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Jennifer, Undiagnosed Bio

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Hello, I am a 33 yearl old female who has been living a nightmare for the last 5 years as I have seen my total health delcine before my eyes.

I have gained massive amounts of weight with no medical reason, my monthly cycle has left me, insomnia, severe depression and anxiety for no reason, infertility, allmy obesity is in my stomach and upper back, I have developed sleep apnea from having a thick neck, I have the infamous buffalo hump, hair loss of 50% of my hair, I cannot lose weight no matter what I do, I take these weird week spells where I cannote even get out of bed, hair has literally stopped growing on my legs and other areas of my body, except on my chin and abdomen where I do not want it to grow, my face is round and red and people who see me cannot believe this transformation my body has undertaken and I then have to hear how could have let myself go? If you would just stay on a diet longer than 2 weeks? I am glad that my children are not fat? I could go on and on the emotionally abuse I have had to enudre the last 5-6 years.

I have exercised and exercised to no improvement other than I feel exhausted, I eat a very strict diet, my Mother had to move over here with us because I no longer can care for my children and need her help. I have medical bills back in the states that are like science fiction.

I finally got diagnosed with hypothyroidism and still feel horrible, I have to take Toprol XL for heart palpitations without no explanation from where they are coming from it is so much easier for some physicians to keep just giving you pills instead of trying to figure out what is the root problem.

I now live in a foreign country where it is even harder on me, but I do have an appointment after 10 months with an Endocrinologist here in Doha tomorrow and on November 9th I have an appointment to go see a Cushings Expert in the UAE in Dubai his name is Dr. Taher so I will give an update after theses two visits.

Jennifer
Doha, Qatar

Update December 30, 2007

Hello My name is Jennifer and I am a 33 year old American living in Doha, Qatar (Middle-East), I was finally sent to Dubai and seen an Endocrinologist and he did an MRI and i have two pituitary tumors and he believes that I do have Cushings so he referred me to see Dr. Bill Ludlam, MD in Seatte in January 2008 to get further testing.

I know that there were something worng with me a long time ago but I never knew it was something as stealthy as this disease possibly, I have all the classical symptoms. Also the tesing is so so expensive in the States so I am waiting for the Qatari Governments approval for my medical expenses in Seattle.

I will giva another update soon.

Update May 28, 2008

My current update. I did go see Dr. Ludlam with no avail since my insurance would not pay for him but he did state that I needed further testing so after I left Washington I went to my friends house in Alaska just to have time to think since my husband and I are seperated.

I decided to go back home to West Virginia to be with my family for support and see a Doctor there bringing all my reports and scans to him from the Dr. in the Middle-East and Dr. Ludlmas suggestions.

I seen Dr Yakub and they did tests and all of them came back positive for Cushings my urine, salivory and blood several times came back positive and high for Cushings , also my MRI in January showed that my pituitary tumors are still there.

He is a good doctor and is located in Huntington West Virginia and he not only practices Endocrinology but he is also a Professor of Endocrinology at Marshall University School of Medicine. I will keep all of you updated and thank you so much for your support through this trying time in my life and I pray that all of the Cushies on this board get diagnosed, treated and healed.

Update July 10, 2008

I have finally got my diagnosis and I am heading to the University of Virgnia in Charloettesville on July 23rd! I will update what happens from there. I would also like to say thank you to Christi who has helaped me and talked to me through this difficult time.

Update September 19, 2008

Hello Everyone I am so sorry that it has taken me son long to get back with you I had my Inferior Petrosal Sinus Sampling done this week at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and it is confirmed I have pituitary dependent Cushings and I am scheduled for surgery the first week of October with Dr. John Jane Jr. They are great at the University of Virginia and I am so thankful for them. I am hoping that someone will take me under their wing while I am getting ready for surgery and give me some advice. I would really appreciate the help.

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Jules, Pituitary Bio

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golden-oldie

 

Originally from September 25, 2008

My journey with Cushing’s started six years ago at the age of ten. It started when I developed a duodenal ulcer. It was unbearably painful (this is coming from someone with a very high pain tolerance) and I have extreme stomach problems for at least 4 years following. I went to a gastroenterologist and got it somewhat under control.

This went on until the age of almost 15 when I just couldn’t take it anymore. By this time I had struggled with a very mentally draining family issue that had occurred. I became very irritable and depressed and just assumed it was from this hard period of my life.

I was shocked one day to see purple stretch marks running down my abdomen. I had been rapidly gaining weight and associated them with that. Always being an average size girl this weight gain both freaked me out and made me even more depressed. I was very irritable and unhappy with myself. I don’t overeat and am pretty active being an equestrian rider and working out at least twice a week. It made no sense. I knew something was wrong but had no idea what. My face has always been round but lately it was larger and red.

I decided to go to a new gastro. and was suprised when he felt the base of my neck and told me my thyroid was very enlarged. He quickly referred me to an endocrinologist who diagnosed me with hypothyroidism. I though I’d finally found the answer and expected my new medication to solve my problems.

To my dismay the symptoms only got worse. I was also now noticing fatigue and weakness.I gained 25 pounds that year when I should have been losing it after starting the medication. I was starting to get thirsty and drink all the time. I urinated frequently and sometimes had leakage. My periods from day one were very intense and I had horrible PMS but now they were becoming very weird and I am starting to lose them. I have sweet cravings several times a day and if I miss a meal by an hour I get an intense headache sometimes accompanied be nausea. It is now difficult for me to concentrate on schoolwork and I am extremely fatigued. I can’t bend my joints for long before they tighten and ache. I can no longer bend over without having bad pains when I straighten up again. Some nights I have an awful time trying to sleep and I feel as if life is growing harder and harder by the day.

After dealing with this endocrinologist for a year and having him ignore my other symptoms by telling me that my thyroid levels were normal I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I was very sick deep inside.

I scheduled an appointment with my now lifesaver. My first appointment with Dr.Borg was the best day of my life. He did a full body exam (which the other doctor hadn’t) and immediately told me that I looked like a person with Cushing’s disease. He was completely shocked when I told him that the other doctor hadn’t tested or looked at anything other than my thyroid.

Advice to anyone who might have this disease is to insist that your endocrinologist runs as many blood tests possible and make sure they do a physical exam. This is what I think “saved my life”. I was told by my new doctor that I would have developed type 1 diabetes within 3 years.

After the tests showed that my levels were way off I had an MRI which confirmed a tumor. I should now say that the best day of my life was when he told me that the MRI showed that I had a tumor and this was very fixable. I was so relieved. Now I am seeing a neurosurgeon and am awaiting news of when my surgery is. What I would like to say to anyone struggling with this disease is listen to yourself over anyone else. I had countless doctors tell me that I needed to eat less and work out more.

Deep down inside I knew there was a reason for my weight gain and for the hurt I lived with everyday. I knew that life was better than this. I pushed my parents to bring me to as many doctors as it took until we found the one who could find the culprit. You are the only one who knows how you are really feeling. I know it’s hard but hang in there and know that there is a light at the end of that dark tunnel.

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Stephanie (Stephanie), Pituitary Bio

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The pituitary gland

3 years ago, 2014, I was 43 and very active, running, doing HIIT workouts, volunteering, making and doing stuff, traveling like a maniac.

Then I started getting cysts that were benign but required surgery. One was endometriosis and ovarian, the second, lumbar. Which resulted in my having chronic, severe numbness and nerve pain in my left leg. I attributed the severe weight gain to not exercising.

Then I went to the emergency room for a abscessed cyst in my neck. An ENT did a follow up MRI and found a cyst on the pituitary gland late 2015, but I had to move to Fairbanks. early 2016.

Finally, I have a team of an Endocrinologist specializing in Cushing’s and a Neurosurgeon at Swedish in Seattle. I have to travel but it’s worth it because I’m being treated for something.

I had the first transphenoidal surgery in Aug 2016 that removed the bulk of the macroadema, but there was still elevated cortisol and they found some cyst left. Just had the second surgery January 2017 and will be going to post-op appointment soon.

I still have symptoms of Cushing’s Disease, don’t know yet if I actually have elevated cortisol, but I left the hospital with no change in cortisol from admittance to discharge. I looked at the scale today and despite watching my eating have gained weight- I have gained 60 lbs in 3 years! I still have the severe, chronic nerve pain so am on meds, go to p/t and a pain management specialist.

Have had hypothyroidism and take steroids. I go through cycles of good days but mostly bad with sleeping and bathroom problems and unhappy thinking.

I rarely leave the house anymore. I look and feel ugly and disabled – I just got a handicapped placard. I want to volunteer, travel, go outside but then when I try, I get sick and can’t. So I’m trying to find ways to be active at home or on my own time schedule. I do fiber arts at home but for my own sanity- it’s not good enough to sell but I have enough stuff to sell! I’m also an introvert with a social phobia, I don’t have any extended family, and I’m new to this area so have not made any friends! So this is the great challenge of my life, where all my roads have led me to, to which my strength and knowledge must apply and conquer.

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Rebecca, Undiagnosed Bio

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golden-oldie

 

Originally from Friday, October 3, 2008

I am 24 years old.

Last year my life changed. In less than 3 months I gained 39 kg or 85.8 pounds in less than 4 months. I am constantly tired no matter how much I sleep. I suffer on/off insomnia, my skin is fragile and thin, my hair on my head is falling out in droves and is not growing fast at all. I suffer severe migranes, have horrible stretch marks across my body, have lost my shape, have a swollen (moonface?) face, have extra hair growth on the body and I am bruising easily.

I have little concentration, am very irratible and have noticed personality changes. I get heatrashes in the middle of winter across my face, yet my hands will be frozen. My bones ache and I have lost so much muscle strength. I am so depressed, have a low libido, have no period and lately I am having problems with my eyes.

My normal doctor knows there is something wrong however none of the endo’s I have seen do anything. One told me it was all from depression. Another told me I stuff my face too much. This especially hurt as I was living on 2400 Kilojoules a day, barely surviving, exercising like crazy and still putting on a kilo a week.

My blood tests show my cortisol is high, my platlet level is getting higher and higher, I am constantly showing signs of infections/inflammation, I have hypothyroidism.

In Australia, the only way to diagnose cushings is with a 24hr urine test, yet mine was only “moderately” high. It is affecting everything in my life and I just want to know what it is. One of the hardest parts is the not knowing.

Everytime I eat, people stare and you can tell they think I’m gross. People make nasty comments about my weight and say I should exercise. I don’t do much anymore because I just can’t manage it, but even when I did, nothing positive would happen. Its affecting my friendships and relationships. I feel like such a winge, but I can’t help how hopeless it feels.

I am so grateful for this, for being able to vent with others that actually understand what its like.

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Sheara (sbailey), Pituitary Bio

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golden-oldie

 

A Golden Oldie originally from Tuesday, October 7, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

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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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Lauren (Iskah), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed6

 

My name is Lauren. I am currently being tested for Cushing’s Disease. I’ve read that every patient is different, and from what I can see it is completely true.

I am not entirely sure how long ago my story started. I began seeing my family doctor in high school because I was having menstrual issues. At the time my Mom’s biggest concern was that I was having very irregular periods. She had also noticed that I had been growing hair on my face, under my chin and side burns. I was referred to two different specialists – an Endocrinologist and a Gynecologist to try and determine that root cause.

After multiple appointments with both specialists, the Endocrinologist said that I was on the edge of being Hypo(?) Thyrodism (it’s the one that makes you gain weight) and the Gynecologist said that I had PCOS (or PCOD – the name has recently changed, but I prefer to think of it as a Syndrome instead of a disease). I had a large amount of weight gain between grades 10-11, bumps (or cysts) all over my ovaries, facial hair growth and very irregular periods. I disagreed with the diagnosis.

Even at the age of 15 I felt that it was not the right diagnosis. I had friends with PCOS, and every one of them had insanely painful menstruation and small breasts. This may sound silly, but it was honestly the boobs that made me feel like the diagnosis was wrong. I may have small boobs for my family, but I still carry around size D (or DD depending on my weight) breasts. Either way, the voice of a 15 year old does not tend to carry far and I ended up being prescribed Glumetza (Metformin – used in Diabetes patients) and Yaz (Birth Control).

The Glumetza has always made me sick. I can’t eat my favourite foods with out feeling sick, if I can even get it in my mouth. The one thing I’ve always told my family is that it’s like being pregnant 24/7 with no bun in the oven. I’ve been on and off the medication for years now.

About 6 months ago I went in to see my family Nurse (I’ve stopped seeing my family doctor since, as the diagnosis is always “Lose weight”). I had been having chest pains while working out. Now although I say chest pains, it was more like severe pressure in my left shoulder. I would get dizzy and light headed while running with my sister, and on one occasion I threw up (Just bring it up to my sister, and she will start describing the cheesy spagetti coming flying out of my mouth and on to the yard of one our neighbours.. she still will not run that way).

At the point Erin (the amazing family nurse) also mentioned that my blood pressure had been high, not just recently, but for the last year. Furthermore I was hypertensive. I had heard this term before because for the last year my Mother had been going through her own set of genetic heart issues. My Mom had just been diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease (genetic form of it) and Superventrical Tachycardia (SVT – PSVT specifically). My Mother was also Hypertensive. This was concerning to Erin, as it had already been determined that my Mom’s condition was genetically given to her.

After monitoring my blood pressure for 3 months, with no improvements I was referred to an Internalist who also specialized in Cardiology. He’s great, just for the record. It’s not very often I that I get to speak with a doctor who understands sarcastic humour. Dr. A-R immediately removed me from Mavik (Blood Pressure Pill) as it was actually doing more harm then good. The palpitations that I was having on those pills were beyond intense, and the worst I ever had. They were never long lasting, never lasting more than 20 seconds at absolute most, but I can definitely say that I do not envy my Mom. Dr. A-R diagnosed me with SVT after a 14 day heart monitor. He literally called me the following Monday after I handed the monitor in. He immediately changed my medication from Mavik to a Calcium Channel Blocker. I still have heart episodes but not nearly as many or as bad as when I was on Mavik.

At my 3 month check in last week he said that he was concerned, because he did not believe that the blood pressure and the SVT were actually connected. He believes that I also have Cushing’s Disease. I had some blood work done a few weeks back that showed a very high number for a stress hormone in my blood. Now I am new to this whole thing, and my memory is horrendous, so I honestly do not remember what that hormone is called. I laughed when he said it though, for two reasons. 1. When I was diagnosed with PCOS, I was told that my body didn’t make hormones, hence the thoroughly detested Glumetza. Apparently that’s a different hormone. 2. It’s a stress hormone? Seriously? I am stressed 24/7 between work, home and my constantly changing relationship with the love of my life. I asked him if that would affect the number. As all of you know, it didn’t. At 8am when I had my blood work done, it shouldn’t be that high. He asked that I do a 24 hour Urine test. I waited until this weekend to do it, and I can honestly say that I did not enjoy a single moment of that test.

My Symptoms:

> Weight Gain

> Facial hair

> Irregular Periods

> High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

> Back Pain (Which I always assumed was from my curved spine – scoliosis)

> I have a little bump on my shoulders, but unless you’re looking for it, you won’t see it.

> High levels of stress hormone.. and waiting on results for Cortisol.

> I recently have been struggling with depression

> Anxiety & Irritability are a constant.

> Acne

I am currently waiting on my urine results.. and I have no idea what to expect. I do not even know how long it will take to get results.

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