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Melissa (SweetMelisa), Adrenal Bio

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adrenal-glands

Hello everyone,

First, thank you all for sharing your stories. While I am not thrilled to me joining the group, it is nice not feeling alone in this journey anymore. My thoughts and prayers to all of you who have traveled this path and continue to do so.

My case is rather complex. It seems I have a myriad of problems going on and I am still navigating toward a diagnosis. I am a 41 year old who is 5’5 and last I checked, idling at 184 lbs despite a daily calorie intake of around 1200.

In brief, I have battled weight issues since puberty despite being a relatively healthy eater and involved in sports until I was 16. Other than weight issues I have had a relatively healthy life until I decided to start having kids in 2004 (age 28).

First pregnancy: diagnosed with “borderline” gestational diabetes. Monitored with finger sticks before meals and controlled by diet. Despite healthy eating, I gained over 60lbs with my first pregnancy and gave birth to a nearly 10 lb baby via c-section. My cycles became horrible thereafter.

Second pregnancy: experienced secondary infertility issues (it took us 13 months to conceive). I was diagnosed with low Progesterone and put on a supplement into the beginning of my second trimester. Delivered a healthy baby, nearly 9lbs, via c-section. I gained 35-40lbs with that pregnancy.

About a year or a little less after my second pregnancy (around 2010) I was diagnosed with hypertension after my readings stayed in the 140-150s/80s-mid 90s. I was placed on a hypertension medication but I discontinued it after about 6 months because of the development of a chronic cough (and thinking I could change my lifestyle a bit and the BP issue would follow suit). I was also experiencing pretty bad fluid retention in my feet and ankles but nothing was done about that.

During 2011 to the end of 2014 I lost my health insurance and therefore did not seek any medical care. In 2015 I regained it and changed PCPs to an internist since I was approaching 40 and knew the next phase of life could bring on major health changes. Boy did I plan that right.

Feb 2015 I had a routine workup done with my new doctor. The labs showed elevated triglycerides, a BP of 182/128 (yikes), continued fluid retention (so bad at times I can’t fit into anything other than slide on shoes) and a very low Vitamin D level. My new doctor placed my on a BP med with a diuretic, ordered me to go on the Atkins diet, watch my sodium intake and to take 5000mg of Vitamin D a day. Then follow up in 6 months.

At the 6 month follow up, my triglycerides barely decreased, instead of losing weight on Atkins, I gained 6 lbs and despite the diuretic, I was still having fluid retention (though not consistent). (They did not believe that I had changed my eating habits by the way). I was told I needed to really focus on eating better and I was scheduled for a 3 month follow up and if I didn’t lose weight then we would have to have a more serious talk (I was 172lbs at my first appointment). I missed the 3 month follow up because I am also a caregiver to a chronically ill parent.

Fast forward to March 2016 (late March), I developed an upper respiratory infection. I typically get them every April but this one was very different. The fatigue was debilitating. It hit me like a ton of bricks at the checkout counter of a drug store and it took every single remaining ounce of energy for me to walk to my car, a mere 100′ away. I was diagnosed as having a bad viral bug but………..they also found a new heart murmur and I had informed them about a couple episodes of shortness of breath and waking up with a racing heartbeat (110 beats per minute). They put me on a steroid and had me follow up in a week or so.

April 2016 I followed up and while there, pointed out a palpable mass just above my navel and slightly to the right. I told them about a weird abdominal “catching” type pain I had been experiencing since last Fall and maybe it was adhesions from c-sections or a hernia. And so began the unfolding of many many tests and findings ever since……….

During the journey to figure out the hernia (which was finally picked up by a 2nd surgeon at a teaching hospital) I began experiencing relentless right upper quadrant pain which led to a lot more tests, several specialists (a GI doc, 2 surgeons, 1 OB Nurse Practitioner, 1 OBGYN and my PCP).

Findings:
Gallbladder normal on ultrasound, normal on CT with contrast and normal on MRI but HIDA Scan shows an ejection fraction rate of 18% (Cholecystectomy recommended). The 24/7 pain has subsided but I do have pain daily though oddly enough, it is triggered by not eating as well as eating (and more often by healthy food than fatty ones).

CT with contrast showed bilateral adrenal adenomas. An in phase/outphase MRI was ordered. MRI result: 2.6cm adenoma on right adrenal, 1.7cm adenoma on left adrenal 3 lesions (cystic type) on my liver. (I asked my PCP if I should be concerned about these, He said no “They’re incidentalomas”. I don’t think they have anything to do with what is going on with you.” I told him I had read the Endocrinology Society recommended a workup to see if they are functioning or nonfunctioning and that I was concerned about my weight gain (difficulty losing it over the years), increasingly bad blood pressure and fluid retention issues. He said he would to the 1mg dexamethasone suppression test but to wait to have it done after I had other workups done). I could tell he was only ordering the test to appease me. More on that in a minute.

GI specialist did an endoscopy and colonoscopy: Endo fine, colonoscopy discovered 3 polyps (2 benign, 1 precancerous adenomatous) and a diagnosis of mild diverticulosis

OB visit led to 3 vaginal ultrasounds and the discovery and tracking of a suspicious, large ovarian cyst (turned out to be hemorrhagic) and a thickened endometrium. Endometrial biopsy done – negative for hyperplasia and cancer.

After all of my other testing sessions slowed down, I went in to have the 1mg dexamethasone suppression test done (July). My AM cortisol came back with a result of 5.9 (my PCP is calling this borderline). He ordered the 2 day test per endo protocol…..the AM cortisol came back 7.1 and my ACTH came back undetectable. I sent him a journal from the Endo Society with a bunch of hi-lighting and that I wondered if we needed to check for Aldosterone issues because of the fluid retention. He ordered an Aldosterone/Renin Ratio and 1 other lab test. Thursday will be 2 weeks and I have still not received the results. I do have an appointment to meet with him next week for him to “discuss” all of these findings. I am suspecting at this point, that I have sub-clinical cushings or something of that nature.

I have been delaying my cholecystectomy and hernia repair surgery pending these tests. Now I am concerned that I will be adding at least, a unilateral adrenalectomy to the list, if not bilateral which frankly, scares me quite a bit. I will be requesting a referral to Johns Hopkins or Duke to see an Endocrinologist. I asked my PCP early on when the adrenal adenomas were found if I should be referred to one and he said he didn’t think it was necessary. I am losing quick confidence in my PCP though he is well respected by other patients that I know.

Anyway, thus is my story…….and I know more is to come.

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Kim, Undiagnosed Bio

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golden-oldie

Hello, everyone. Below is information from my introduction at Cushings-Help.

“So, about me…I’ve had various non-specific symptoms since I was a child and various specific diagnoses as an adult … hypothyroid, fibromyalgia, adult ADD (misdiagnosed and treated as bipolar from 2005-2008), chronic atrophic gastritis and chronic duodenitis (diagnosed via biopsy), colon polyps, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, sinus polyps, insomnia alternating with hypersomnia (sometimes I sleep up to 15 hours a day), plus an REM sleep disorder (REM sleep latency 287 min/378.5 total sleep time, REM sleep 37.5 min with 12 upper airway resistance episodes during that time) … and the list goes on. I have multiple vitamin deficiencies too (C, D, zinc and iron) and other abnormal blood levels (low arginine and dopamine, and high folic acid, glutamine, glycine, norepinephrine and ornithine). The levels that made some people suspect Cushing’s (vs. PCOS) were my DHEA and Testosterone. My highest DHEA was 1342, lowest Free T is 0.2.

From a CT scan of my abdomen in August 2011, I know there’s a “probably benign” lesion on my liver, a cyst on my kidney (plus medullary sponge kidney), a 10 mm cyst on my ovary and an umbilical hernia. My PCP considers all of this normal. Also, I’ve had four fractures as an adult (two in 2008 alone, one that required surgery) partly because of poor balance and coordination (frequent trips and falls, dropping things, etc.). I was through an EEG and 24-hour EKG because I fainted and collapsed on the sidewalk outside of my kids’ school at the end of December 2011. Those tests were normal.

…In terms of my physical appearance, I don’t have stretch marks but the shape of my face changes almost daily. It’s been hard for me to piece together a visual timeline since I hate having my picture taken and therefore, steer clear of camera lenses. (NOTE: I did manage to put a timeline together…You can find it here. http://cushings.invisionzone.com/index.php?app=gallery&album=408) How sad is it that I have very few pics with my kids because the person I see in the mirror is a stranger! I don’t even resemble the person I once was…my weight just continues to creep up regardless of how little I eat or how much I exercise. The fatigue has gotten REALLY bad lately and my tolerance for any physical activity is gone. I have regular shortness of breath and my blood pressure and heart rates are all over the place. Just the thought of doing stairs to throw in a load of laundry is overwhelming. And after showering to get ready to go somewhere, the only place I’m ready to go is back to bed. I also have a small buffalo hump and my neck is very thick. 16″ necklaces that used to fit comfortably won’t even close now.”

January 30, 2012

Today I had an initial appt with an endo who ordered the following tests:

Gave blood today to measure:

UR/CS/CBC/FT4/T3RIA/TSH (have confirmed hypothyroid; TSH has been remaining high even on 125 mcg Synthroid)

GONAD #1

Thyroid Antibodies

Vitamin B12/Folate

IGF-1 (have two kids with GHD being treated, third child is being tested; endo suspects IGF-1 may come back low)

IGF-BP3

ACTH

Cortisol

Cardio CRP

DHEA (history of high DHEA … 554, 717, 1342)

Ferritin

Prolactin

Free Testosterone (history of low Free T)

Vitamin D, 25 (have confirmed Vitamin D deficiency, rechecking levels)

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B6

Vitamin C

Tuesday, January 31 having DEXA scan of spine, hips, and right wrist and ankle (have had multiple fractures on right side…cuboid (foot), anterior process (heel), elbow, wrist).

Thursday, February 3 having nerve conduction study because of peripheral neuropathy in hands and feet

Friday, February 4 meeting with opthamalogist for vision testing (peripheral vision is diminished, causing dizziness, balance issues, resulting in falls)

I’m waiting for endo’s order to have an MRI of the pituitary. Endo reviewing report from the CT scan I had in December 2011 after my fainting episode/collapes on the sidewalk outside my kids’ school. The report says nothing except there were not hemmorages, so anticipate order for MRI will be coming soon.

This seems like a lot of tests, but I think the endo wants to determine where to dig deeper. The nurse practitioner asked a lot of questions that led me to believe she may have been suspecting Cushing’s and/or growth hormone deficiency. And they were interested in a timeline I’d put together demonstrating my eight month experience on Ketoconazole, which allowed me to shed weight and caused an improvement of symptoms. (The weight went back up and symptoms flared off Keto as posted above.)

I guess I’m in a waiting pattern now as the endo pulls together the results of all these tests and decides which tests will be next. The only next test that was discussed was GH stim testing, again leading me to believe the endo may think he’ll uncover that issue, especially since I have two kids who are GHD. (My son also has smallish pituitary and chiari malformation and my daughter has a Rathke’s cleft cyst.) I know a lot of the standard Cushing’s tests are missing from the above list, but this is a starting point. I’ve never had such a full endocrine workup, so at least I’ll have a baseline.

I’ll post more about my journey as my test results start coming in.

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Marie C (Marie Conley), Pituitary Bio

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I was diagnosed in June 2012 with Cushing’s Disease after almost three years of a variety of illnesses.

My husband and 8 year son have seen me through a brain surgery and its failure, permanent DI, removal of my adrenal glands, a hernia surgery, a severe hip fracture, four additional hospital stays including 10 ER visits.

I used humor to get me through these past couple years (and prayer). I needed to laugh as I gained 81 pounds (while doing a sprint Tri, running a 10k, and working out when I wasn’t on crutches), having hairy arms, a hump on your back and so much more.

I have been lucky enough to continue to work and am blessed with a supportive family and friends.  I hate this disease for so many reasons but I am not going to give in to it.

I feel very lucky that someone directed me to this site and I am grateful for the opportunity to not feel alone on this journey.

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Claudia C, Pituitary Bio

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A Golden Oldie

The pituitary gland

The pituitary gland

44 years old female, living in Guatemala diagnosed cushing disease 6 years ago, diabetic, hipertension, and 3 column hernias.

Try the surgery for the adenoma by it fail.

Try radiotherapy, but still waiting.

Suffering this damn disease.

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Sharon, Undiagnosed Bio

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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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