more customers!  Having no insurance, this made everything possible.

Tracking my symptoms wasn’t a very easy task.  I went totally OCD on them, and still I was only somewhat successful in my efforts. I could get the overall trend, but the day-to-day was confusing as all-get-out.  My testing was also complicated by living in Alaska.  I could only turn in tests 4 days a week because they had to fly out to the labs in Seattle, WA and beyond.  It took about a month to get each result back.  Add to that a head cold that killed my cortisol levels for 6 weeks, and it took me a few months to get sufficient high labs even with my 2-page-wide spreadsheet of symptom data.

In that time, I also made friends on the Cushing’s-Help website and Facebook groups.  I learned a LOT of things from them, and one friend in particular likes to “read” pituitary MRI’s the way I like to “read” fetal ultrasounds.  She looked at my previously “clean” MRI and said that in her lay opinion, it was anything BUT normal.  As a favor, her neuro-radiologist also took a look at my MRI, and was so kind as to send back pictures with ARROWS of pituitary adenoma’s and suspicious areas on my MRI to forward on to my endocrinologist.  As it turns out, my doctor hadn’t read the disc himself and had just read the radiologist’s report.  He looked at the disc and agreed it was not normal, then sent me a message stating I needed a new MRI (it had been over a year at this point and my previous MRI still had some of that post-partum “rainbow” shape to the pituitary) and that it should be read by a neurosurgeon this time around.  JOY OF JOYS!  This brought me even more hope!  He said SURGEON, not just himself…that meant I was getting so close to that diagnosis and surgery clearance –to getting help.

I scheduled my MRI trip (can’t do a 3T dynamic here), and decided to schedule a face-to-face with my endocrinologist again while in the same city.  NORD paid for the flights, reimbursed me for the cost of my doctor’s appointment, paid for the MRI, and paid for my hotel room.  My husband came with me this time, and it was the best doctor’s appointment I’ve had in my life.  I was still nervous that somehow it wasn’t enough, or that the MRI done the day before my appointment would miraculously have become normal again.  That was not the case.  My MRI showed two possible adenomas on opposite sides of my pituitary amongst other things, and my 7+ diagnostic-level high labs were sufficient…and it felt AMAZING!

Who knew we’d be so excited to hear I was diagnosed with a deadly disease?  That we’d shout for joy and clap our hands at finding multiple tumors in my head?  I had a smile that wouldn’t go away.  The medical student shadowing my endocrinologist hadn’t seen the diagnosis side, where patients are so relieved to have an end in sight, to finally be getting help and have a chance at getting better, that they are happy!  I also wore my “Does my pituitary gland make me look fat?” shirt to this appointment, so we were joking, taking pictures, and having a grand old time.  He gave me permission to share the picture of us, and without prompting pointed to my head for the next picture saying, “It’s right HERE!”  My endocrinologist is generally stoic, quiet, caring yet professional, dealing with very ill people with a very serious disease and he is often their last hope at life…so I feel myself privileged to have had the opportunity to see him in-person for my diagnosis appointment, and to see this other side of him.  I hope he felt our gratitude as well.

The “pick whose going to cut into your head” decision took a while.  I was offered 100% coverage through a quality hospital and with a quality neurosurgeon for anything done at their facility, but the endocrinologist there wanted me to start my testing process ALL over again with them, at my cost at home.  I was not willing to start over after all that hard work and with as quickly as I was deteriorating, so I decided to wait till January when the new health coverage laws were in effect and I could again get insurance without preexisting conditions clauses.  I was able to be referred to my first-choice of neurosurgeon’s and placed on Ketoconazole to help lower my cortisol while I waited.

I had pituitary surgery on February 5,2014 (I am writing this 4 months post-op).  They were able to find and remove the more obvious of tumors on my MRI, and explored the rest of my gland, finding no more tumor tissue.  My pathology report came back as “hyperplasia”, meaning I had a bunch of individual scattered cells that were a tad overgrown instead of a solid, encapsulated tumor.  This kind of tumor has a very low success rate, since the entire gland can be diseased, but it can be impossible to see and remove every one of the scattered cells.  We knew early on that it didn’t look like remission based on my symptoms and post-operative lab results.  I was off my replacement hormones within a month, had to wait for my cycles to normalize a bit (I guess all that pituitary fileting was noticed by my pituitary even if I wasn’t cured! lol) and then I could begin retesting for re-diagnosis.

In April I had a post-op MRI and follow-up with my neurosurgeon, who said I did not have a visible target on MRI, and with pathology report of “hyperplasia,” I am not a candidate for repeat pituitary surgery or radiation therapy.  We now know that a bilateral adrenalectomy (BLA, the surgical removal of both adrenal glands) is in my near future…but I need a multitude of lab tests to prove I need it, and give a surgeon enough reasoning to permanently remove two very vital little organs and put me on life-sustaining medication instead.  It is a drastic surgery for a drastic disease, but it is my best chance at a lasting cure with the least amount of hormone replacement and further damage to my other organs.

During this same trip, I was able to attend the Magic Foundation’s adult convention just a few hours from my follow-up appointment.  What an amazing event.  I learned many things, but perhaps more important to me, I was able to meet other people who had my disease, who understood what I was going through, had been there themselves, etc.  They just knew!  I felt at home.  I consider it quite telling that they switched the schedule of the conference to part-days to accommodate our fatigue…  The trip was hard on me, but I am SO glad that I went.

In May I started testing in earnest for my re-diagnosis.  After intensive testing one week, and hit/miss testing the next (I was cycling lower and thus stopped testing), I now have 5 diagnostic-level high lab results.  Because of the severity and permanency of this next surgery, my endocrinologist has asked me to continue testing.  I will start testing again during my next high cortisol cycle in the hopes of doubling the number of diagnostic-level highs that I have and move on to the surgeon referral process.  It’ll take a couple of weeks to get my lab results back (Oh, the agony!), and another couple of weeks to get my endocrinologist appointment and surgical referral if I do indeed have sufficient highs.  I’m *really* hoping he won’t want me to go on medication prior to surgery as I’d like to move forward towards a permanent cure and health!  Not to mention, my deductible is met for the year, so this year would REALLY be nice on my already broken budget.

With the new goal in sight, and some diagnostic testing that proves I’m still ill, we are hopeful.   I’m now nearly bedridden due to the physical exhaustion, but I’m starting to allow myself to plan for a near-future in which I am somewhat functional and active again.  I can’t wait!  Once again, it sounds silly to be so excited and wishful about having surgery to give me Addison’s disease, just as it was to be thrilled to be told I had a tumor, dreaded disease, and needed brain surgery.  But, I’ve been sick for so long and becoming more and more debilitated and sick the longer this has gone on that I am excited at the prospect of any semblance of improvement, health and normalcy!  (Okay, within reason…I am well educated and using logic, etc on this, but…YAY!)  I can feel it is within my reach again.  I’m on the path and moving forward.

———————————————————————

Here is Magic’s video of me: 

And the picture I spoke of in my story is attached (Dr. Friedman did give me verbal permission in-person to share it online –facebook, etc.  I imagine he’d be fine with it published in an email?)

I will include a before/after onset collage of pictures as well.  Use whatever you like.

Catherine blogs at http://muskegfarm.blogspot.com

catherine2

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Sharon, Undiagnosed Bio

1 Comment

A Golden Oldie

Hello. My name is Sharon. Im 42 years old from Saskatchewan, Canada. I’ve been lurking on this site for about 3 weeks now, and finally decided to add my story. I appologize now if  I get carried away, but here goes.

As a youngster, I was always a healthy kid, seldom sick. Always active, very athletic. Sports were my life. But I did always have very heavy periods, and painful ones, right from day 1. Doctor said it was Mother Nature, and was told to live with it.

Got married, had 2 children. In between the 2, I had to have my gallbladder removed, unfortunatly it was an unsuccessful surjury. I still get attacks till this day. A hernia operation, 3 months later, a hysterectomy. (due to endemetriosis) a year later, the removal of one of my ovaries. I must admit I never felt right after the hysterectomy, but chalked it up to being in early menopause.

Then a year ago, my husband had to rush me to the ER. My heart was palpatating so fast I could feel it in my ears. A second visit to the ER for more of the same. The Doctor on that visit seemed annoyed, and said, get your thyroid checked. I thought, why not. I’d been suffering from freezing cold hands and feet anyways. Tests came back normal, and after a holter test, they told me my heart had an electrical problem. I was put on pills to regulate it.

At this time, the weight gain started to elevate. Being thin my whole life, I was startled by this. I’ve always eaten healthy. We are not an eat out type of family, I prefer to cook at home. But I decided to become more strict with what I ate. I always walked for excercise, now I added a half hour of core workouts and a half hour of abdominal workouts, 6 days a week. Plus my daughter, who was a health coach at Herbal Majic, put me on a plan.(minus the herbs, just the menu) Weight loss after 2 months was zero. She said, Mom, this plan works, why is it not working for you? Good question.

Im also into alternative methods to maintaining health as well. I purchased a chi machine and far infrared hothouse. While it has helped with my constipation issues and seems to have kept the gallbladder attacks away, it had done nothing to help aid in weight loss. (my friends and family however, have all lost weight in it)

Then more puzzling symptoms appeared. Always covered in bruises, major hair loss. Feeling very tired. And it showed in my face, because I have countless people who tell me I look tired. Yellow eyes from time to time. (could be from the gallbladder issues) This went on for a year . And in that year, I gained 25 lbs, 5 of that was literally overnight. .

Then 2 months ago, my heart medication stopped working. The palpitations are back, as well as a very low heart rate at times. And a shift from freezing cold hands and feet, to not being able to tolerate being hot. Noticed facial hair, my normally straight hair if full of waves and curls. Wake up drenched in sweat (chalked that up to menopause too) While I have maintained my weight at 142 lbs (115-120 lbs is my norm) my belly continues to grow. If it wasn’t for the hysterectomy, I’d swear I was 6 months pregnant. Then I developed a burning pain in my right shoulder. The pain is always there, makes it hard to use my arm at times. Some days its severe, at times during the day, the pain is tolerable. I thought maybe I dislocated something excercising. After a bath I decided to have a look in the mirror, and discovered a hump on my back I never knew I had. I think the hump and shoulder pain are related. I lay on a far infrared heating pad for the pain and it helps. Pain medication does nothing for it.

But not only is my belly growing larger, I noticed my face and neck growing larger as well. And my once smooth skin has turned rough, and red. Acne breakouts that leave scars and even a couple of skin tags on my face. This is all new to me. After careful examination of my neck, I realized I had a few lumps on the right side, and a fatty pad under my right collarbone. And when I press on that fatty pad, I feel the pain in my shoulder. Im exhausted most days now, from the pain, and not sleeping through the night for the past 2 months. I get up 2 to 3 times a night to pee. The other day I noticed that my pee had a really foul odor.(sorry for the TMI)  But it never burns.

Well, the final straw was a rash that appeared on my back. Even though I had a Doctors appointment in a week, I decided to go to the ER as the rash had me freaked out. I made the mistake of telling the nurse I thought I might have cushings. (had been reading the patient bios. It all seemed to add up) She smirked, and took me to another room. The Doctor came in and in a condecending tone, asked me,”what does google have to say about cushings” I should have told him that I leaned more from actual patients who had been diagnosed than I did from google. But we ran through my symptoms. He assured me he thought I didn’t have it. It was probably all menopause. He asked to see my drivers license and told me he thought I looked no different. I asked him if he could feel the lumps in my neck, he said no. (at this point I knew I was wasting my time)

He asked if I had used a heating pad, I lied and told him No.(Because he ticked me off) That may have been my saving grace. He called in another Doctor to have a look at this rash and neither one could figure it out, so he ordered alot of blood work. (odd though, i’d been using this same heating pad for years, and never developed a rash until now) They took blood sugar (a little high) urine, shoulder x ray. I was told to follow up with my Doctor. A week later my Doctor informs me that my blood sugar  in the ER that day was very high. And a large amount of sugar in my urine. He never said a word to me about my urine that day. She told me that one of the blood tests that came back showed abnormal for lupus.

Although she feels I am neither diabetic, or have lupus, it lets her know that there is something definatly not right. But the affirmation I got was from my Doctor who took one look at me and told me I did in fact look different. She could see the lumps without actually touching them. I guess Im not crazy after all.

She set me up with a specialist who told me flat out that he did not think I have cushings, because he sees the worst of the worst. I then showed him a picture of what I normally look like, and took a pause. Well, he’s looking into plenty of things, he has included cushings after all. And assured me if the tests come back normal, we will retest, and retest. Im also scheduled to have a thyoid ultasound in April. I feel like there is now hope that we might find an answer to all of this.

I went from being a shy person, to someone who is outspoken. I felt I needed to be, because I wasn’t being heard. Im angry at being dismissed over the years, and to the Doctor in the ER, i know i must have bruised his ego by telling him what I felt was wrong with me. Although I have alot of things wrong with me, there was nothing wrong with my hearing that day, when I over heard the Doctor and Nurse making fun of me.

I feel for each and everyone of you who’s stories I have read the past 3 weeks, who have had to endure way worse hardships than myself. I read how often you are mistreated by Doctors, and the horrible situations that you have gone through.

It breaks my heart. But each of those stories have given me the courage to fight for myself and for that, I can’t thank you enough, for being so open in sharing your lives with us.

God Bless You All!

Update May 18, 2012

Since my last post, there has been some developements, I’ve had a thyroid ultrasound and cat scan on my neck. They discovered 3 thyroid nodules the size of a pea. My Internist says that it does not explain my symptoms. An incidental finding was arthritis and disc degeneration in my neck. I am also newly diagnosed as active hypoglycemic.

Another 8 lb weight gain in 2 weeks. During those 2 weeks I lost my appetite and got the flu twice in 1 week. I barely ate enough to stay alive in those 2 weeks and still gained weight. My Internist told me he is at a loss. The swelling in my neck is now on my left side as well, and a chunk of thigh muscle in my left leg has all but disappeared. I ended up spending Mother’s Day in the ER. I woke up that morning with a burning pain in my chest and was so dizzy I couldn’t walk a straight line. Stayed dizzy for the next 5 hours. The heart checked out fine. The ER Doctor listened to my history and wished me luck, he had no idea either. I have had 3 Doctors tell me that if it is cushings, “do you know how hard that is to diagnose?” Meaning it’s to hard for them to figure it out, so they won’t bother. My Internist who tested me for cushings took a blood test, and told me that the 24 hour urine test, is old school. We don’t test for it that way anymore. Just a blood test. Of course mine came back normal. All my tests seem to be coming back normal, however I decided to document my findings as NO ONE believes me, except my Primary Doctor. But she knows nothing about cushings, she just sees the physical changes in me. I video taped the yellowing of my eyes, took pictures of my expanding belly, the hump on my back, the loss of muscle in my leg. And these strange muscle twitches that are happening throughout my body. The only thing my Doctor can do for me is to refer me to an Endo, which she is now doing.

My husband grows increasingly frustrated, and has told me that, you’ll be dead before they find out what’s wrong with you. I feel the same way. Knowing my Birth Mother died when she was 49 years old from a massive heart attack, but had the same physical symptoms as me, is scary. I am almost too tired to fight anymore but my Husband and kids keep me going. It’s been a battle, and I am far from winning yet. Will keep you posted.

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