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J, Pituitary Bio

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When I began this journey in 1999, I could only find one link for pseudo cushings on Google. I actually gave up finding anyone else like me until today. I was misdiagnosed several times before 2001, when I started seeing Dr. David Schteingart at the University of Michigan (two hours from my home). I was to the point where I was lactating, was growing facial and chest hair, was covered in acne from stem to stern, was passing out, had gained 30 pounds in one month – all around my stomach, was developing a hump on my back, was losing hair, had lost strength, memory, and self-respect, and some days couldn’t even raise my head.

With high cortisol, prolactin, and DHEA I was told I had PCOS even though I have never missed a period in my life. I was then told I had diabetes because I had had a high sugar read when I was pregnant in 1995. I was treated with birth control pills, anti-depressants, and diabetic meds. All of these things made me worse.

Finally, I had an MRI that showed a 2-3 mm mircroadenoma on my pituitary. Two more MRIs confirmed the findings. I was sent off to U of M to their pituitary clinic to find that my pituitary was fine. They sent me to their endocrinology department where I was diagnosed with pseudo cushings. I spent several years traveling to U of M monthly and began taking oral ketoconazole. Yes, that’s right, the same stuff that’s in Nizoral the dandruff shampoo. It took about two years on this stuff for me to develop an allergy. Dr. Steingart told me to choose: relief from cushings or relief from the hives that covered 90 percent of my body. I chose to give up the hives and have not taken ketoconazole since 2004. This is what I have come to realize: I cannot live in a stressful life. If I miss sleep, don’t eat well, or stress out at work, my cortisol sky rockets and I’m back to square one. This makes working almost impossible. My adrenals start off and don’t stop when I’m in a pressure situation. I am like a Southern Belle with the vapors pretty much all of the time. The only difference is: I want to live my life. I want to return to my career and be supermom; my efforts are continually thwarted by my body.

I’m anxious to hear if there are others like me out there in the world and how they have coped and made a go of it.

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Abigail B (helpmepleez), Pituitary Bio

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The pituitary gland

The pituitary gland

 

 

I am 35 and I have been sick for the 13 years since May 2003, and for the first 12 years I did not have the correct diagnosis. My symptoms first started out with what seemed like sinus infections after sinus infection since then I have seen every different type specialist all across the country from the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and doctor from all the top hospitals in NYC.

Three years ago I took a 24hr urine cortisol test that came back high (74) however after a negative dexamethasone test the endocrinologist ruled out cushings disease. I retook the 24hr urine test again the next year and the results were high 24hr urine (129) and negative dexamethasone test.

Over the past 4 months i have taken 8 -24hr urine test with the results between 60 -135 and I still can not get a positive dexamehtasone test or a positive saliva test.

My ACTH level is 8.

I had a mri that shows pitutary microadenoma

CT scan of my adrenals came back negative.

I tried ketoconazole raised the dose it to 1200mg a day without it helping at all. My symptoms got worse and cosrtisol levels were still between 45-60 (they got higher after raising the dose.

I have also gained weight usually in sudden burst of 2-3 lbs in one weekend even if I do not eat anything extra,

The doctor thinks I have cyclic cushings however without a two biochemical results documenting the cause of the increase cortisol he is at a loss how to proceed.

 

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Neale O (NealeO), Pituitary Bio

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pituitary-gland

 

I was diagnosed with Cushings Disease in September of 2015.

I used to be skinny. I was 160 lbs dripping wet. I had a thin face and exercised regularly. In fact, up until 2 years ago, I was doing CrossFit every morning at 5AM, and was pretty good at it!

I guess about 5-6 years ago, I started putting on weight. It started with what I thought was just a beer belly. I was dating a great girl and we went out a lot to eat and drink. I figured I was just getting fat and happy. Fast forward (got married to her) and we started to live our lives together. One day (2012) I was going in for a routine physical and was going over some things with my PCP. He suggested we do a finger prick to check my Glucose levels. The sample showed a 567. He was astonished, and immediately admitted me to the hospital. I ended up taking 5 IV bags as I was severely dehydrated. My PCP then schedule me in for the next day so that he could tell me I had Type 2 Diabetes (runs in family). They started me on drugs and insulin injections. So there I was, being treated for Diabetes (the Sugars as they call them) and High Blood Pressure (HBP).

This went on for a while and my wife and I decided to moved to Florida. In the mean time my undiagnosed Cushings was starting to rear it’s ugly head. Big belly, stretch marks, limb atrophy, fatigue, major depression, reduced libido, moon-pie face, thin skin and bruising easily. The depression caused a lot of issues with my marriage and we ended up getting a divorce. I moved back to Baltimore for support from my family.

I worked at my uncles shop for about a year, then was offered a new job with a great company and I jumped at the chance. By this time, the atrophy in my legs had started to really take effect. The job ended up being too physical for me and I had to resign after 1 one month.

I decided to see a new PCP as I was not happy with my previous one. Within the first 20 minutes of our initial consult, she recognized the Cushings symptoms and quickly referred me to the Endo Department (Dr. Taylor) at Mercy Medical. She had me do a bunch of blood work and urine tests. The cortisol numbers were off the charts.

She then referred me to Dr. Salvatori at John’s Hopkins Hospital (JHH). I was very lucky as she got me in there quickly. After speaking with him, he thought I had a Pituitary adenoma based on the crazy ACTH levels. We did and MRI, and an IPSS. The IPSS showed it was secreting from the right side mostly. The left had some high numbers, but nothing like the other side. In the MRI, they could not see the tumor.

Dr. Salvatori suggested on more thing before resorting to surgery. I am to have a “wet MRI” in January., 2016 This should give a much clearer scan. He also started me on Ketoconozale.

This is all happening very fast (diagnosed Sept 2015), and I am looking forward to the upcoming treatments.

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Robert, Pituitary Bio (Golden Oldie)

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golden-oldie

 

My Comments: (will add more later, written by wife)

Pituitary surgery 12/15/05 but not able to get it all.
33 treatments of radiation in April/May 2006
April 2007 still have Cortisol level of 166, back on Ketaconozole
remaining tumor measures 2.6 cm x 1.8 x 1.4

age 51

Cushing’s has lead to:
diastolic heart failure
osteoporosis
gaining 60+ pounds
restless legs
muscle weakness
fatigue
dry heaves (anyone else have this??)
anxiety, depression, restlessness

currently monitoring Cortisol levels, to have another MRI in August
keeping adrenalectomy as last resort

would appreciate tips/suggestions….

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Edith T, Adrenal Bio (Golden Oldie)

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golden-oldie

 

First diagnosed with Cushing’s November 1999

Petrosal sampling confirms Cushing’s in left lobe of pituitary March 2000

Transphenoidal surgery June 2000 (not successful)

From July 2000 – September 2001 on 200 – 400 mg of ketoconazole

Lost weight from July 2000 – November 2000

Began significantly gaining weight again in March of this year (2001)

Currently reshowing all signs of Cushing’s (for a while the buffalo hump and purple striae all but vanished – oh well – they’re back, as is the mid-riff bulge – urgh!)

Still hiking, biking, swimming, and cavorting and refusing to let this whole thing get me down (yeah, right – who am I kidding)

Endocrinologist currently encouraging me to consider stereotactic radiosurgery as I have made it clear I have no desire to allow anyone to remove my adrenal glands (not that I am any more interested in having my pituitary irradiated when it’s a hit or miss deal).

And that’s my history.

Edith T
from Squamish, British Columbia, Canada

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Dennis O, Pituitary Bio

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pituitary-gland

 

In February 2013 I was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease.

Over the previous 6 years, I have suffered from a variety of problems including Deep Vein Thrombosis and a Pulmonary Embolism, compressed fracture of the spine, torn achilles (right leg), ruptured achilles (left leg), several ulcers in my left leg and one in my right, hypertension, high cholesterol and atrial fibrillation. Lesser injuries included a number of torn hamstrings and groins. Prior to that, I had no significant medical problems.

I also put on 14kg (30 pound) in weight. Up to 1997, I was a little overweight but very fit, taking part in distance running including a half marathon. My training routine lessened and I put on weight. The injuries I was having limited my ability to train.

My legs become very weak and have that ache that you get from working out – something which I have had to discontinue due to the weakness. Climbing stairs in particular was difficult. I have stenosis of the spine which causes sciatica which is very painful. I have lost strength in my arms as well as my legs.

When I was diagnosed with possible Cushings, I had never heard of the disease and of course got busy on the internet and read about the symptoms, causes and cures. I found myself hoping to have the disease which is bizarre given the seriousness of the condition and the havoc it causes on the body. The fact that it is not only curable but most of the problems are reversible offers me a quality of life that I thought I could never have again. (since then it has become apparent only some of the problems are likely to reverse)

I underwent testing to confirm I had Cushing’s syndrome and the particular form I had (turned out to be Cushing’s disease). I had extremely high levels of cortisol and a combination of the cortisol and dexamethasone used for testing sent me into a manic state. I had turns where I couldn’t speak. These lasted for about a minute and I had many of them.

I went by ambulance to hospital by ambulance and was admitted. I remained in hospital for 9 weeks, the first 5 of which I was in a manic state. I can’t remember much about that but from all reports I was a very difficult patient. The medical staff tried a variety of treatments until they finally found one which worked.

While was happening, I had several MRI scans on my pituitary gland which failed to find the tumour.

Since then I have had the MRI’s repeated on two occasional but to no avail. This is a common problem with the disease because the tumour is very small

My spell in hospital weakened me to the stage where I was in a wheelchair. I took on rehabilitation and am now walking unaided, albeit with a limp. The pace I can walk is slow but gradually improving. All in all my health has improved dramatically.’

My doctors have decided that they could not operate on me due to my poor health and the fact that they could not find the tumour. As a temporary measure I am taking ketoconozole to control my cortisol levels. That is working well and I am being to show signs that the symptoms of Cushing’s are reversing (loss of weight and, moon face going and strength returning).  However, my cortisol levels are at the high end of normal and this appears to be limiting the pace of my recovery.

Ketoconozole is not a drug which should be taken for long periods, and we are hoping that the tumour shows in future scans. An added complication is that the original manufacturer has ceased manufacture and I am reliant on a generic I am importing from India.

I have returned to playing golf generally twice a week. I have been attending a specialised gym which works on strengthening my back. The pain is becoming less frequent and less in intensity.

I do suffer from excessive swelling in my legs, particularly the left leg where I had the DVT. My vascular surgeon operated on this to improve blood flow. He believes that the current swelling is due to poor circulation and has prescribed full length stockings to be worn during waking hours. He also recommends a targeted exercise program to improve the blood flow in my leg.

I have recently started working with a physio and this seems to be helping.

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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.

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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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