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Jeanne, Pituitary Cushing’s and Acromegaly Bio (Golden Oldie)

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golden-oldie

 

During the summer of 1999 I was a trim and fit 130 pound woman. I was very athletic and worked out all the time. At that time I had also been taking Tae Kwon Do. I was able to eat anything that I wanted and not gain weight. I wore size 8 pants.

Fast forward to May of 2000. I developed increasing stomach and bowel problems. I had a spastic colon and serious GERD. Along with that came a poof in my belly. Although I was still wearing the same size my stomach started to look “pregnant”. I was referred to a gastroenterologist who began treating my myriad of health issues. He really couldn’t find a reason for all of it but said he could treat it. For awhile I managed okay on the drugs and diet that I was treated with. Everything went in cycles.

During the summer of 2001 my naturally light blonde hair began to change color. It got black and mousy looking at the roots. At the same time it started thinning, the texture was horrible and no longer shiny and baby soft. I developed heat intolerance. I was uncomfortable in 80 degree weather. I also developed strange rashes and red dots on my skin. Later that fall my neck and face started to turn beet red. It stayed that way.

I could no longer fit in my wedding rings and my shoe size went from a size 7 ½ to and 8 1/2. Doctors didn’t find this impressive. My neck went from 13 inches around to 16. I gained 12 pounds in 1 week alone. I started getting real fat in my stomach and armpits, and I could no longer wear normal bras. I also started getting a lot of fat on my upper back. I grew hair in places that women should not grow hair. My face was huge with strange acne outbreaks. I also got acne in weird spots.

At the time I had put on about 20 pounds all in my stomach. When I would try other clothing it wouldn’t work because the next size bigger fit in the waist but the butt and legs were huge. I gave up on real pants and started to wear stretch clothes all the time. At this time I could no longer exercise to my peak performance. I was tired all the time and never felt well and I looked like I was 6 months pregnant. I thought that I was getting old.

January of 2002 my bowel and stomach troubles peaked. I was in and out of the hospital. Although I was following the healthy eating plan and exercising no doctors believed me. My PCP did a TSH test and it came back at 27.48. I was hypothyroid, at that time my estradiol levels were also non-existent. So off I was sent to an Endocrinologist. I was given replacements for both yet nothing improved.

This started an intense year of doctors. I was diagnosed with anything and everything at this point. I was started on the Atkins diet plan. I followed this religiously and walked for up to 2 hours a day and continued to gain weight. By this time I was 165 pounds. Finally realizing that something horrible was wrong with me I started seeking out Endo’s on my own. It led me to one who thought he should do a few 24 UFC’s. One came back high, 2 others came back high normal (33.4 and 33.9 with a range of 2.9-34). They then did serum cortisols which came back below normal. I was frustrated.

It was November by now and I was getting no where fast. At this point I had seen 11 different doctors. The last of which told me that there was no way I was eating healthy and not losing. He even suggested that my fresh sliced berry snack was making me fat. By now I’ developed high blood pressure and high blood sugars. My fasting blood glucose came in at 170.

By this time I was so exhausted and developed such horrid bone pain that I could not even exercise anymore. I remember waking up late one morning and crying. I went downstairs and told my hubby I was sure my back was breaking. It was horrible. I weighed 196 pounds and looked 9 months pregnant with triplets.

I came home and looked the tests up on the internet. I started reading everything that I could find. I knew then that I had Cushing’s. I found the Cushing’s help site. The trouble was that some tests were normal and some were abnormal. Finally in January of 2003 I went to see Dr. Friedman after another patient emailed me. Dr. Friedman tested my 17-Hydroxysteroids and 17- Ketosteroids which came back elevated. He also did some additional salivary cortisols testing. He finally figured out that I not only had Cyclic Cushing’s but also Acromegaly.

After many more tests and some MRI’s my tumors were found. I had pituitary surgery to remove them. I was devastated that I was not cured from the Cushing’s. After much consulting I decided to proceed with a Bilateral Adrenalectomy to cure it once and for all. I am recovering slowly but surely.

I am now 4 months post-op.

Click any thumbnail to view the larger image.

Before Cushing’s [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

In the kitchen [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

Jinxie [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

Jinxie [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

 

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Brenda B (BeBop), PCOS Bio

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I recently read an article in the NY Times magazine about Cushings, and a light bulb went off. I have an appt with an endocrinologist in March, but I’ve been to a renowned large clinic near my home in the early 1990s and was diagnosed with PCOS yet had no cysts on ovaries. I had abdominal striae, rapid wt gain in belly only, facial hair. They also found I had hypertriglyceridema – 1000+ when fasting. They could not put me on estrogen for the PCOS because of the lipid disorder, which they figured was genetic tho I never had any tests to find out why. So I went on Lopid, went on to grad school, shaved and plucked, wondered when the period would come.

I’m 53 now, got married in the mid 90s and we tried for years to have children, finally got pregnant in late 1998 and had a son in 99. Then I got hit with a terrible insomnia, sweating and anxiety and was treated for post partum depression. I did not feel depressed, just could not sleep despite my 9.9 baby sleeping through the night almost immediately. Didn’t sleep the two nights I was in the hospital after delivery. I stopped breastfeeding at 3 weeks and began a tragi-comedy of errors of regular health/mental health treatment, finally Zoloft did the trick as well as Valerian root instead of Ambien (which never worked for me) for sleep. The toughest point was when I hadn’t slept at all for 3 days. But that is another story. Anyway to make this already bad story worse, at 4 months postpartum, my mom died of stage 4 leiomyosarcoma, which she’d had in 1995 in her leg and it had metasticized to her lungs. She was a tough old bird and I think maybe had Cushings come to think back. (And thinking of my family history there may be something there with genetics, ie., MEN, with a sister with uterine fibroids, and two brothers with neurofibroma on their foreheads that were removed). Anyway, she refused all medical treatment after the leg surgery and elected to only have radiation in the leg area and never went to get checked out after that.

My son is now 14 and I’m apparently in menopause. I’ve had the return of the awful insomnia and the rapid heart rate at night. So I’m  back on Zoloft and valerian root immediately and made this endo appt today after reading about cushings here for two weeks.  My other conditions are hypertriglyceridemia (never determined if primary or secondary) for which I take Lovaza and Niacin and it’s down to about 300-400, which is not good. I tried Pravastatin but makes my muscle aches and constantnback aches worse.

In 2005 I had a terrible loose cough that the renowned clinic diagnosed as GERD after being misdiagnosed as asthma for 2 years by the community clinic. I can’t tolerate steroids as they make me an angry insomniac but took them as prescribed when they thought it was asthma. The big clinic diagnosed that as GERD (aciphex immediately worked on the cough) and I was also found to have NAFL (fatty liver), an enlarged spleen, and stil the high triglycerides.

In 2011 I had an uterine polyp (removed) and endometrial hyperplasia for which I get checked every year because I don’t want to/can’t take the progesterone. I would really prefer a hysterectomy to end that but obgyn is reluctant.

This year I’ve had a number of new symptoms: lactose intolerance, all over tendinitis (phy ther prescribed), incontinence and needing to go alot, leg and feet cramps, horrible back aches (member at the massage place), super fatique and muscle weakness (couldn’t even snap down the buckle on my ski boots last weekend and only lasted a couple of hours on the hill, and I love to ski) and blurred vision, eipscleris and early cataracts. I also have suffered from what is diagnosed as vasomotor rhinitis for YEARS, I keep lotion tissue companies in business. It’s been so bad this winter that I went to the doctor this week and was prescribed a steroid. Then I didn’t sleep last night. Oh and if I drink alcohol I get the same rapid heart beat and insomnia too, to add insult to injury. I still have the facial hair despite oh maybe a dozen laser treatments.

Oh, and since my 20s when this all started I’ve always considered myself “round shouldered” which looks to be a buffalo hump. :0

In reading all these stories I am worried that I’ve had Cushings my *entire* life not unlike some other folks here. I don’t trust doctors all that much becuase I had so a horrible time with “postpartum depression” treatrment. I was so angry after that that I spent several years on the board of a women’s reproductive mental health organization fighting to get the Melanie Stokes Act passed. I am too old and tired to do advocacy again but thanks for doing it and being here. I am reading about all you folk fighting for a diagnosis and I fear that I’ll be in the same boat. God bless you and hugs for all. Hang in there. I have. Sometimes barely.

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Catie, Possible Steroid-Induced Bio

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A Golden Oldie

Hi.  My name is Catie.  I am 49. I am asthmatic and have COPD.  I am tired of being sick and no one listening to me and knowing that something is wrong.

I have been pretty sick since November 1999.  I am constantly on steroids of one kind or another because of my lungs being pretty bad.  I have to use steroid inhalers daily and I have an updraft machine that I use daily also.  I had a complete hysterectomy in January 2000.  The doctors all told me that was what the problem was.  I was still sick afterwards.  I started having stomach issues in 2001.  I was vomiting all the time.  My primary doctor of 23 years would not listen to me when I would tell him that something was wrong, that the pain in my stomach was horrible, that I was vomiting bile all of the time.  He told me flat out that couldn’t possibly be true because I wasn’t loosing any weight.

I had a heart attack in 2002 and while in the hospital my heart doctor ordered an endoscope done.  I was then told that I had acute gastritis and GERD along with gallstones.  My gallbladder was removed.  I was still sick most of the time and now on even more medicines to calm down the gastritis.  I was becoming so tired and so weak that my heart doctored ordered a sleep study in 2003.  I am now using a CPAP.  It has helped my sleep and the GERD, but I still felt so bad all of the time.

The weight kept piling on, mainly in my stomach, neck, face and shoulders and what is that bulging fat pad between my shoulders?  I just cry when I have to look in a mirror at myself.  I am not a vain person but I used to have such pretty eyes, now my eye lids are red all of the time.  I wear sunglasses whenever I go anywhere and I never wear any low cut blouses because my chest is red all of the time.  I was becoming so depressed about not being able to loose any weight at all no matter what I did and no one really listening to me when I would tell them that something was wrong.  Why was my face so red all of the time?  Why couldn’t I loose any weight, even a pound?  Why am I so tired and weak all of the time?  I have to have my glasses replaced every 6 months because my vision is so distorted.

One doctor gave me antidepressants that almost killed me.  I am so allergic to medicines now that if a doctor gives me a new one I am afraid to take it, especially all of the new and improved medicines.  I basically gave up on going to any doctors because no one would listen to me.  I am constantly getting pneumonia no matter how careful I am and in 2009 things became worse and I found a new doctor.  He ordered a complete blood test and told me that I was diabetic.  I was put on meds to try to control it but nothing worked.

It doesn’t matter if I eat carbs or not, my sugar is uncontrollable, so I was sent to a specialist.  On my first meeting, a month ago, he sat down with my blood test results and told me that I had abnormal liver levels and my AC1 was 14.8.  Yeah, way high, it should be below 5.  Then he said that just by looking at me he was 95% sure that I had Cushings disease and that is probably the reason for all of my sugar problems that are going on.  I was put on insulin immediately and I had to do a 24 hour UT.  I am supposed to go back this week on Thursday 10/21 for the results.

Nothing has been said about the abnormal liver levels that are pretty high, so I don’t know if or when that will be talked about.  Will the UT show what that is all about?  I had never heard of Cushings and started looking it up to see what all it entailed and I found this site.  I have been reading through the posts and it sure sounds like a lot of my complaints.  I know this sounds awful but I really feel like it would be a relief to say, “YES, this is what is wrong with me!”  Does that make sense?  I do not take hormones, there is too much cancer in my family for me to take them.

I have a horrible time with stress issues and I try to avoid any stressful situations but not knowing what is wrong with you is stressful in itself.  I do take 2 high blood pressure meds, blood thinners because I have 3 stents.  I have 2 arteries that are 50% blocked but they won’t do anything until they are 60% or you have another heart attack.  How awful is that?  I was put on a diuretic and potassium and boy they give me leg cramps that are out of this world but it has helped the pitted edema in my legs.  I take 3 stomach meds when I have flare ups but not all of the time.  I do not drink alcohol or smoke.  I can not exercise much because I just don’t have the energy or the air to do much.

I basically am stuck until someone somewhere decides to try to find out what the problem is and doesn’t just pat me on my head and tell me to not worry and here take this pill.  I am so frustrated and tired.  I have a good family support system but even they get tired of hearing that I am not doing well.  I don’t go anywhere or do anything anymore.  I used to do needlepoint, sew time period clothing for rennaissance fairs and oil paint but I can’t see well enough to do it anymore and my hands shake too bad even if I could see to do it.  Boy, talk about a pity party.  Sorry.  I collect Tonner dolls, Barbie, love to read even if I have to use a magnifier over my glasses, take animal pictures, watch movies, cook and I adore cats.

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Jean (Jinxie) Cushing’s and Acromegaly Bio

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This bio was originally posted 1/26/2008

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Cushing’s and Acromegaly Odyssey

During the summer of 1999 I was a trim and fit 130 pound woman. I was very athletic and worked out all the time. At that time I had also been taking Tae Kwon Do. I was able to eat anything that I wanted and not gain weight. I wore size 8 pants.

Fast forward to May of 2000. I developed increasing stomach and bowel problems. I had a spastic colon and serious GERD. Along with that came a poof in my belly. Although I was still wearing the same size my stomach started to look “pregnant”. I was referred to a gastroenterologist who began treating my myriad of health issues. He really couldn’t find a reason for all of it but said he could treat it. For awhile I managed okay on the drugs and diet that I was treated with. Everything went in cycles.

During the summer of 2001 my naturally light blonde hair began to change color. It got black and mousy looking at the roots. At the same time it started thinning, the texture was horrible and no longer shiny and baby soft. I developed heat intolerance. I was uncomfortable in 80 degree weather. I also developed strange rashes and red dots on my skin. Later that fall my neck and face started to turn beet red. It stayed that way.

I could no longer fit in my wedding rings and my shoe size went from a size 7 ½ to and 8 1/2. Doctors didn’t find this impressive. My neck went from 13 inches around to 16. I gained 12 pounds in 1 week alone. I started getting real fat in my stomach and armpits, and I could no longer wear normal bras. I also started getting a lot of fat on my upper back. I grew hair in places that women should not grow hair. My face was huge with strange acne outbreaks. I also got acne in weird spots.

At the time I had put on about 20 pounds all in my stomach. When I would try other clothing it wouldn’t work because the next size bigger fit in the waist but the butt and legs were huge. I gave up on real pants and started to wear stretch clothes all the time. At this time I could no longer exercise to my peak performance. I was tired all the time and never felt well and I looked like I was 6 months pregnant. I thought that I was getting old.

January of 2002 my bowel and stomach troubles peaked. I was in and out of the hospital. Although I was following the healthy eating plan and exercising no doctors believed me. My PCP did a TSH test and it came back at 27.48. I was hypothyroid, at that time my estradiol levels were also non-existent. So off I was sent to an Endocrinologist. I was given replacements for both yet nothing improved.

This started an intense year of doctors. I was diagnosed with anything and everything at this point. I was started on the Atkins diet plan. I followed this religiously and walked for up to 2 hours a day and continued to gain weight. By this time I was 165 pounds. Finally realizing that something horrible was wrong with me I started seeking out Endo’s on my own. It led me to one who thought he should do a few 24 UFC’s. One came back high, 2 others came back high normal (33.4 and 33.9 with a range of 2.9-34). They then did serum cortisols which came back below normal. I was frustrated.

It was November by now and I was getting no where fast. At this point I had seen 11 different doctors. The last of which told me that there was no way I was eating healthy and not losing. He even suggested that my fresh sliced berry snack was making me fat. By now I’ developed high blood pressure and high blood sugars. My fasting blood glucose came in at 170.

By this time I was so exhausted and developed such horrid bone pain that I could not even exercise anymore. I remember waking up late one morning and crying. I went downstairs and told my hubby I was sure my back was breaking. It was horrible. I weighed 196 pounds and looked 9 months pregnant with triplets.

I came home and looked the tests up on the internet. I started reading everything that I could find. I knew then that I had Cushing’s. I found the Cushing’s help site. The trouble was that some tests were normal and some were abnormal. Finally in January of 2003 I went to see Dr. Friedman after another patient emailed me. Dr. Friedman tested my 17-Hydroxysteroids and 17- Ketosteroids which came back elevated. He also did some additional salivary cortisols testing. He finally figured out that I not only had Cyclic Cushing’s but also Acromegaly.

After many more tests and some MRI’s my tumors were found. I had pituitary surgery to remove them. I was devastated that I was not cured from the Cushing’s. After much consulting I decided to proceed with a Bilateral Adrenalectomy to cure it once and for all. I am recovering slowly but surely.

I am now 4 months post-op.

Click any thumbnail to view the larger image.

Before Cushing’s [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

In the kitchen [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

Jinxie [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

Jinxie [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

Dana E (Dana), Undiagnosed Bio

3 Comments

Hello, my name is Dana. I am a 43 year old female. I live near Dallas, TX. I attend college and spend allot of my time taking care of my crazy family, whom I love very much. After reading posts on this site I decided to document my symptoms and experiences.

A couple of days ago I was discussing my endoscopy and colonoscopy results with my mother-in-law. They showed I have GERD, esophagitis, stomach erythema, duodenitis, hiatal hernia, hemorrhoids, nine polyps, and IBS. Wow. After all that she asked me if I was checked for goiter. GOITER? I told her I was just fat. Over the last several years I have gained weight. I did the Atkins diet in 2000 and lost 70 lbs, but gained back 100. Most of my weight is in my abdomen, face and neck. I have relatively small legs, hips and rear. I have had several people think I was pregnant and told how disproportionate my body is. Recently my kids and even my 4 year old grandson have commented on my weight and health. I have noticed that my neck is getting larger, despite being the same weight for a while now.  I have poor eating habits, which I am trying to change. I only eat once or twice a day and I am an active person. I do not exercise except for walking. After my mother-in-laws comment I decided to do some research.

I have almost every symptom of Cushing’s. Central obesity, thinning skin and bruising, especially on my hands. Oral candidiasis, axillary and cervical skin tags, round, fat, red face and neck, oily skin and hair with recent increased acne, headaches, fat pad on back of neck, blurry vision, fatigue, back pain, arm weakness, heat intolerance, pain in joints and swelling in hands and feet, thirst, facial hair, and increased heart rate at weird times. I have been treated for depression/bi-polar for several years now. It took two and a half years of experimenting to find something that would keep me stable. I still have emotional instability, depression, cognitive difficulties, and mood swings. I have many stretch marks but only a few are red. I have very fair skin so my coloring is not the same as others. The only symptoms I do not have are irregular periods. I do have what feels like a soft mass under my chin fat. There are lymph nodes under the area, so this could be the cause.

I pray I am able to find a doctor who will not dismiss my symptoms as some of you have experienced. My first appointment will be next week with my primary care physician and we will go from there. Wish me luck and I will update regularly.

Does anyone know of a good endocrinologist in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area?

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