Raquel O (Raquel8a) Adrenal Bio

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I’m not sure how long I’ve had Cushing’s. I think it’s been a slow progression for about 20 years.

In April my father passed away and we were on our way to Church for his mass. We got smashed from behind turning into the Church’s driveway, we ended up in an ambulance. At the hospital they did a full body CT scan. (I would have never gotten one if the accident never happened.) They found a growth on my adrenal gland. That started the ball rolling. I believe my father was responsible for helping me discover the problem.

I started looking on the internet about adrenal tumors. It talked about Cushing’s. Each and every symptom they described I had. It explained soooooo much. I thought I was going through early menopause. I was suicidal, and severly depressed, on 2 different medications to help. I chalked everything up to being “fat”. I didn’t go to the doctor because I didn’t want to hear “you just need to lose some weight.”

I went to an endocrinologist, she started me on the first urine test and some blood work. Two weeks later, I went back to get the results. I told her about Cushing’s and that I had all the symptoms. She said the results were abnormal but it could be a number of different things. She wanted to repeat the urine test and said that I SEEMED to be convinced that it was Cushing’s Disease. Needless to say I felt pretty stupid. When the results came back guess what?

After the accident the tumor seemed to have gotten aggravated. I was having a lot more confusion, loss of focus, etc. I chalked it all up to the accident, maybe it was a concussion. Since then it’s become worse. I get frustrated and depressed because I’m experiencing a lot more forgetfulness, and confusion. My depression meds are holding me up but barely. I’m tired all the time. My husband sometimes, I feel, doesn’t believe me and gets frustrated. My kids are always asking me if I’m okay (and usually the answer is no). I don’t want them to grow up remembering how I was always so sick and tired.

My next step is to get the tumor removed. The neurosurgeon is busy and my tumor is not life threatening so I had to wait a long time (couple of weeks) for a consultation. I finally saw him an now I’m waiting for the ENT to get back from vacation to set a date. So, I’m in limbo. Not helping!

My next step is to get the tumor removed. The neurosurgeon is busy and my tumor is not life threatening so I had to wait a long time (couple of weeks) for a consultation. I finally saw him an now I’m waiting for the ENT to get back from vacation to set a date. So, I’m in limbo. Not helping!

After the surgery am I supposed to be “normal?” I’m afraid of “normal.” I don’t know what it’s like to be “normal.” Will I be a different person? Will I no longer be fat? Will I get rid of the hypertension, and diabetes? the redness everyone thinks is sunburn? will I be able to get into a standing position from the floor? I’m very FRIGHTENED of the “normal” that I’m supposed to become.

The surgery, no problem, my dad’s watching over me. I’m convinced he’s responsible for finding the tumor and will help me through.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, although this bio only scratches the surface.


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Turtledove (turtledove), Undiagnosed Bio

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Monday, December 29, 2008

just found this sight looking for answers to a long list of problems and diagnosis.

I have battled years long of severe stress and well am trying to find out what happenned and how to get well again. I have menapausal estrogen issues not answered shoulder impingement problems and one dr suggested I had phase 3 exhaustion which led me to study on adrenials.

blood work has been done whichis showing elivated red blood cell counts my thyroid levels appear within the normal range but 30 yearrs ago i was treated for hyperthyroidism which even then i suspected was not the right gland. Im wondering if this elivated red blood count is yet another indicaation of this adrenial issue as dr after dr finds this that and the other and treats each as such.

im just learning about this condition an dwhere it appears i am fitting into it but what test will show if it is or isnt? its all very confusing.

i am 51 now and as i have said the last 5 years of my life have had supreme stress and conditions that have just led to exhaustion mental and memory failures pysical problems that obviously didnt happen overnight and now the red blood count in the picture……does that fit in here somewhere?

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rokchix86 (rokchix86), Undiagnosed Bio

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So, I’m in the process of being tested for Cushings. I have to have an MRI and CT scan pending bloodwork results for the contrast dye. My endocrinologist said I keep failing my cortisol tests. In other words something is always elevated.

For me my journey began a few years back when I was working out like crazy doing cross training and kickboxing 4 days a week and bike riding and taking long walks, I was also dieting. I kept gaining weight. I started needing maternity clothes. I had the hump already for a few years but was previously able to lose weight.

I assumed oin was menopause but nothing I did worked. The Drs did bloodwork which was all fine. I started having hot flashes do they put me on HRT which actually caused me to drop 5 lbs. Now I know something is off.

It took my BP shooting up suddenly along with my A1C reaching prediabetic range for the Drs to believe there really was something going on.

So here I am, I started my testing in June and now it’s Sept. Still no official diagnosis. I’m very tired and depressed. I don’t go out because I don’t want to see anyone. I can only wear stretchy pants and have a hard time finding long enough shirts.

I don’t recognize myself anymore. *sigh*

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Did She Have Cushing’s?

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By the time A.A. arrived in my office, she had spent almost a year looking for answers.

In November 2012, she was 45 and struggling to lose weight and keep her blood pressure down. What sounds like a common scenario, however, was anything but.

A.A. was experiencing fatigue and malaise, and the area around her eyes bruised easily. Another puzzling symptom: She said she was acutely aware of her neck. It wasn’t pain, but awareness. She was losing more hair than usual in her brush and had stopped menstruating, and her skin broke open easily. Her primary-care physician thought it was early menopause.

She asked family and friends, but no one had such symptoms at menopause. She was increasingly self-conscious as she gained weight. Her primary-care provider referred her to an OB/GYN, and a variety of tests came back normal, including a pap, thyroid, female hormones, and a transvaginal ultrasound.

Worst of all, A.A. struggled emotionally. She felt as though she were in a constant state of agitation, with depression and anxiety. A.A.’s symptoms slowly took over her life. She was becoming a person she hardly recognized.

In July, she ran into a friend who was a nurse. Noticing the puffiness of her face, the nurse asked A.A. whether she was on prednisone. Learning she wasn’t, the nurse suggested A.A. might have Cushing’s syndrome, which results from too much cortisol in the body for long periods. It can be caused by taking a corticosteroid, like prednisone, or by something inside the body signaling the adrenal glands to produce too much of the hormone.

A visit to an endocrinologist confirmed the diagnosis after a 24-hour urine-cortisol test, and an MRI appeared to reveal a small adenoma on the pituitary gland. The endocrinologist referred her to Jefferson to see a surgeon.

Although she was not looking forward to brain surgery, A.A. was relieved to have an answer.

But neurosurgeon James Evans, Jefferson’s director of pituitary surgery, did not think the Cushing’s was caused by the pituitary adenoma. He ordered an additional MRI and blood work, which confirmed his hunch, and he referred her to Jefferson Endocrinology for further detective work.


When A.A. walked into my office, she was extremely stressed and exhausted. I ordered a chest CT, which revealed a nodule. But it did not fluoresce during a nuclear medicine test, as it likely would have had it been causing the Cushing’s. Next up was a series of scans, but all came back clear.

I still felt the tumor should come out and referred her to cardiothoracic surgeon Scott Cowan.

Three days after surgery to remove one lobe of her lung and the tumor, A.A.’s face already was noticeably slimmer.

Her Cushing’s was caused by a carcinoid tumor the size of a pencil eraser in her lung. The tumor – although not large enough to fluoresce during testing – had been signaling her adrenal glands, which produced enough cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone, for 24 people.

Cushing’s accounted for all her physical and emotional symptoms. The syndrome can be missed because it mimics obesity in many ways.

With the tumor out, her adrenal glands would effectively go to sleep. She’d need prednisone, which would slowly be tapered over the next year. Fortunately, A.A.’s lymph nodes were clear, and she did not need radiation or chemotherapy.

Over the next year, A.A. got her life and her body back. By January, A.A. was completely off prednisone, feeling and looking like herself.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/health/20150412_Could_brain_surgery_solve_her_baffling_symptoms_.html#xPCBW4wRoFxTCWDh.99

Brenda B (BeBop), PCOS Bio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Laree (Laree), Pituitary Bio

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My Thanksgiving Day was less stressful this year than I thought it might be, because I had my head examined the day before at Johns Hopkins at about 9:30 in the morning.  By 1:30 in the afternoon, my endocrinologist there, a metabolic bone specialist, had emailed me that I was the proud parent of a 0.7mm lesion on the right side of my pituitary gland.  All day Tuesday I had performance anxiety because I feared that after six months of testing every liquid my body could produce for excessive cortisol, I had finally been given the green light to undergo the Holy Grail of tests and have a look-see at the Master Gland.  I feared that I wouldn’t be able to come up with the goods, but I managed to produce, and now I’m being referred to a neurosurgeon.

It’s been a very long process, even though the testing has only been a six month part of it.  In 2001, I broke  my collar bone while playing tennis.  Granted, I fell down, but it’s not like I made a Boris Becker leap for the ball or anything.  Then in 2003, my first stress fracture, followed by another one in 2005.  Then a crushed wrist on another tennis court mishap–my feet got tangled up when I was moving backward, and within a week, I was having my wrist rebuilt with a titanium plate and several screws.  Then there was  the broken tailbone, followed by the upper arm compression fracture suffered while pushing a small car off an ice shelf in Ohio.  And finally the L4 vertebra that I broke loosening the lug nuts on a tire I was changing with my still-healing broken arm.

After each incident, I would ask the doctors what could be causing all these weird bone breaks, and sometimes they would send me off for a dexascan to see if I might have osteoporosis, but the test always said no, and the doctors were always orthopedists of one sort or another.  They would shrug and say that these things happen.  After the upper arm (this past January), and the subsequent dexascan, the ortho told me that the test said I didn’t have osteoporosis, that if I wanted to try to learn more about the bone formation, I should see an endocrinologist, but he didn’t know of one to whom he could refer me.  He did refer me to his colleague to have my osteoarthritic hip replaced.  I’m 53, by the way.  He told me that going to an endocrinologist was likely to yield nothing, and he opined that I was suffering from “Laree Martin syndrome,” if I need for it to have a name.

My gynocologist, who works in the same hospital center as Ortho 1, we now lovingly refer to him as Frick, referred me to an endocrinologist who also practices in the same hospital center.   I got myself hooked up with her, and she very quickly determined that since I had broken not one, but all of the bones that are considered to be typical indicators of osteoporosis, despite multiple dexascans to the contrary, I had osteoporosis.  Shortly thereafter, she discovered excess, but “unimpressive,” levels of cortisol in my system.

Ortho 2, we’ll call him Frack, saw me prior to my hip replacement, and I complained about my back injury the week prior.  He pronounced that I had not broken my vertebra, but he offered to send me for an MRI, if that would make me feel better.  I scheduled the MRI, had it in the evening, called his office in the morning to report that I had gone for the test, as he had asked me to do, and instead of leaving a message, I got put directly through to the doctor.  Turns out that he was wrong, and it is possible to break your L4 vertebra pulling on a lug wrench with a still-healing compressions fracture in your upper arm . . .  if you have osteoporosis.  When I told him that he didn’t have to worry about my bones in general, because I was seeing an endocrinologist for that.  I just needed him to be extra careful not to break anything when implanting the new hip.  I told him that the endo specialist was working me up for Cushing’s, and he told me that I certainly did not have Cushing’s, because I wasn’t 100 pounds overweight and diabetic.

By September, the endo doc concluded that my results were equivocal for Cushing’s, but she encouraged me to go to Johns Hopkins to the metabolic bone specialist, since there wasn’t another good explanation for my osteoporosis, which had by that time been objectively diagnosed with a bone biopsy.  She felt that she had no choice, clinically, but to treat my osteoporosis as post-menopausal in origin, even though my bone breaks began 8 years ahead of my menopausal symptoms.  Off to Johns Hopkins.

The bone specialist took the history, again . . . did some more testing (blood, saliva, urine, again . . . ) and then consulted with the adrenal team, who agreed with her diagnosis of ACTH-dependent Cushing’s disease.  Unfortunately for all of you who read these bios, it’s more complicated than just Cushing’s, because I had bilateral pulmonary emboili and a DVT in my leg when one of my stress fractures had me on non-weightbearing restrictions for six weeks.  That little incident was also considered a fluke, until about six years later when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition that is also considered to be “rare.”  It is a mouthful to say–antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS).  It’s main risk is hypercoagulability, and its treatment involves lifelong warfarin (brand name Coumadin), which people mostly call a “blood thinner,” although it doesn’t really act that way.

I feel somehow more than lucky to have two fairly uncommon, fairly complicated conditions with fairly scarey treatment options.  I feel like I need a Fairy Goddoctor to be able to properly manage my surgery and treatment, because of the risks associated with drug interactions with the warfarin, the higher risk of clotting that I already have from the APS, which is apparently compounded by Cushing’s, and my understanding that I’m not supposed to be mixing hormones, including steroids, with the warfarin.  Nevertheless, it was good to know so quickly after the MRI that the result was that I flunked that test as well as I had flunked all the others previously.  I thought I was going to have to stress over that for the entire long weekend, but no.  Instead, I pretty much put it out of my mind until tonight, and now you’re getting the Reader’s Digest version of the last 12 years of my medical experience.

The doctors have exhausted my resilience with all of their certainty, which over the years I relied upon to conclude that I was just clumsy and that my weight struggles with those extra 25 pounds that could pack on in a couple of months, especially when I was recuperating from a fracture, without really changing my diet much, were probably associated with my inconsistent sleep and the fact that I will reach for pizza when I am feeling particularly low.  So when I read here and there about the recovery process after surgery and how difficullt and complicated it can be, I have to admit that my first reaction was that I should quit work, take a year off, spend all my money on travel or whatever I would feel like doing, and then just commit suicide and be done with the whole thing.  And that still has a sense of comfort associated with it when I remind myself of what I’m in for for the next maybe couple of years or more in recovery . . . and possible relapse . . .

But I have a 82 year old mother, and I”m her baby, and I witnessed her sorrow when my brother was killed in a motorcycle accident about 18 months ago, and I wouldn’t put her through that again.  Instead, it’s my intention to take as much time off work as possible after surgery to let myself gather my emotional resources and get over the angry, bruised feeling that I have from both diagnostic processes that have lasted over a decade.  I appreciate that this space is here for newbies like myself to say out loud what most of my friends and family either can’t or don’t want to hear.  It doesn’t really matter so much that anyone is listening; I just need to say it.


Laree (who actually has Cushing’s disease, not Laree Martin’s syndrome)

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Jennifer (Jennifer In Puget Sound), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed3I’m wondering about my situation. I haven’t been diagnosed with Cushing’s but I had my thyroid removed (Hashimoto’s with goiter, family history of thyroid cancer), concluded menopause, had two car accidents (rear-ended)…all in the space of a few years, around 2003-2006. Up until 2003 (the first car accident,) I was a very energetic, upbeat, even-tempered, fit, active, mother of two, and holder of three part-time jobs including teaching high school. I was 50.

Following the car accidents, I developed chronic disabling low back pain. Following the thyroidectomy I developed all kinds of symptoms involving almost all body systems. I’m now bedridden to housebound for great swaths of time. Up until now I’ve been haunting thyroid and adrenal boards, and plowing my way through endocrinologists, MDs and naturopaths looking for answers.

Starting in 2006, I began experiences episodes I call “tizzies” which have baffled all concerned. They last from 6-8 months, building up, reaching a peak, slowly subsiding. They are extremely debilitating and involve many, many symptoms mental and physical. After six or seven of these, I’m convinced they are episodes of extremely high cortisol and I do have some labs to support that, though they are from alternative type laboratories. The saliva ones take four samples spread throughout the day and the 24-hour urine ones are as they sound.

During a trough I have a saliva lab showing mostly low cortisol values. During a different trough I have 24-hour urine results from which the ND pronounced I had Addison’s-like adrenal function. During a recent peak I have both a saliva and 24-hour urine showing off-the-charts high levels of cortisol. Coming down from that peak, I have saliva results showing cortisol low in the morning moving up to extremely high at night.


What do you think?

Jennifer in Puget Sound


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