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Woman with hump on her neck diagnosed herself with Cushing’s disease

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Jennifer Trujillo, 33, noticed she was mysteriously gaining weight and losing muscle despite training for an athletic event in 2012

A woman who lived with unexplained weight gain and debilitating symptoms is finally getting her life back after diagnosing herself with a rare hormonal condition.

Jennifer Trujillo, 33, noticed she was mysteriously gaining weight and losing muscle despite training for an athletic event in 2012. She consulted doctors, but they were unable to identify the cause.

As time went on, the music consultant and video director,from Santa Fe, New Mexico, noticed that her hair was falling out, her skin bruised to the touch, her face was increasingly round, and her bones were becoming more fragile, with her foot breaking unexpectedly.

Her anxiety increased, and Jennifer, who also suffered from debilitating migraines, consulted her doctors again. Experts told her she might have a thyroid problem, bad genes or the start of osteoporosis.

‘I was training for an athletic event and started noticing that I was gaining weight, not losing it. I was losing muscle, not gaining it,’ Jennifer said, recounting her symptoms. ‘Shortly after that my blood pressure shot up through the roof.

‘My face was taking on a moon shape, very round and chubby. My anxiety was so high. Unbelievable migraines. I’d explain all these things to doctors for years and nobody would listen to me.

‘They said I may have a thyroid problem, or I may be getting osteoporosis, or I just had bad family genes and I would have to struggle to stay a good weight. But none of it made sense. I was even referred to a therapist because they said I was making up too many symptoms to make sense.’

To Jennifer, none of these explanations seemed plausible because she was working out twice a day and eating a vegan diet.

It wasn’t until she noticed a hump growing on the back of her neck, known as buffalo neck, that she googled her symptoms and found they matched those of Cushing’s disease.

Jennifer had always thought the bump was due to her ‘terrible posture’, but she discovered the hump was in fact a symptom of the condition.

‘One night I was looking at it and I was so disgusted so I googled the words “fat on back of neck”, and this thing called buffalo neck came up,’ she said. ‘From there, everything unfolded. I found Cushing’s disease and it was every symptom I had to a T, everything down to my foot breaking out of nowhere.

‘I took this information to my doctor and he was the only one who listened to me. He helped me and the rest is history. He himself was amazed I diagnosed myself with such a rare disease.

‘In my best description I would say Cushing’s slowly attacks different areas of your body. You literally experience pain and symptoms from head to toe, and it felt like each week I was waking up to something new.

‘I was able to maintain a somewhat tolerable weight before this because I became obsessed with working out and eating healthy because all this time I just thought I couldn’t lose weight. My doctors mentioned that if I hadn’t done all of this activity then I would have been in much worse shape. I’d easily be over 200 pounds, may have diabetes, osteoporosis, the list goes on.’

Cushing’s disease develops when the body makes too much cortisol. The condition often develops as a side effect of treatments for inflammation and autoimmune conditions, but can also develop as a result of a tumor inside one of the body’s glands.

The main treatment is to stop taking the medication causing it or to remove the tumor. If left untreated, the condition can cause high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. It affects about one in 50,000 people.

Jennifer found out she had a tumor on her pituitary gland that caused the body to overproduce cortisol.

Thanks to her active lifestyle, Jennifer’s weight gain, which saw her going from 105 pounds to 145 pounds was not as significant as it could have been.

Jennifer had surgery in August last year to remove the tumor on her pituitary gland and has been rebuilding her life ever since.

For Jennifer, recovery has been more difficult than living with the condition itself. She sometimes struggles to get out of bed as her body adjusts to producing less cortisol, meaning she feels less energetic.

However, her symptoms started to disappear almost instantly after the operation.

‘After surgery my symptoms quickly started to disappear like rapid fire. It was crazy,’ she said. ‘My weight dropped. I stopped bruising. The hump on my neck went down. My bones healed. My hair grew back. My face returned to its normal shape, and the best part, my blood pressure returned to normal.

‘My friends and family are amazed. Every time I see someone new they say I look like a completely different person.

‘Recovery is hard. I’m still going through it. Believe it or not it’s been harder than the actual disease. When your body is used to producing so much cortisol to all the sudden be producing nothing, your body crashes.

‘Some days it’s hard for me to get out of bed and move, I’m tired all the time and have zero energy. I’m only able to walk at the gym maybe two days a week. I’m currently on cortisol replacements so that my body levels out. Every two weeks I reduce my medication because the goal is to be completely off it and have a normal functioning pituitary gland.

‘However, every time I reduce my body crashes all over again, so it’s like a never-ending cycle. But I know that someday it will get better so I’m getting through it.’

Jennifer, who has been charting her progress on Instagram, shared her advice to others who might be suffering from similar conditions.

‘Never give up trying to find an answer and push your doctors to listen to you,’ she said.

‘If I hadn’t discovered this on my own I’d probably still be suffering.’

Read more:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-5450135/Woman-diagnoses-rare-hormonal-condition.html

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Susanna N (Susanna Nolt), Pituitary Bio

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pituitary-gland

 

Hello! I am a 30 year old single lady diagnosed with Cushing’s in summer of 2015.
I am a Natural Health Consultant and through the grace of God and lots of research, I basically diagnosed myself. My primary care was familiar with Cushing’s and when she saw all the Labs I had ordered on myself, she sent me for an MRI which showed a 6mm pituitary tumor.

I was so excited that at last a REASON for all my symptoms was found! But I had no idea at that point how long and hard the journey would be.

My Cushing’s was fast progressing and I gained 1 lb a week for the last 12 weeks prior to surgery. Plus, I had gained 20 lbs prior to that over the last 2-3 years. Not too mention all the other symptoms of Cushing’s: depression, PCOS, fatigue, weak muscles, thinning skin, hair loss, mental confusion, headaches, etc.

I was referred to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore MD and I met one of the best pituitary surgeons in the nation, namely, Dr. Gallia. He has a 90% success rate for Cushing’s to date.

After the surgery on Nov 13, 2015, I went thru all the normal cortisol withdrawal symptoms….shaking and twitching, incredible pain and weakness everywhere, headaches, depression and irritability, etc I spent 6 weeks at my parents home after the week I spent in the hospital for recovery from the acute phase.

After moving back to my house, I went back to work part-time the first week in January 2016. Now this May 2016 will be the 6 month mark, and I am discouraged at how bad I still feel most of the time….easily stressed and depressed, pain everywhere (esp spine, shoulders, and neck), forgetfulness, and lots of headaches.

I am still on 7.5-10mg of Prednisone every morning. I was on 15mg when I left the hospital, but every time I lower it, I have another crash. I tried the Hydrocortisone, but that wasn’t strong enough for me. My Dr said that my cortisol levels were unusually high prior to surgery, so my recovery may be longer than average til my adrenals start producing cortisol.

So I’m trying to be patient…The good news is that I’ve lost 13 lbs and 4″ around the waist, so I need to be grateful for that when I feel depressed. I am anxious to hear from others who are on the “Cushing’s Journey”. It seems that in some ways I am worse now than I was a few months ago. I have days when I just feel like crying and the pain is intense!

Do others have migraine headaches several times a week? Are your menstrual cycles crazy and debilitating? Hopefully we can learn from and encourage each other!!

God bless each of you!

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Cushing’s Disease and how a brain tumour made me fat. | Skeptical Artist

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The author of this blog post is a member of the Cushing’s Help Message Boards.

…I’d been feeling a little off colour and had put on a bit of weight so went to the doctor at the beginning of last year (2012). In September 2011 I’d been running and blacked out. Through the rest of the year even though I was careful about what I ate, was swimming 80 lengths of the pool everyday and running pretty regularly I was still gaining weight. It’s weird that I found it hard to climb the stairs at work because my thighs felt so weak but could still swim a couple of km. I found it difficult to sleep and bruised pretty easily.

It was a bit of a shock to be told I might have a very rare brain tumour releasing the hormone cortisol that affects 10 in a Million people. Things went downhill and Cushing’s Disease really started breaking apart my body. My muscles wasted and I carried on putting on fat. Joints skin and feet were all affected. I’ve heard Cushing’s Disease called the ugly disease so yep not great…

Read more at Cushing’s Disease and how a brain tumour made me fat. | Skeptical Artist.

Lajla, Adrenal Bio

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Hi!

My name is Lajla, born 1967, in Umeå, Sweden. In August 2012 I was diagnosed with Cushings Syndrome (adrenal). My health status by this time was terrible, with almost every part of My body affected – i.e. Heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skelet, muscles, skin and a heavy weight. The very first time, I believe, I had symptoms fr.o.m. Cushings were in 2004, with adrenal pain and kidneys that reacted in a strange way. Tests results gave no clue. After that I’ve seen a doctor for several times, with new symptoms every time. The doctor didn’t believe me.

Summer 2012 I was in a very bad shape, with anxiety, fractures, insufficiens in both lungs and circulatory. I went to see another doctor, and that saved My life! In september 2012 My left adrenal gland (and the adenoma) was taken away. The result is called “very successfull”. Many of My problems are gone (or at least nearly). The weight is now normal, after the loss of about 92 lb. I still suffer from pain due to the many previus fractures and from the atrofia of the muscles. I also have adrenal insufficiens and fatigue. I can now do some easier work (that not needs muscles). For the first time since the ectomia I’ll have a real vacation! In about a week I’ll visit New York, something that I never thought would be possible!

Feel free to correct My english!

This site is the best for me to get information about Cushings. In Sweden there is none!

Thank you! 🙂

Lajla L

Port woman optimistic in fighting her ‘ugly disease’

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Anyone who knows lifelong Port Jervis resident Katie Onofry Sandberg knows that her upbeat personality does not let much get her down. Despite a life-threatening illness that she was diagnosed with as a teen, the cheerful young wife and mother says she loves life and is always aware that there are others who have it much worse. She is grateful for the support of her family, friends and community as she continues a strenuous course of treatment to fight the disease.

A benefit dinner attended by more than 200 was held recently at the Erie Trackside Manor to assist the Sandberg family with mounting expenses and to show support as Sandberg’s treatment continues.

Sandberg has Cushing’s disease, caused by a tumor on her pituitary gland, which releases too much adrenocorticotropic hormone throughout her body.

“I call this the ‘ugly disease’ because it causes major weight gain in your stomach and face, stretch marks, weak muscles, scarring, pigmentation issues, acne, increased facial hair, and loss of hair on your head,” Sandberg said. “The worst is when I have a hard time holding my baby girl, or not having enough energy to play with her. I do push myself, but majorly pay for it in the end. This can affect you emotionally and cause depression and anxiety, but I get a lot my optimism from my dad and have learned to deal with it.”

Sandberg said a biopsy taken during an eight-hour surgery in 1999 failed to find the tumor and caused her symptoms to spiral out of control. Extensive research and persistence on the part of her mother, Sue Onofry, led her to Massachusetts General Hospital. It was there that the disease was diagnosed in June 2001, the same month that then 18-year old Sandberg graduated from Port Jervis High School.

After successful transsphenoidal surgery a few months later, the tumor was removed and Sandberg was placed on steroids for adrenal balance.

“Seven years later, in 2008, I got off the steroids and was considered cured for the time being,” Sandberg said.

Over the next years, Sandberg earned an associate’s degree in business administration from SUNY Orange and CDA certificate from Keystone College, completed schooling in graphic design from the Art Institute online, worked in early childhood education and in public relations, owned Kate’s Cafe in downtown Port Jervis, married, and became a mom.

 

“I truly married my best friend. I had known Joe (Sandberg) since high school, but started dating in 2007 and married in 2009. They say you always marry a man like your father. Well, I definitely did in so many ways. He is so hardworking, supportive, and would do anything at all for his family,” Sandberg said. “Then, although I had been told that there was a high chance I would not be able to get pregnant, our miracle occurred. Ella Grace Sandberg was born on July 25, 2011.”

Over the past year, Sandberg’s symptoms returned. Cortisol tests came back in the 600s — a normal range is 18-50. In February, she underwent a second transsphenoidal surgery, which this time was unsuccessful. She was then placed on medicines to help regulate her cortisol levels. She will complete a six-week proton radiation treatment May 23.

“So far, the medicine treatment has been regulating me, which is great, and the radiation has a 95 percent success rate. The only hard part is that it is not immediate. It can take anywhere from one to ten years to work and kill the tumor cells. The key word with Cushing’s is patience,” Sandberg said. “About six months after treatment is finished, I will start testing to see if there is any improvement and to monitor my other hormone functions due to the effect of radiation on my pituitary gland.”

Having the young mom in Boston for so many weeks of treatment has been tough on the family. She said she greatly appreciates daily contact from her friends and family members, and is grateful that her daughter is being cared for by her husband, parents and in-laws.

“I could never have done this or continue to do this without them,” she said. “I am truly blessed.”

For more information on Cushing’s disease, Katie Onofry Sandberg recommends the Cushing’s Research Foundation  and she would be glad to answer questions herself at Kosandberg@gmail.com. She hopes that by sharing her story, she might bring awareness and possibly help for someone else.

From http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140516/COMM011101/405160302/-1/NEWS

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Lajla, Adrenal Bio

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I’m a woman of 45. Since 2007 I`ve carried a lot of strange symptoms. My doctor didn´t believe in me.

I met a new doctor in july 2012. He saw immediatly what was wrong.

Surgery in september 2012. That was the start of a new life.

The health is much better now although I have pain in my muscles, skeleton and  leads.

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