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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

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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

5 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!

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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