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Interview Archive: My Journey | Living with Cushing’s Disease

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It’s hard to say when my exact “journey” began with what we now know is Cushing’s Disease.  Both my Mom and my doctor believe I’ve had this for years, when I started having period problems, migraines and unexplained weight gain in high school.

I can safely say that I started really noticing/documenting this last round of health issues in the spring of 2007.  I can remember my first doctor’s visit regarding the onset of this in spring 2006, but the majority of my health issues really began a year later.  I’d always suffered from migraines, but only around my menstrual periods.  I took birth control to help with that, and it also helped regulate my periods for the majority of my adolescent and young adult life.

In Spring 2007, however, I started experiencing cluster migraines that were debilitating, blinding and just absolutely horrible.  I don’t usually have a primary care physician because I’m, for the most part, a really healthy girl.  But I started seeing a doctor to pinpoint the cause of the migraine headaches.  I had a CT scan which came back negative for any problems.  I tried different abortive medications to treat the migraines when I had them (Imitrex) and also preventive medications (Topamax) but nothing helped.  I’m not a big fan of popping pills and insisted that I find the cause of the migraines, rather than just masking them with an expensive, non-generic daily pill.  I cut back on caffeine, avoided certain trigger foods, changed the lighting in my house and in my office, had my eyes checked and even experimented with different birth control options, since estrogen can be a huge trigger for migraines in women.  Those lifestyle changes helped a little, but I was still having them.

Read more at My Journey | Living with Cushing’s Disease.

interview

Rachel was our guest in an interview on BlogTalk Radio Wednesday, June 3 at 6:00 PM eastern.

The archived interview is available through iTunes Podcasts (Cushie Chats) or BlogTalkRadio.

 

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Leann, Undiagnosed Bio

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Originally from December 14, 2008

I’m Leann, a 40-year-old single mom of three from Pittsburgh. My son was recently diagnosed with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. Because of this, it caused me to suspect possible adrenal problems with my oldest daughter (age 19) and myself. I am unsure of my daughters exact lab results (she sees an endo on 12/22), but mine seem to be indicitive that further testing is needed to rule out Cushing’s Syndrome. That’s why I am here (well, that – plus my friend told me to join).

My initial bloodwork shows high blood pressure, high BAD cholesterol, low GOOD cholesterol, and high cortisol levels. I initially went to my PCP due to extreme fatigue! I am soooooooo tired ALL THE TIME! My muscles are always sore and my bones hurt. I am prone to miagraines. I have been clinically depressed, I believe my entire life, but was diagnosed about 20 years ago. The weirdest thing (possibly unrelated) is my diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative retinal disease characterized by loss of peripheral vision and night blindness. My mom read somewhere that loss of peripheral vision is a symptom of Cushing’s, but she can’t find the website.

I also have gained a significant amount of weight in the last few years, all in my mid-section. I look like I am either 7 months pregnant or that I drink a case a beer a day.

My PCP seems to think that I do NOT have Cushing’s because my ACTH levels are fine, but he didn’t do any special ACTH testing, only the basic bloodwork, all drawn at the same time. I argued with the nurse about it and asked that my PCP call me back (on Thursday) but he hasn’t yet.

I am just so tired of feeling like crap all the time. I am hoping to find some answers here. Thanks for reading.

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Jennifer M’s Daughter, Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed6

Hello
My daughter has recently been tested for cushings syndrome. She is nine years old.

when she was 5 years old she went completely blind and forgot everything. her OT thinks it might have been a mini stroke. The doctors could not find anything wrong with her. She always had a desteneded belly the doctors told me it was constipation. this year in Feburary she developed a buffalo hump. the doctors told me she had a flesh eating bacteria. I took her to the hospital they told me it was scoliosis.

After fighting with a doctor I was finally refered to Pittsburgh childrens Hospital. I was seen by an onocologist. He ran the cortisol test we are still waiting to hear the results.

When I was a child in 3rd grade I went from a size 7slim to a 16 plus in one year. I also have cognitive delays. we both suffer from migerains and other people in my family have the depression. my cousin had some rare bird disease and my mom had the diabetes high blood pressue and died of small cell carcinoma. If it wasn’t for the buffalo hump I would have never known that this condition existed.

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Joanne (Mojo1973), Steroid Induced Bio

1 Comment

steroids

 

Hello Everyone,

I will try to keep my introduction short. I am a 43 year old wife, mother, and certified freak of nature. I was diagnosed with steroid induced Chushings in October of 2015.

Since I was a child I have had random medical issues but over the Over the last 20 years I have become a connoisseur of the medical arts. Funny because the I worked in the medical field for 15 out of the 20 years. I seem to collect diagnoses like a girl scout collects badges.

At 17 years old I collected my first big badge after months of being sick, Chronic EBV. In my 20’s I received the badges for Hashimoto’s Thyroidism, Fibromyalgia, and Adenomyosis.

As I moved into my thirty’s my badges were getting bigger and better; they included Sjogren’s syndrome, Raynaud phenomenon, Hemiplegic migraine, Meniere’s disease. It seemed every time I needed to go to the doctors they wanted to test me for something new. All I wanted was relief because my symptoms were getting more aggressive. They have caused me to several surgeries’ not limited to Hysterectomy (by 28years old), Splenectomy, Smart plugs in my lower eye lids, EGD’s and Colonoscopies.

My hemiplegic migraines have caused multiple visits to the ER and the hospital’s Neuro floor. With these Migraines I have TIA’s so I have trouble walking or talking for days after. As the years have gone by my illness has gotten worse and it all came to a head in June 11th 2015.

I felt awful and I had for several months. My new doctor was very confused because my blood work kept coming back normal for the most part, but I kept having random fevers (up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit) joint swelling and body aches/pains.

On June 11th my family couldn’t take it, they had watched me be in pain for too long, so they took me to the doctor in the morning. When the doctor saw my whole family there at my appointment in tears, he decided to do more blood work. After the appointment he sent me home and said I should hear from him in the next few days with the results. So, we left feeling defeated and like their would never be any help. About two hours after I got home the doctor called and said to get to the hospital that something was wrong but he was unsure what it was. My blood work showed my inflammation markers at 174 and my WBC 28,000. In addition to that my kidneys and liver were fighting to staying the game. This was the start of the current medication roller-coaster, and prednisone was the main med in this cart I’m riding in.

It took three months to get the inflammation and WBC down but I took 1 month at 80mg then 3 months of 60mg of steroids. My taper is going very slow and painful. I’m currently down to 4mg and it will take till October to ween all the way off. But because of the steroids I gained 70lbs in four months. This brought my 5 foot frame to 211lbs. I have all the best signs of Cushings and for the most part I’m dealing ok. Until I can’t bend over to put on my shoes or I have to use my vpap machine to breath at night.

I guess I should tell you what my current badges are narrowed down to. I have a rare auto immune auto inflammatory disease called Hypergammaglobulinemia with Familial Mediterranean fever. To have have name gives me a direction. I would rather I do this then one of my children. I just want the information for my family so they can have early diagnoses and live a long life without pain.

 

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Elaine, Pituitary Bio (Golden Oldie)

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golden-oldie

 

I am 51. I was diagnosed hypothroid 25 years ago.

I was diagnosed with empty sella this year – by a neurologist analyzing my migraine headaches. He has ordered a prolactin test which I will have done when I see an endocrinologist in a about a month.

My weight had been pretty stable for years, now I seem to be gaining steadily and my breast are getting huge … I know … but it’s not funny to me because I can’t wear most of my clothes any more.

Also I am having anxiety attacks, my speech and vocabulary seem to be affected, my ankles are swollen. My internist has been attentive to my concerns and has been providing referrals to specialists. I feel as though I am losing my mind, my thinking is not sharp and I feel like crying all the time.

What happened, where is the real me? … and is this Cushing’s or something else?

 

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Diana M (dbear12003), Adrenal Bio

6 Comments

adrenal-location

 

I’m so tired I think about giving up on finding out why I’m so sick. I’m just so tired. But I won’t give up I believe these symptoms are at their beginning stages of cushings.. I want this taken care of before it becomes heart related… I have been seeing an oncologist/hemotolgist/internist..He said because I have the supraclavicular fat pads usually a sign of too much cortisol and a 1.5 cm adrenal adenoma that sometimes releases too much cortisol into the blood that he is scheduling me with an endocrinologist and a rhematologist… there are many test involved to diagnose cushings syndrome. .. I pretty much have them all except the heart problem thank goodness… and no red marks.

I guess my first step is to see if the adrenal tumor is releasing cortisol. .. then we will see what happens. ..I almost convinced myself that I was a hypochondriac, but I still kept getting sick. I have seen numerous doctors ..The main symptoms that bother me are the supraclavicular pads…the adrenal tumor, the b12 deficiency anemia, the fatty liver, weight gain mainly in my tummy, the unexplained flank pain, glucose reading of a 100 in my urine (when there should be none). My alkaline phosphatase reading of 126…and blah. .

Sometimes I am so sick I end up in the ER, but get no answers. This last visit was horrible; I waited in the lobby 5 hours and asked my husband to tell them the pain was getting really bad.

My last ER visit was at Saint Mary’s on 6/4/2015. (I had a severe migraine, right side abdominal pain, aching left arm and leg, and upper back squeezing pain). The test St. Mary’s did are online and after reading them I was thinking should I be checked for Cushing Syndrome?

I have a 1.5 cm left side adrenal adenoma.

Unexplained right abdominal pain.

Fatty liver

Fat above the collar bone that seems to increase and decrease in size.

(Pictures of this)

Severe Fatigue

The worst migraines headaches ever; headaches are so bad it feels like I’m being hit by a hammer on one side of my head.

At least twice a month I get very nauseated and vomit

Red cheeks (Dr. Black observed this and thought it may be Lupus; that test was normal)

I cry more than I ever have.

Weight gain (mainly in my abdomen), I walk a mile every other night (even though it hurts so badly, like my bones will break) I have been eating healthier, but the weight gain keeps going up.

I have insect bites that take forever to heal

I bruise easily and have muscle pain

Many times it feels like my legs are going to break in half when I walk

Upper back ache constantly

My left arm and leg have this severe ache deep into my bone

Weak muscles in my shoulders

Used to have Periods that were irregular. (had an uterine ablation)

I wake up many times during the night very very thirsty

I have a b12 deficiency

I have had tremors for at least 10 years and have been taking primidone for a very long time.

My Alkaline phosphatase has been high on my last 3 cbc’s

I have a spot on my liver that I never got rechecked

I have a 1.9 cm thyroid nodule

Scoliosis in my neck

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My Journey | Living with Cushing’s Disease

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It’s hard to say when my exact “journey” began with what we now know is Cushing’s Disease.  Both my Mom and my doctor believe I’ve had this for years, when I started having period problems, migraines and unexplained weight gain in high school.

I can safely say that I started really noticing/documenting this last round of health issues in the spring of 2007.  I can remember my first doctor’s visit regarding the onset of this in spring 2006, but the majority of my health issues really began a year later.  I’d always suffered from migraines, but only around my menstrual periods.  I took birth control to help with that, and it also helped regulate my periods for the majority of my adolescent and young adult life.

In Spring 2007, however, I started experiencing cluster migraines that were debilitating, blinding and just absolutely horrible.  I don’t usually have a primary care physician because I’m, for the most part, a really healthy girl.  But I started seeing a doctor to pinpoint the cause of the migraine headaches.  I had a CT scan which came back negative for any problems.  I tried different abortive medications to treat the migraines when I had them (Imitrex) and also preventive medications (Topamax) but nothing helped.  I’m not a big fan of popping pills and insisted that I find the cause of the migraines, rather than just masking them with an expensive, non-generic daily pill.  I cut back on caffeine, avoided certain trigger foods, changed the lighting in my house and in my office, had my eyes checked and even experimented with different birth control options, since estrogen can be a huge trigger for migraines in women.  Those lifestyle changes helped a little, but I was still having them.

Read more at My Journey | Living with Cushing’s Disease.

interview

Rachel will be our guest in an interview on BlogTalk Radio  Wednesday, June 3 at 6:00 PM eastern.  The Call-In number for questions or comments is (657) 383-0416.

The archived interview will be available after 7:00 PM Eastern through iTunes Podcasts (Cushie Chats) or BlogTalkRadio.  While you’re waiting, there are currently 84 other past interviews to listen to!

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