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In Memory: Melinda Smith 1988-2014

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melinda-smith

 

Sadly, we lost another Cushing’s patient on Friday, May 9, 2014.  Melinda was a member of the Cushing’s Help message boards since Jun 24,  2007.

She was only 25 and leaves behind a young son and many loving family members.

Just last year she posted:

I’m not really sure where to put this post so I’ll just put it here under miscellaneous.

Last Friday was probably the closest I’ve ever come to actually dying. Luckily, my dad came downstairs to check on me. At some point Friday I completely blacked out and my dad found me totally unresponsive, barely breathing with foam in my mouth. The paramedics told my dad that if he hadn’t found me when he did I would of definitely died.

Nobody knows what caused this to happen. The hospital is trying to say that I overdosed on drugs, which is TOTALLY 100% untrue. Especially, since I hadn’t even taken my medicine because I was staying up with my mom to help her clean and move my stuff upstairs from the basement. By the time the ambulance got me to the hospital I was still unresponsive and my kidneys had shut down.

I don’t remember anything from Friday or really much from Thursday night. All I remember is waking up in the ICU at the hospital in the middle of the night with some grumpy nurses who kept asking me why I tried to kill myself. I just don’t understand where they got the idea that I was trying to commit suicide, all of my medication was accounted for plus some.

Another thing, now I’m on oxygen 24/7. Since Friday I have a hard time breathing so the hospital sent me home with an oxygen tank. I feel so old. I’m only 24 and I don’t even smoke yet I’m stuck with an oxygen tank. Something just isn’t right.

We talked with my regular doctor and she thinks that I might of had a stroke or maybe a seizure. I go see her on Wednesday. But until then I can’t do anything and have to be supervised at all times.

It’s really strange, I’m being treated like a baby but I feel like I’m 80. I just want to be a normal 24 year old and feel like my age.

 

Information from the obituary at http://www.stephenson-wyman.com/obituaries/Melinda-Smith/#!/Obituary:

Melinda “Mindy” Smith, age 25, of Harrison, passed away suddenly on Friday, May 9, at her home. Mindy had attended Farwell High School where she had been an honor student and participated in track and cheerleading. She graduated from Clare High School in 2005. She was currently attending college and was hoping to pursue a career as a Psychiatrist. Mindy talked often of becoming a doctor to help others who were struggling with Cushing’s Disease.

Mindy had been battling a fight with Cushing’s Disease since 2005. She fought hard and long, but unfortunately it was a fight that she could not win. She was loved by many, but will be missed by many more.

Mindy is survived by her son, Landon Smith, parents, Deb (Marc) Davis, Fred (Nola) Riggs, of Harrison, and Ralph Rydman, her special friend, Ryan Smith, siblings, Alisha Green of Farwell, Marrissa Rydman of Gresham, Oregon, Misty Riggs of Weidman and Mike Riggs and Seth Riggs both of Florida, her grandparents, Gary (Penny) Smith of Clare, Sheryl (Phil) Wentworth of Harrison, Janet Riggs of Harrison, and Jay Davis of Clare. Also surviving are many aunts, uncles, and cousins that will miss her dearly. She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Dawn Wiggins of Muskegon, Harold Riggs of Harrison, and Carol Davis of Clare.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, May 14, at 2:00 PM at the Clare Chapel of Stephenson-Wyman Funeral Home with pastor John Kasper officiating. Friends may meet with her family at the funeral home on Wednesday from 11 AM until the time of services. Memorials may be directed to the family.

Rest in peace, Melinda

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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In Memory of Melinda Smith 1988-2014

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melinda-smith

 

Sadly, we lost another Cushing’s patient on Friday, May 9, 2014.  Melinda was a member of the Cushing’s Help message boards since Jun 24,  2007.

She was only 25 and leaft behind a young son and many loving family members.

Just last year she posted:

I’m not really sure where to put this post so I’ll just put it here under miscellaneous.

Last Friday was probably the closest I’ve ever come to actually dying. Luckily, my dad came downstairs to check on me. At some point Friday I completely blacked out and my dad found me totally unresponsive, barely breathing with foam in my mouth. The paramedics told my dad that if he hadn’t found me when he did I would of definitely died.

Nobody knows what caused this to happen. The hospital is trying to say that I overdosed on drugs, which is TOTALLY 100% untrue. Especially, since I hadn’t even taken my medicine because I was staying up with my mom to help her clean and move my stuff upstairs from the basement. By the time the ambulance got me to the hospital I was still unresponsive and my kidneys had shut down.

I don’t remember anything from Friday or really much from Thursday night. All I remember is waking up in the ICU at the hospital in the middle of the night with some grumpy nurses who kept asking me why I tried to kill myself. I just don’t understand where they got the idea that I was trying to commit suicide, all of my medication was accounted for plus some.

Another thing, now I’m on oxygen 24/7. Since Friday I have a hard time breathing so the hospital sent me home with an oxygen tank. I feel so old. I’m only 24 and I don’t even smoke yet I’m stuck with an oxygen tank. Something just isn’t right.

We talked with my regular doctor and she thinks that I might of had a stroke or maybe a seizure. I go see her on Wednesday. But until then I can’t do anything and have to be supervised at all times.

It’s really strange, I’m being treated like a baby but I feel like I’m 80. I just want to be a normal 24 year old and feel like my age.

 

Information from the obituary at http://www.stephenson-wyman.com/obituaries/Melinda-Smith/#!/Obituary:

Melinda “Mindy” Smith, age 25, of Harrison, passed away suddenly on Friday, May 9, at her home. Mindy had attended Farwell High School where she had been an honor student and participated in track and cheerleading. She graduated from Clare High School in 2005. She was currently attending college and was hoping to pursue a career as a Psychiatrist. Mindy talked often of becoming a doctor to help others who were struggling with Cushing’s Disease.

Mindy had been battling a fight with Cushing’s Disease since 2005. She fought hard and long, but unfortunately it was a fight that she could not win. She was loved by many, but will be missed by many more.

Mindy is survived by her son, Landon Smith, parents, Deb (Marc) Davis, Fred (Nola) Riggs, of Harrison, and Ralph Rydman, her special friend, Ryan Smith, siblings, Alisha Green of Farwell, Marrissa Rydman of Gresham, Oregon, Misty Riggs of Weidman and Mike Riggs and Seth Riggs both of Florida, her grandparents, Gary (Penny) Smith of Clare, Sheryl (Phil) Wentworth of Harrison, Janet Riggs of Harrison, and Jay Davis of Clare. Also surviving are many aunts, uncles, and cousins that will miss her dearly. She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Dawn Wiggins of Muskegon, Harold Riggs of Harrison, and Carol Davis of Clare.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, May 14, at 2:00 PM at the Clare Chapel of Stephenson-Wyman Funeral Home with pastor John Kasper officiating. Friends may meet with her family at the funeral home on Wednesday from 11 AM until the time of services. Memorials may be directed to the family.

Rest in peace, Melinda

In Memory of Natalie ~ April 21, 2008

8 Comments

This is another Golden Oldie.  I’m not sure when it was last written or updated by Natalie but it was updated by me after she died April 21, 2008.

~~

Hi! My name is Natalie, I am 35 years old and I’ve been married for 15 years. I don’t have any children at this time, but we are in the process of adopting. We can hardly wait for our little one to show up on our doorstep. We live down in southern Maryland at this time. I grew up in southern Virginia on a farm. My Dad is still farming; he raises peanuts, corn and soybeans. He has had 2 battles with colon cancer and is still hanging in there. He gives me inspiration. I have my Mom and Grandmother still living home on the farm too and we get there as often as we can. My sister lives near by my parents and has 2 boys. They spend a portion of every summer with us.

There is so much to tell, I really don’t know where to start. I had my official diagnosis in Jan. of 1990. But after all of the information I have learned over the years, I fully believe that it could have started as early as childhood. We will never know for sure.

When I graduated from high school in 1983, I was a happy go lucky teenager with a steady boy friend and many friends. My first year of college was great. I had a lot of fun and thought I had made so many new friends. Joe (boyfriend then, now my husband) left for Marine Corps Boot Camp in the spring of 1984. That was hard but I adjusted fine and was glad to see him come home that summer. In the fall when it was time to go back to school I was a different person. I withdrew from my friends and I pretty much kept to myself. After a weekend visit from Joe, I slipped into a deep depression. I stopped going to class and to work. My so-called friends didn’t want anything to do with me. I started having headaches and dizzy spells. I was really scared. No one knew what I was feeling or would even try to understand. I ended up dropping out of school and went back home. I didn’t want a job; I just stayed home and did baby-sitting jobs. My nephew was born in August of 1985 and I took care of him full time until Joe and I was married in June of 1986.

On our wedding day I cried all through the picture taking. I was very happy but cried anyway. We went to the Blue Ridge Mountains for our honeymoon, I got stung by a bee, got a speeding ticket, and we had no air conditioning in our truck. It was truly one to remember. We came back and moved to North Carolina, where Joe was stationed at the time, and I cried for the next 2 weeks. I had never been that far away from home before.

As a child I had a bad case of asthma and now all of a sudden I’m having no problems. Little did I know that my body was treating itself with cortisol. In Jan. of 1987 I had a doctor’s appointment with my Allergist.

I was told then that I had High Blood pressure and to keep check on it. I was also beginning to be very emotional around this time. I would cry over nothing.

I started having migraine headaches while Joe was away on a deployment. My parents came and took me to the ER and because I had not been able to eat for 3 days and I was living in the dark because the sunlight was killing my head. Again I was told that it was High Blood pressure. Joe came home and left again in June for 6 months on the ship. I moved home and didn’t have any problems that summer. I moved back to Carolina in the fall so that I could get our house ready for Joe’s home coming. The real nerve racking part was that Joe’s ship was part of the mine sweeping going on in the Persian Gulf during 1987.

1988 was a pretty good year. Not too many problems except for headaches. But 1989 is a different story. I fell apart this year. In the spring I broke out in this strange rash that wouldn’t go away and I couldn’t find a doctor that could tell me what it was. Not long after that my periods stopped, we were really excited thinking that we were finally going to have a baby, WRONG! I went 3 months without a cycle; I still had the rash, headaches and high blood pressure. You would think that this would have alerted my OB GYN that something was wrong. Joe came home one day and found me doubled over and took me to the ER and we found out that I had kidney stones. Over all this time I am steady gaining weight. The stones passed and then tests were done and everything was fine there. Finally I decided to go to see Dermatology for the rash and was treated for severe acne. On my second visit with them the doctor took a look at my entire medical record and excused himself from the room. A few minutes later he returned with a doctor from Internal medicine, he took one look at me and said that I was the classic Cushing’s case. Then he went on to explain it to me. This was in Nov.1989. The tests began and I had a CT Scan done in Dec of that year that I didn’t get the results from until after Christmas. They showed a tumor on the pituitary and I was told to go to Portsmouth Naval Hospital right away. We took off and headed to Virginia not knowing what to expect. I was admitted the next day and had a week of peeing in a jug and lots of bloodwork. I was sent home with my surgery scheduled for Feb. 1990. Well, being the Navy, my surgeon was called away and my surgery was delayed until March.

I had transphenoidal surgery in March 1990 and they removed what they could but it had invaded the sinus cavity and they couldn’t get it all. I was sent home on hydrocortizone and had 2 episodes where my cortisol levels dropped too low and had to go the ER. Once I was weaned off I was okay and actually felt pretty good. I had monthly 24-hour urine tests run and they began to come back high again. I was put back in the hospital in Portsmouth and all the tests came back normal. I was sent home and a couple of months later they were high again. Again I went to the hospital and sent home normal. What’s going on here? The next time this happened I demanded that something be done. The head of the Endo dept. (I won’t mention any names, but Handiman knows him personally) tried to tell me that I was faking it so that my husband wouldn’t have to go the Desert Storm. I talked on of the interns to schedule me for an appt with the radiation oncologist and they determined that the tumor was still growing and that I needed to have radiation. Joe was scheduled to go to the desert but he was pulled from that duty and assigned to recruiter’s asst. and we moved to Virginia to my parent’s home for 60 days while I underwent 31 days of traditional radiation to the pituitary. I went back to Carolina feeling more at ease that something had been done. The rash went away but I continued to gain weight and still had Blood pressure problem, but was now being treated for it.

I was doing really well and Joe went away again for 6 months in Oct.1991. He was gone that Christmas, which was hard but I handled it ok. When he returned he had orders to go to Atlanta, GA. I was doing well and we packed up and went. I didn’t like the endo I saw there so I continued my 6-month check ups in Portsmouth when went home to visit.

In the summer of 1994, I started having problems with my left eye and thought it was allergies. I went to the eye doctor and after examining me he sent me to a Neuro Ophthalmologist who ordered a MRI and guess what The Tumor’s back! It was pressing on the optic nerve causing what they called a third nerve palsy. I was treated with medication until Jan 1995, hoping that the tumor would shrink but it got worse. I began to have double vision and my left eye closed completely. In the spring of 95 I again underwent Transphenoidal surgery at Emory University under  Dr. Oyesiku. He was great. I also had a great endo there, Dr. Lewis Blevins (he is at Vanderbilt in Tenn. Now). They still could not retract the entire tumor so I went back in August of that year and had Sterotactic Radiation Surgery. That was a one time radiation and it was a real experience. I had a metal Halo drilled into my head and I had CT scans and MRIs done with it one to determine the exact location of the tumor, then I was placed in a chair that spun in very slow circles while the radiation was being done. When I arrived back in my room they couldn’t find the key to take the halo off, so I had to wear it for another 2 hours until they found it.

It has now been almost 6 years since the last radiation and my current MRIs show some shrinkage of the tumor. I am currently battling high cortisol levels again but I think if we can find the right dosage of medicine it will level off. I am currently taking meds for: thyroid, high blood pressure, estrogen, diabetes, medication to control cortisol, allergy medication and every 3 months I take hormones to make me have a menstrual cycle. But over all I am doing OK.

My husband is out of the Marine Corps now and we live in Maryland. We are in the process of Adopting. We are really excited about this and can hardly wait to get our little one. My husband and Family have been so supportive of me through all of these years and I don’t know what I would have done without them and my close friends.

I feel like I have made many friends here also. This site has been a great help to me and I hope that my story can help someone else.

Take Care everyone!

Natalie

MaryO Note: Natalie had a BLA in March, 2008. She died April 21, 2008.
In Memoriam

Natalie Fay

Monday, April 21, 2008

2001 Cushing’s Lunch. From
left: Joe (Natalie’s husband), Natalie and Linda

Natalie Fay (Natalie65), died April 21, 2008. She was only 42 and had recently had a BLA. I first
met Natalie at a local lunch in November of 2001 and have seen her seval times
since then.

Natalie started the original “Dammit Dolls” that circulated
around the country until people refused to pass them along anymore.

Dammit Doll.

Natalie also made counted cross-stitch
Cushing’s Awareness Pins:

Natalie’s bio… http://www.cushings-help.com/natalies_story.htm

Some recent past
posts.

February 10, 2008

going to UVA I am going for my first visit with Dr. Hanks at
UVA on the 20th. I will also see Dr. Vance that day. I haven’t seen her before
either. I am planning on having bilateral adrenal surgery in March. I am a
little nervous about this, but it is going to be a positive thing I hope. I
would love to hear from anyone who has had this done so that I will have an idea
of what to expect. after surgery.

Thanks! Natalie

March 18, 2008

surgery update Hey everyone!

I’m back! It has been a
very slow week and I’m just satrting to feel like moving around again. I had BLA
on the 10th and came home on friday. My parents have taken my boys (3 & 6)
home to Va. I have missed them so much this week, but I think it was the right
thing to do. I don’t know how I would have done it without them. I am still very
sore and tired at times, but I’m coming along. Sorry this has taken so long to
get out to you guys, I thought things were taken care of but I was wrong. Oh
Well! I’m doing good and I’ll keep in touch. Thanks for all of your thoughts and
prayers.

Natalie

Message Board Signature:

pit surgery 1990
traditional 30 days
radiation 1990
pit surgery 1995
sterotactic radiation surgery 1995
2004
still have remaining tumor
cortisol levels still off balance
BLA March 10,
2008


Tributes and Memories on the message boards…


Our first local DC area Cushie lunch November 17, 2001 with Linda, Jayne, me and Natalie – all in Cushe Colors [Photographer: Robin]

Our first local DC area Cushie lunch November 17, 2001 with Jayne, Linda, Natalie, MaryO and Dianne [Photographer: Robin]

Our first local DC area Cushie lunch November 17, 2001 with Jayne, Linda, Natalie, MaryO and Dianne [Photographer: TomO]

Our second local DC area Cushie lunch February 9, 2002 all the families [Photographer: Robin]

Our second local DC area Cushie lunch February 9, 2002 with Jayne, Marcia, Heather, Natalie and MaryO [Photographer: Robin]

Our second local DC area Cushie lunch February 9, 2002 with Jayne, Marcia, Heather, Natalie and MaryO [Photographer: Robin]

Our second local DC area Cushie lunch February 9, 2002 with Jayne, Marcia, Heather, Natalie and MaryO. LynneInVa made the roses for us from candles. [Photographer: Robin]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with lots of us! [Photographer: Robin]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with lots of us! [Photographer: Robin]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with lots of us! [Photographer: Robin]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with lots of us! [Photographer: Robin]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with Pat, MaryO, Ruth, Natalie, Susan, Jayne [Photographer: TomO]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with Pat, MaryO, Ruth, Natalie, Susan, Jayne [Photographer: Robin]

Our next local DC area Cushie lunch May 4, 2002 with Joe, Jed and Catherine [Photographer: Robin]

Our three families: Tom and MaryO, Natalie and Joe, Robin and Jayne…and kids [Photographer: a waitress]

Our three families: Tom and MaryO, Natalie and Joe, Robin and Jayne…and kids [Photographer: a waitress]

TomO being silly, stealing Catherine’s nose. [Photographer: Robin]


http://www.wrightfuneralhome.org/index.cfm

Natalie Grissom Fay
(June 11, 1965 – April 21, 2008)


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Courtland, Virginia– Natalie Grissom Fay, 42, passed away April 21, 2008 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown, Md. She was born in Petersburg, Va, a daughter of Edward Scott and Nan Lucy Grissom and was a 1983 graduate of Southampton High School. Natalie actively supported several Cushing Support Groups, and was a member of the Patuxent Presbyterian Church. Surviving in addition to her parents is her husband, Joseph P. Fay; two sons, Joseph Edward (Jed) Fay and Nathan Lee Fay all of Hollywood, Md.; one sister, Annette G. Stephenson of Courtland, Va.; two nephews, Scott and Vance Stephenson; and her father-in-law, Edward K. Fay and wife, Sunee, of Deltona, Fl. The funeral will be conducted at 2 pm Friday at Wright Funeral Home with the Rev. Edmund Ellis officiating. Burial will follow in Riverside Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 7 to 9 pm Thursday at the home of Edward and Nan Grissom, 16046 Wakefield Road, Courtland, and suggest that in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Cushings Help, c/o Mary O’Connor, 4094 Majestic Lane, #328, Fairfax, Va. 22033.

Steve, Pituitary Bio

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golden-oldie

 

I am a 43 year old man from South Carolina who has been a “big boy” most of my adult life and have been pretty healthy until early 2003 when i started noticing marked weakness in my legs. At the time I was on a diet and thought I was just deficient in something and started trying all kinds of supplements but nothing helped. I was kinda checking my bp here and there and it was very high so I decided to go to my gp because I was due for a physical anyway. He saw me and I told him about my leg and arm muscle weakness and he started asking lots more questions about my moods, vision, looked at my stretch marks and felt my noticable hump and said that it looks like cushings but probably isn’t because it’s so rare. He sent me to an endo “just in case, to rule it out”.

I have since found out how blessed I am to have had this gp and to be referred on the 1st visit. My endo agreed and started lots of tests (I never gave so much blood or peed so much in my life!) and even though after a CT and MRI they couldn’t see any tumors, he referred me to Drs. Vance and Laws at UVA Medical Ctr. who are wonderful! After an IPSS I was diagnosed and it was caused by a tumor on the pituitary.

I had transphenoidal surgery on Feb. 7, 2004 and after no change in my cort levels in 4 days they decided to go back in and operate on the other side which resulted in complete removal of the pitiutary. I never did “crash” so they sent me home saying I definitely would in a few days. It is now March 2005 and I am still waiting to crash. I never had to take steroids due to my levels being near normal and although I am due for another check-up in a month, I feel pretty good, having gained 90% of my strength back along with most other symptoms getting better. The wierd thing is that Dr Vance thinks that I am in remission from cushings but I am a rare case (I guess that makes me rare among the rare!). One year post-op and I am only on bp meds and thyroid replacement and testosterone replacement, that’s all.

I am a lurker here and was during my darkest days and appreciate all the help this site has given.

The recurrence of this disease seems to be high, among posters here anyway, but I am optimistic that I am through with cushings for good and just have to deal with hormone replacement.

 

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In Memory of Melinda Smith 1988-2014

14 Comments

melinda-smith

 

Sadly, we lost another Cushing’s patient on Friday, May 9, 2014.  Melinda was a member of the Cushing’s Help message boards since Jun 24,  2007.

She was only 25 and leaves behind a young son and many loving family members.

Just last year she posted:

I’m not really sure where to put this post so I’ll just put it here under miscellaneous.

Last Friday was probably the closest I’ve ever come to actually dying. Luckily, my dad came downstairs to check on me. At some point Friday I completely blacked out and my dad found me totally unresponsive, barely breathing with foam in my mouth. The paramedics told my dad that if he hadn’t found me when he did I would of definitely died.

Nobody knows what caused this to happen. The hospital is trying to say that I overdosed on drugs, which is TOTALLY 100% untrue. Especially, since I hadn’t even taken my medicine because I was staying up with my mom to help her clean and move my stuff upstairs from the basement. By the time the ambulance got me to the hospital I was still unresponsive and my kidneys had shut down.

I don’t remember anything from Friday or really much from Thursday night. All I remember is waking up in the ICU at the hospital in the middle of the night with some grumpy nurses who kept asking me why I tried to kill myself. I just don’t understand where they got the idea that I was trying to commit suicide, all of my medication was accounted for plus some.

Another thing, now I’m on oxygen 24/7. Since Friday I have a hard time breathing so the hospital sent me home with an oxygen tank. I feel so old. I’m only 24 and I don’t even smoke yet I’m stuck with an oxygen tank. Something just isn’t right.

We talked with my regular doctor and she thinks that I might of had a stroke or maybe a seizure. I go see her on Wednesday. But until then I can’t do anything and have to be supervised at all times.

It’s really strange, I’m being treated like a baby but I feel like I’m 80. I just want to be a normal 24 year old and feel like my age.

 

Information from the obituary at http://www.stephenson-wyman.com/obituaries/Melinda-Smith/#!/Obituary:

Melinda “Mindy” Smith, age 25, of Harrison, passed away suddenly on Friday, May 9, at her home. Mindy had attended Farwell High School where she had been an honor student and participated in track and cheerleading. She graduated from Clare High School in 2005. She was currently attending college and was hoping to pursue a career as a Psychiatrist. Mindy talked often of becoming a doctor to help others who were struggling with Cushing’s Disease.

Mindy had been battling a fight with Cushing’s Disease since 2005. She fought hard and long, but unfortunately it was a fight that she could not win. She was loved by many, but will be missed by many more.

Mindy is survived by her son, Landon Smith, parents, Deb (Marc) Davis, Fred (Nola) Riggs, of Harrison, and Ralph Rydman, her special friend, Ryan Smith, siblings, Alisha Green of Farwell, Marrissa Rydman of Gresham, Oregon, Misty Riggs of Weidman and Mike Riggs and Seth Riggs both of Florida, her grandparents, Gary (Penny) Smith of Clare, Sheryl (Phil) Wentworth of Harrison, Janet Riggs of Harrison, and Jay Davis of Clare. Also surviving are many aunts, uncles, and cousins that will miss her dearly. She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Dawn Wiggins of Muskegon, Harold Riggs of Harrison, and Carol Davis of Clare.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, May 14, at 2:00 PM at the Clare Chapel of Stephenson-Wyman Funeral Home with pastor John Kasper officiating. Friends may meet with her family at the funeral home on Wednesday from 11 AM until the time of services. Memorials may be directed to the family.

Rest in peace, Melinda

Andrea P, Steroid-Induced Cushing’s

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What can you do when the cure might be worse than the disease?

“Have you thought of losing some weight? This would most likely take care of the many complaints you have.” The all too eager yet condescending young intern continued despite my blank stare, “Have you had a sleep study done?”

How many times had I been in this situation? Change the doctor, but keep me there, in the crazy patient’s chair. “Well, the patient has five children, a long history of miscarriages, a fairly recent history of a traumatic abdominal hysterectomy… couple these with the recent death of her father to cancer and basically all normal testing… clearly she’s a depressed, middle aged woman hitting the Ben and Jerry’s a little too much and addicted to Lifetime movies.” Or something like that.

What’s worse than the tiny intern with a huge ego, was the troll under the bridge. I still had to face my PCP who listened to me a little less than a mother who’s heard “Mommy, mommy!” for the hundredth time in an hour, from her 3 year old.

For the better part of two years, I’d seen her for so many things. Each time I’d ask her why my bones were breaking so easily. I told her I was shrinking, to which she replied “It’s impossible to shrink an inch and a half in a year.” Then laughter. I’d ask her why the nausea & vomiting, low oxygen, and migraines were there… all of this was ignored and off to another specialist I’d go (for a similar experience), with more Prednisone in hand. When she didn’t see hardcore proof (i.e. a lab tests or a specialist’s report confirming the symptoms in front of her) the things simply did not exist, despite glaring symptoms.

Another specialist I’d seen did care and did see the disturbing, rapid transformation and accumulation of symptoms, so he sent me to my PCP for testing. I later found out that this specialist feared all along what I had. He had been warning me that Prednisone was dangerous and he hated it. I didn’t. I loved it. It was the only thing that relieved my severe neuropathy pain, the nausea, vomiting and migraines. Without it, I was in the E.R. at least once a week.

I suppose I could cut the PCP some slack and say that every doctor, when they themselves are the young intern, dream about the day when they can show off their seniority and knowledge (let’s not forget power) in front of another young intern. I could say this, but I won’t. Not when I know there are the most wise, sympathetic, world renowned and respected doctors, who’ve been practicing medicine longer than most interns have graced this earth, yet they treat the interns (and patients) as equals. They remain humble.

No, this PCP had no excuse for demeaning me for twenty minutes in front of this man. Alas! She did finally do her job and gave me an exam. It took her less than thirty seconds to blurt out “OMG Andrea! You have Cushing’s Syndrome!” All of the cool was gone. She fumbled with her papers, stuttered, murmured to herself… She was a mess.

andrea-fShe left the room for ten minutes and returned more composed and more… herself. “Andrea, I’m sure you’ve read about Cushing’s Syndrome on the internet.” This sentence was delivered with the same tone and sarcasm as a Disney villain about to pounce on an unsuspecting bunny (or other furry creature… did I mention the “fur” I had sprouted?). She continued, “You have every symptom of Cushing’s Syndrome. The buffalo hump is huge and classic.” She went on about my symptoms. All of which I’d been begging her to look at before this appointment.

By the end of the appointment, she had decided that she’d need to talk to my then rheumatologist; I’d need all sorts of testing, and foremost, “You HAVE to get off of that Prednisone Andrea!” Certainly she knew I wasn’t convinced that her prescriptions of Prednisone were somehow my fault, however the wee intern might have sucked that one up. Perhaps he believed it was my rheumatologist that prescribed all of it; he did do his part as well. They were both in it together.

I left the office miffed and confused. “Well,” I thought, “Let’s go home and see what this Cushing’s is, on the Internet. Probably some sort of psychosomatic disease where you think yourself into the side effects of Prednisone.”

At the point where I began my Internet search, I had changed from an active, really attractive (I can toot my horn, ’cause it ain’t so now) about to be 40 year-old, homeschooling mom of five beautiful children. I was in bed for 3 weeks prior to my PCP appointment. I found out later that my family thought that this was it, I was dying. Indeed, I was close to death and it’s a miracle that I didn’t die.

I had gained 40 lbs. for which easily 10 of it rested on the top of my back. The Buffalo Hump. The rest was hanging out in strange pockets of fat all over my middle and face. I was disoriented and in cold sweats all of the time. Everything hurt.

On the evening of that fateful Friday after my PCP appointment, I joined a Cushing’s support group online. It took me three weeks to compose my introduction post because I had not the energy, nor the wherewithal to finish it. In the meantime however, I found out enough about Steroid Induced Cushing’s Syndrome to know that I was in big trouble.

Every bad side effect one can get from steroid use, I am getting or have. What’s worse is, my adrenal glands have atrophied. They won’t wake up and naturally produce cortisol that our bodies vitally need. Every organ and gland in our body relies on the production of cortisol. When you have Cushing’s, you’re in a real pickle Fred.

With me, I’m continually in either Cushing’s mode or Addison’s mode. Two opposite diseases. You’d be surprised at how many people in the medical field do not understand this. Most disturbing is how many endocrinologists don’t understand it. My body is used to high levels of cortisol so when I try to wean off and my body gets stressed, sick, injured, needs surgery, etc., I go into adrenal insufficiency with the chance of adrenal crisis.

Ahh, adrenal crisis! My nemesis! Is it? Isn’t it? Hospital? Just a Prednisone Boost? These are questions I ask myself daily. I was very near dying during those few weeks before I saw my PCP, because my body was literally shutting down. Again, I’m still amazed that I didn’t die.

Right. I realized for me, a person with autoimmune disease, with all sorts of crazy symptoms, weaning down to a healthy level of cortisol was going to take another miracle. Those message boards? Every time I went to send a personal message to a member that I could relate to in experience, they were dead. Dead. Young women, neglected by so many doctors who thought that they too, were fat and depressed.

Monday came and I called my PCP as scheduled. When she answered the phone she acted as if she didn’t know why I was calling. Before a minute was up, I realized she was getting as far away from admitting I had Cushing’s Syndrome as she could. Both she and my rheumatologist had been prescribing me prednisone without any solid diagnosis (at that point). Basically the Prednisone was completely unwarranted. She told me to wean off of the Prednisone and “Um okay?” then let the silence hang there. I was speechless (and as you’re well aware of at this point, is pretty darn near an oxymoron).

I took it upon myself to see an endocrinologist, who I owe my life to. He ordered a bone density test, a bunch of labs, told me to get a medical alert bracelet ASAP and a whole lot more. He was shocked that none of this had been done.

The bone density test showed that my PCP was half right, I didn’t lose an inch and half off of my stature in less than a year, I had lost two and a half inches. I began a strong osteoporosis medication. A little later, I was put on 5 liters of oxygen at night and as needed during the day, a bi-pap machine and I learned more about cortisol stress doses and began searching for new doctors.

For the next year and a half, I would see a total of 3 more rheumatologists, 5 neurologists and 2 new PCP’s. I was admitted to the hospital too many times to count. I saw 5 more specialists, wasted tons of money, precious time and was demeaned further than I could have ever imagined coming from people who are supposed to “Do no harm.” at one of those big name clinics. Same thing: fat and CrAzY. At the end of it all, I had given up hope. I was on more Prednisone than when I had first seen my endocrinologist.

My teeth had begun rotting because of the calcium loss and my Sjogren’s Syndrome did not help matters there. I had 6 extractions in 3 months and was never able to get back down to the 10 mg. of Prednisone I had begun with. Stress, illness and then having to let the beautiful eyes of our children watch it all…too much.

I saw my endocrinologist for a checkup and he yelled at me. I yelled at him. We both yelled together and then he picked up the phone in front of me and called a few specialists (the most-awesome-est specialists the world has to offer) and made me appointments with them. These doctors graciously took me on as their patient and began working as a team with my endocrinologist to get me off of this Prednisone.

Well, it’s been 8 months since that loud, intense “time of fellowship” with my endocrinologist. Despite the fact that my teeth have deteriorated to the point where I will have them all extracted on Jan. 2, 2014 (Happy New Year!)… and I found out I have both thyroiditis and hyperparathyroidism and well, a bunch of other … stuff. I’m due to wean down to 9 mg. of Prednisone on Thanksgiving day! I’ve lost a little weight. There’s so much to be thankful for!

I have lost much, but what I’ve gained in return, I would never, ever give up. My faith and that of my family’s, has grown in ways that would never have happened had I not gotten this dreadful disease. I found many things. I have found that my husband really means it when he says that I’m beautiful. My children mean it… I have what many have deemed, “The Ugly Disease” yet I feel more beautiful than I ever have. I feel more blessed than I ever have. Most importantly, I remembered and again found my hope, through faith.

Faith is the essence of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. When those of us with serious and chronic illness, have no faith in a Hope, we are dead persons walking. Had my endocrinologist not been divinely appointed to verbally kick my butt, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would not be here trying to type this story of mine.

I can’t write nor say a thing without a moral. So the moral of my story is this: know who and what your hope is in. Know what the unseen things are and have fat faith. Take your illness and use it. Use your life! It’s beautiful!

Article reposted with consent of the author from Have Faith: Cushing’s Syndrome

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