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In Memory: Kate Myers ~ June 23, 2014

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Kate (Fairley on the Cushing’s Help message boards)  was only 46 when she died on June 23, 2014.  Her board signature read:

After 2 failed pit surgeries and a CSF leak repair,
BLA on Sept. 11, 2008 w/Dr. Fraker at UPenn
Gamma knife radiation at UPenn Oct. 2009
Now disabled and homebound. No pit, no adrenals and radiation damage to my hypothalamus.
My cure is God’s will, and I still have hope and faith!

During her too-short life, she provided help and support to other Cushies.

Her National Geographic video in 2007

Her BlogTalkRadio Interview in 2008: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cushingshelp/2008/07/17/interview-with-kate-fairley

Articles to help others:

Kate’s Family Letter
Kate’s Packing Suggestions For Surgery
Kate’s Pituitary Surgery Observations

Kate’s bio from 2008:

Hi y’all! I will try to make this short, but there is a lot to say.

I stumbled across this board after a google search last night. Yesterday, I finally saw a real endocrinologist. I am 39 years old. I weigh 362. I was diagnosed by a reproductive endocrinologist with PCOS at age 30, but all of my symptoms started at age 22.

At age 22, I was an avid runner, healthy at 140-145 pounds and 5’7″. I got a knee injury and stopped running right around the time that my periods just….stopped. And by stopped, I mean completely disappeared after mostly regular periods since age 12. I was tested by the student health clinic at UGA, and referred to an obgyn for lap exploration for endometriosis, which was ruled out. I remember that they ran some bloodwork and ultimately came back with this frustrating response: We don’t know what it is, but it’s probably stress-related because your cortisol is elevated.

Soon thereafter, I gained 80 pounds in about 6 months, and another 30 the next six months. Suddenly, in one year, I was 110 pounds heavier than my original weight of 140. I recall my mom and sister talking about how fast I was gaining weight. At the time, I blamed myself: I wasn’t eating right, I’d had to stop running due to the knee injury and my metabolism must have been “used” to the running; I was going through some family problems, so it must be that I’m eating for emotional reasons related to depression. You name the self-blame category, and I tried them all on for size.

Whatever the reason, I stopped avoiding mirrors and cameras. The person looking back at me was a stranger, and acquaintances had stopped recognizing me. A bank refused to cash my security deposit refund check from my landlord when I graduated because I no longer looked like my student ID or my driver’s license. I was pulled over for speeding while driving my dad’s Mercedes graduation weekend, and the cop who pulled me over almost arrested me for presenting a false ID. These are some really painful memories, and I wonder if anyone here can relate to the pain of losing your physical identity to the point that you are a stranger to yourself and others?

Speaking of size, from age 24 to 26 I remained around 250, had very irregular periods occuring only a few times a year (some induced), developed cystic acne in weird places, like my chest, shoulders, buttocks (yikes!), found dark, angry purple stretch marks across my abdomen (some of which I thought were so severe that my insides were going to come out through them) which I blamed on the weight gain, the appearance of a pronounced buffalo hump (which actually started at age 22 at the beginning of the weight gain), dark black hairs on my fair Scottish chin (and I’m talking I now have to shave twice daily), a slight darkening of the skin around my neck and a heavy darkening of the skin in my groin area, tiny skin tags on my neck. I was feeling truly lovely by graduation from law school and my wedding to my wonderful DH.

At age 26, I ballooned again, this time up to 280-300, where I stayed until age 32, when I went up to 326. The pretty girl who used to get cat calls when she ran was no more. She had been buried under a mountain of masculined flesh. I still had a pretty, albeit very round, face, though. And I consoled myself that I still have lovely long blonde hair — that is, until it started falling out, breaking off, feeling like straw.

At age 30, I read about PCOS on the internet and referred myself to a reproductive endocrinologist, who confirmed insulin resistance after a glucose tolerance test. I do not know what else he tested for — I believe my testosterone was high. He prescribed Metformin, but after not having great success on it after 5-6 months, I quit taking it, and seeing him. Dumb move.

Two years later, at age 32, I weighed 326. In desperation, I went on Phentermine for 3 months and lost 80 pounds the wrong way, basically starving. I was back down to 240-250, where I remained from age 33-35. After the weight loss, I got my period a few times, and started thinking about trying to have a baby. Many ultrasounds per month over a few months revealed that I just wasn’t ovulating. I decided to put off starting the family when the doctor started talking about IVF, etc. It just seemed risky to me — my body, after all, felt SICK all the time, and I couldn’t imagine carrying a baby and it winding up to be healthy.

At age 35, I ballooned again, this time significantly — from 240 to 320 in the space of 6 months. Another 45 pounds added by age 37, so that’s 125 pounds in two year. I’ve remained between 345-365 for the last two years, depending on how closely I was following my nutritionist’s recommended 1600 calorie per day diet….which was not all the time.

Which takes me to last year. I went for a physical because I wasn’t feeling well, kept getting sick, had a lot of fatigue, weird sweating where my hair would get totally drenched for no reason. At this point, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, hypothyroism (which has now been modified to Hashimoto’s thyroidis), high cholesterol (although this was present at age 30 when I got the PCOS diagnosis). I went back to my repro-endo, and resolved to make myself stay on Metformin this time. All last year was a series of monthly blood work and attempts to lose weight with an eye toward trying to get pregnant this year. By the end of the year, I was successful in taking off only 20 pounds, and my repro-endo (always with an eye toward fertility and not health), really pushed me to give up on losing weight at that moment and to start taking Clomid. Or else, he said. The words that broke my heart: this may be your last chance.

So, skip forward to January 2006. My ovaries are blown out and they are clear — no blockages. I get cleared to start fertility treatments. My husband undergoes his own embarrassing tests. I think we have an agenda here, but my mind was chewing on serious concerns that I was simply too unhealthy to be considering trying this. That, and I felt it would be a futile effort.

By the way, more than a year on the Metformin with no real changes to anything. Why doesn’t my body respond to it like other people with PCOS?

Then late March, I started experiencing extreme fatigue. And I’m not talking about the kind where you need to take a nap on a Sunday afternoon to gear up for the week ahead (which I’d always considered a nice indulgence, but not a necessity). I’m talking debilitating, life-altering fatigue. It didn’t start out right away to be debilitating — or maybe I just made the usual excuses as I always do relating to my health: I’m still getting over that flu/cold from last month. I just got a promotion at work (though I note a greatly reduced stress and caseload now that I am a managing attorney. My weight is causing it. Whatever.

I let it go on for a full two months before I started to really worry, or admit to myself that my quality life had taken a serious downward turn. You see, despite my weight and my scary appearance, I have always been the “director” type. By that I mean that last year, I worked with two other women to direct 100 volunteers to start a summer camp for inner city kids, and I had enough energy to run this ambitious new project and to film, produce and edit a 30 minute documentary on it by the end of the summer.

In contrast, I had to take a backseat this year. I basically sat in a chair and answered the questions of volunteers, made a few phone calls here and there, and was simply a “presence” in case something major went wrong. Such a major change from the year before, where I was running the whole show 14 hours a day and loving it.

But I am getting ahead of myself. (Is anyone still reading this? I must be narcissitic to think so….yet, I wonder if anyone else has gone through a similar progression….)

Back to May. After two months of this fatigue, I change to a new primary care physician and get a whole workup: blood, urine, thyroid ultrasound, cardiac stress test, liver ultrasound when my enzymes, which had been slightly elevated, were found to have doubled since January. Appointments with a gastroenterologist, and FINALLY….a REAL endocrinologist. Ruled out any serious liver problems (and my levels, surprisingly, dropped back to the slightly elevated level in a space of 3 weeks and no treatment).

Yesterday, I heard a word I’d only heard spoken once before in my life: Cushings. Way back when I was 22 and had started gaining weight so rapidly, I had a boyfriend who worked the graveyard shift at the local hospital. He spent the better part of a non-eventful week of nights pouring over medical books in the library. He excitedly showed me the pages he’d photocopied, which had sketches of a woman with a very rounded face (like mine), striae on her stomach (like mine), abdomenal obesity (like mine) and a pronounced buffalo hump. Although my former boyfriend was just a college student working his way through his music degree by earing some money moonlighting as a hospital security guard, he was the first one to note all of these tell-tale signs.

When I got my diagnosis of PCOS, I remember discounting his amateur diagnosis, and I never thought of it again.

Until yesterday, when my new endo asked me if anyone had ever tested my cortisol or if I’d ever done a 24 hour urine test. I said no, and he started writing out the referral form along with like 15-20 different blood tests. And although we’d started our appointment with him telling me he agreed with my repro-endo’s encouragement to go ahead and try to get pregnant if I can, by the end of the visit, he was telling me not everyone is meant to be a parent, there is always adoption, etc. The only thing that happened during the appointment was that I gave him my basic history of weight gain, described the fatigue, and let him examine my striae, buffalo hump and legs (which were hidden under a long straight skirt). The question about the urine screen and corisol came after this physical exam, during which he was taking lots of notes.

Then the word, which was not spoken directly to me but to his nurse practioner as I was making my two-week appointment in the reception area outside the examining room: “She looks classic Cushings. I’ll be interested to get those results.”

Cushings. Cushings. No– that’s not me. I’m not that weird-shaped, hairy, mannish-looking, round-faced, hump-backed creature my boyfriend had shown me a picture of 16 years earlier. I have PCOS, right? It’s just my fault. I don’t eat right. If I’d just eat better, I wouldn’t be 2.5 times my weight in college. Right?

I quickly came home and did an internet search. Within an hour, I was sitting in front of the computer, reading some bios here and BAWLING, just crying some body-wracking sobs as I looked at the pictures of the people on this board. Here, here (!!!!) is an entire community who has the same, wrenchingly painful picture-proven physical progression that I went through. The same symptoms and signs. Words of encouragement — of….hope. I didn’t feel scared to read about the possibility of a pituitary tumor — last year, I had a brain MRI of the optic nerve because of sudden vision irregularities, headaches and shooting eye pain. The MRI showed nothing, but then again, the image was not that great because I had to go into the lower-resolution open MRI due to my size.

I have no idea whether I have Cushing’s Syndrome or not, but these are my first steps in my journey of finding out. After living my entire adult life with an array of progressive, untreatable, brushed-off symptoms (and years of self-blame for depression, obesity, becoming so unattractive), there was a major “click” as I read this site, and a sense of relief that maybe, just maybe, what I have has a name, I’m not crazy/fat/ugly/lazy, the PCOS diagnosis, which has gotten me nowhere is incorrect, and I might have something TREATABLE.

So, without going so far as to say I hope for a diagnosis, I am hopeful for some definitive answers. If my urine tests are inconclusive (and my doctor only ordered one and no serum cortisol tests), I am going to fly out to L.A. and see Dr. Friedman for a full work up.

And, I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you for posting your stories, which have encouraged me to advocate for myself in a manner and direction, which this time, may be fruitful.

Be well, my new friends,
Kate

p.s. I will post some pictures this week after I scan some of the “after” one….I try to avoid the camera at all costs. I’m sure you understand just what I’m talking about, and for that, I am truly grateful.

 

Mandy, Undiagnosed Bio

1 Comment

golden-oldie

 

Originally from July 19, 2008

AMANDA M JUNE 2008 – INVESTIGATIONS

Hi, This is my document,which I have sent to the doctors, I thought I’d add it as my bio..

FEB 2005 Constipation, Craving for starchy food, Blocked nose right side and change in shape of right side of nose – flattened cartilage.

END OF AUGUST 2005
Large cyst in left side vulva, 2 x two weeks antibiotics wasn’t resolved operation to drain the cyst.

SEPTEMBER 2005
Swelling of stomach after operation, went to doctors thought IBS was given Fibre gel, stomach distended couldn’t go to the toilet for 10 days a lot of pain and a big thick blistering rash at base of spine.

Nurses visited to give enemas wouldn’t work a lot of pain they refused to continue. A&E – X-rayed showed Impacted faeces , given Movicol which worked, told to eat lots of fruit and veg. Did as advised became impacted again.

Ultra sound of ovaries and Stomach – Couldn’t see as fizzing from laxatives.

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2005
Doctor referred to Gastro Doctor McStay – Scheduled for Endocopsy – Confirmed Hiatus Hernia

December 2005 / 2006
New Years eve very down and ill with continuous impaction and other symptoms. Friend said to stay at hers and not to stay on my own as it was New Years Eve. Had a few drinks of rum. Early hours of the morning went to bathroom started sweating – collapsed – came to briefly and was on the floor couldn’t control body – friend came in I was having a fit – had cut my mouth and nose. Went A&E new Years day, they said must have been a one off.

January 2006
Sindosopy – Minor inflammation, slow bowel

Follow up Dr. McStay – Advised to take Mil Par for rest of life

February 2006
Symptoms worse very distressed had spoken to PALS previously as felt so ill to wait for appointments and hadn’t been advised what to do next. I had a phone call from a lady at PALS at home she advised me to see A homeopath and said I had Candida from all antibiotics and gave me contact information for a lady to go and see. I Looked up Candida Diet on the internet and started the diet and also went to my doctors at Southchurch Boulevard and asked for an antifungal. He gave me the tablets and I felt really good whilst on them and on the diet but stopped when I didn’t have anymore tablets left.

March 2006
Homeopath (details given to me by PALS) – said I had systemic Candida and low in vitamin’s and took foods out of my diet intolerances and I started being able to go to the toilet a bit better and felt a bit better as month went on. Although always have a swollen stomach, much improved with diet. Also, the ryvita that I was allowed to eat affected my stomach.

Could only eat plain rice, potato, lean meat, Fish. If I ate wrong food I was ill some times I had bad nausea aswell as distension and constipation and other symptoms. If I ate fat I would have nausea and pain in my right back.

I also started getting a lump in my lip which turned into about 10 blisters and the blisters have gone but the lumps is always there and dries out all the time and it sometimes turns into blisters but never goes.

OCTOBER 2006
Homeopath said I should be okay and to introduce foods I did this and became ill. She advised me that I must have an underlying condition, which is why it wont go and said to go back to doctors.

December 2007
I was very low as I thought I was getting better and kept eating foods which made me ill as I was depressed over Christmas. Then I went to a new Doctor at Cluny Square and explained what was happening. He said possibility of Celiac I had blood tests but not biopsy and the diet was pretty much a Celiac diet. The doctor to have me sent back to Gastro and he will try and help me with investigations.

I went back on the diet. I had also applied for a new career at the NHS as a Trainee Radiotherapist previously as I thought I was getting better and I was given the job which started in February 2007.

March 2007
Dr. Mcstay – said I’d been tested for Celiac but not had biopsy agreed to do tests but said I would have to eat for 5 weeks for biopsy as been doing the diet. They said if I had been on the diet that long I may of healed my gut. I was still trying to eat low carb whilst doing the challenge so ate low carb ( I don’t know if maybe I didn’t eat enough in the 5 weeks to do the damage for celiac.

I started the eating gluten also stopped the Birth Control Pill as I felt too ill to go and get my next pack and thought it may help if I had a break. I had previously been off the pill a few years back and didn’t have a period for 1.5 years and just went back on it.

I was signed off work as too ill for the whole 5 weeks. My symptoms were much worse this time during the eating for the test. Also doctor said my thyroid was a bit low.

APRIL / MAY 2007
I returned to work had been back on my diet for a week – My results came through and it tested negative for celiac. I was very stressed as I still didn’t know what was wrong.

I spoke to a dietitn at work and she agreed to try and help – she put me on a anti yeast diet (still eating wheat etc )and said to ask for antifungal from doctor but doctor couldn’t give me a very long course it didn’t make much difference. She then advised me to eat normally maybe I was malnourished from diet and I just got worse and worse and my skin had started changing like it was dehydrated, shrivelled up like crepe paper and thin. I was eating chocolate as was down and was very nauseous after but felt like giving up as was so ill so kept eating wrong foods .

JUNE 2007
I was very ill eating foods that made me ill. Still off the pill. There had been stress at my family my Dad had left. I left work early as stomach hurt and was very nauseous went home and decided to try a antidepressant 20 mg Prozac on the Friday. There was a big row with Parents on the Saturday, I wasn’t really with it as on the tablets. On the Sunday night I woke up with a very bad headache like pressure in my head and nose I felt very strange I don’t know what happened but I wasn’t with it at all.

My face, neck, arm, back of hamstring around my bottom on the right side had changed. I had bad dioreah for a good week may be it was the shock – I lost quite a few pounds very fast as everything went straight through me. My skin Pale, clammy.

On the Monday I saw Dr. Palacian who advised me to stop the tablets I may have had a reaction (HE SAID I COULD STILL BE CELIAC). I became a lot more anxious and depressed following this as I was scared of what had happened and my family were caught up in there problems and didn’t realise what was going on. I couldn’t stand being at home as was getting panic attacks as it happened in my house so I stayed with my Nan. She was very shocked as I was so thin, I had a black mark down my right side of face a rash also on my face which she has a photo of .

JULY 2007
Occupational health referred me to Physiatrist and I explained what had happened. She advised me I didn’t have a mental problem although I was depressed due to what was happening. She advised me to see Endocrine and Dermatology as she said the mark across my face was a sign of autoimmune disease.

I was desperate to get better and back to work so I borrowed money to private to endocrine. I had blood tests and then after was followed up at southend hospital and the specialist said he had spoken to doctor Adey and I was depressed and nothing on the blood tests.

I then requested an Ultra sound as I had read about PCOS and it did show cysts on both ovaries but nothing on the blood tests prior to this.

(Previous doctor) Dr. Adey said I may have lock jaw but no one said anything about my neck or other limb problems.

DR.MARVRA
I decided to pay to go to a Neurologist as I was so desperate and knew Bells Palsy doesn’t affect one side of my body. I did think I had a stroke. Neurologist advised I needed Pituitary MRI, Parathyroid and various other tests. She said my reflexes were absent and told me to stop doing the diet as it may affect the testing but I couldn’t function without this diet. ( I had been eating wheat etc running up to seeing Dr. Marvra)

AUGUST 2007
Nerve Conduction Test – Normal – was on diet

Follow UP SEPTEMBER 2007
Dr. Banister -Neurology

I had to explain again from the start – I had been on the diet again and this time had reflexes. She said probably a bit of bells palsy, didn’t know what was wrong with my neck or limbs on right side. She also to refer me to Charring Cross for Fibromylagia but Doctor Adey wouldn’t refer me. She sent me to a Physio for bells palsy but it didn’t help.

SEPTEMBER 2007
Dermatology – Basildon Hospital I didn’t get to explain anything he quickly examined me and said no cancer and sent me on my way.

OCTOBER 2007
I became very depressed scared suicidal and was admitted to Basildon Hospital for one night and then referred to Taylor Centre. I tried to work with them as I know I am depressed and I am still down but not suicidal now. I was too scared to take antidepressant they wanted me to take as I was previously advised I could have had a reaction to the tablet and didn’t want anything else to happen. I tried the antidepressant Effofor, but it made my anxiety very bad and I was worried about what happened last time so I stopped it.

NOVEMBER 2007
Referred to Gene for PCOS – I was still very emotional as ill, kept eating foods as depressed, and very upset about my face neck and right side as not been diagnosed. I didn’t communicate very well with GYNE because of the state I was in. I asked about Metiformin as I had read this is to do with PCOS but was advised I had to be very fat or want to have a baby. No periods for the last 6 months.

I saw Occupational Health again and was advised to change doctors. I had asked Doctor Adey many times to refer me to chronic fatigue and did receive a letter confirming that he would but he never followed it up. So I decided to change doctors as I was getting worse and was closer to loosing my new job and felt even worse than before.

JANUARY 2008
Dr. Syed agreed to start from scratch and sent me for blood tests which showed high cholesterol. I was much more positive again. I also decided to see a chiropractioner as my neck was hurting all the time cant hold my head up properly and my bottom / leg was flat when I walked and ached with any resistance walking.

Chiropractioner said I had a wry neck, facial drooping, and weakness and said I should have a brain scan and also mentioned Carotid Arteries but he wouldn’t touch me he said something going on may be neurological. He wrote me a letter to take to dr. Syed. It also mentioned having a breast examination as I have implants and the right side has shrunk and aches when I lay on that side.

Dr. Syed referred for all Specialists.

Breast Ultra sound – implant looked fine but change in fat in breast, shrunk on right side and skin droopy.

Neurologist – Referred – back to Dr. Marvra

Dr. Marvra had the letter and it did say I was misdiagnosed with Bells Palsy – I didn’t get to explain anything Dr. Marvra said I don’t need brain scan you have too many symptoms which don’t relate to my department but she said she would send me to a Rheumatologist.

APRIL 2008
I was referred to Dr. Nuduka – Facial Reconstruction Surgeon for Bells Palsy only Specialist in the UK. He said he doesn’t think it was Bells Palsy and mentioned having a EEG but this was not mentioned to Dr. Syed in the letter.

APRIL 2008
Dentist couldn’t perform root canal as couldn’t open my mouth wide enough – x-rayed my jaw and said its in a spasm – sent me to Oral Surgeon

Dr. Sha Oral surgery
He was very nice and asked about my other symptoms. He said it sounds like you have a few things going on, which is why so many symptoms he said he wanted me to have a brain scan and some blood tests.

I was able to tell him every symptom, which I felt stupid telling other consultants. He said I don’t have bells palsy, I have facial, neck and limb weakness and it will get better. He also said I have some TMJ and gave me some 10 mg of Nortipline to help me sleep as my mouth is in shreds from biting gums. He said he will make me a gum shield. He tried to run a tests for (cushings syndrome / possibly food induced) as he said my skin has atrophied and is thin and fragile with bruising along with other relevant symptoms.

Follow up with Dr. Sha – My brain scan showed a cyst in the right side of my sinus in the area of the facial weakness he didn’t think this was the cause of my right sided weakness. Dr. Sha ordered blood tests for Cortisol to investigate Cushing’s Syndrome but the Sythechen test couldn’t be performed as it had to be requested via Endocrine.

Dr. Sha said he needs me to have a second opinion but I must tell the Consultant everything I told him as it was all important.

Rheumatology
This consultant was running an hour late I wasn’t allowed to explain anything. The consultant just said I am a Rheumatologist have you any swollen joints. The consultant couldn’t explain my neck and said about physo but I had tried this and it never has got better. A nurse came in asking about my periods due to results of urine sample but she was told to leave, I never heard anymore about that. I was upset and the reception said its probably as she is running late in her clinic.

Follow Up Oral Surgery
I then had my Follow up in Oral Surgery with a Consultant. My Dad came with me. There was nurses and doctors in and out of the room using the photocopier which was very off putting and I didn’t feel like the consultant had much time as he said to keep it short. He didn’t acknowledge my facial weakness or my neck and he said I am not saying nothing wrong but I don’t know what’s wrong. They didn’t carry out the Cushing Test.

JUNE 2008
I am currently being referred to a specialist in the Parry Romberg Syndrome, which I stumbled across whilst trying to help my self. I wrote to the specialist after contacting the PRS support group. He agreed to see me based on my symptoms and Cathy Rehill at my doctors has organised this referral.

I am struggling with the constant awkward feeling of my neck as it has no strength on the right side, I cant lift anything above my head as it locks into a more rigid spasm and also affects my shoulder.

I am back on the celiac diet as I ant function otherwise due to the many symptoms I get. I am struggling with the diet as I have other intolerances other than the celiac diet, sugar, yeast, dairy, fermented foods. I do have a letter from Mary McStay confirming that you can only have systemic Candida if you have an celiac, or other autoimmune disease and if immune compromised.

I am naturally worried about the diet I am doing as fruit is very important with diet but I then suffer the faecal impaction. I am now also concerned that maybe where I have been on and off the diet it has affected the tests that I have had but I can feel that I am damaging my body further every time I eat the foods that affect me. It is very difficult to stick to such a rigid diet especially when I am struggling to get around some days and have difficulty getting to supermarkets.

I am very upset about the affect this illness has had on my appearance, my skin is so dry dehydrated, loss of skin elasticity, facial drooping, twisted neck, hollow eye, wasting on nose, general loss of muscle tone all over , flattened buttocks, bloating all the time. I am hoping this will improve once I know what’s wrong and when I am treated.

The palms of my hands keep shrivelling up, drying out and going tight and then the skin flakes on and off throughout every day and this is really worrying me also. Along with the pain in the right side of my back. My skin has got so thin that when I rest my elbows on a table for a couple of minutes they really hurt and go bright red and look like I’ve fallen over. I have marks on my arms which are months old from blood tests, spots and cuts that don’t heal.

I also just went back to the ladies clinic for a second biopsy as they found HPV virus last year. They advised me that I still have this infection and normally the body gets rid of it but my immune system must be compromised as its still there. I have got to go back in 6 months for another check up.

When I eat wrong I have also noticed that my body seems to be swollen like I have water retention and my face and eyes are very puffy. I can also feel the weakness / wasting a lot more if I’ve eaten wrong. I have no quality of life, I don’t go anywhere as don’t feel up to it or due to restricted diet and not able to drink alcohol, I cant go to the gym like I did due to the weakness or wasting in my right leg neck and arm. Fatigued and never feel well, I have no libido or sensitivity at all and I still have no period.

My Parents are now being very supportive as they are concerned about my health and recent deterioration, which has given me the strength to try and stay positive that I will get to the bottom of this. I do appreciate the help I have had from doctors and specialists but it is frustrating as I seem to have a complex illness or maybe something rare, which is making this difficult to diagnose. I have been very patient and I have done everything I’ve been advised to do but this has gone on to long and I cant live like this much longer.

Thank you for support and for reading this document. I hope it makes it easier to understand what’s going on and why I am so upset when I visit the doctor.

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In Memory: Kate Myers ~ 2014

3 Comments

kate-fbkate

Kate (Fairley on the Cushing’s Help message boards)  was only 46 when she died on June 23, 2014.  Her board signature read:

After 2 failed pit surgeries and a CSF leak repair,
BLA on Sept. 11, 2008 w/Dr. Fraker at UPenn
Gamma knife radiation at UPenn Oct. 2009
Now disabled and homebound. No pit, no adrenals and radiation damage to my hypothalamus.
My cure is God’s will, and I still have hope and faith!

During her too-short life, she provided help and support to other Cushies.

Her National Geographic video in 2007

Her BlogTalkRadio Interview in 2008: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cushingshelp/2008/07/17/interview-with-kate-fairley

Articles to help others:

Kate’s Family Letter
Kate’s Packing Suggestions For Surgery
Kate’s Pituitary Surgery Observations

Kate’s bio from 2008:

Hi y’all! I will try to make this short, but there is a lot to say.

I stumbled across this board after a google search last night. Yesterday, I finally saw a real endocrinologist. I am 39 years old. I weigh 362. I was diagnosed by a reproductive endocrinologist with PCOS at age 30, but all of my symptoms started at age 22.

At age 22, I was an avid runner, healthy at 140-145 pounds and 5’7″. I got a knee injury and stopped running right around the time that my periods just….stopped. And by stopped, I mean completely disappeared after mostly regular periods since age 12. I was tested by the student health clinic at UGA, and referred to an obgyn for lap exploration for endometriosis, which was ruled out. I remember that they ran some bloodwork and ultimately came back with this frustrating response: We don’t know what it is, but it’s probably stress-related because your cortisol is elevated.

Soon thereafter, I gained 80 pounds in about 6 months, and another 30 the next six months. Suddenly, in one year, I was 110 pounds heavier than my original weight of 140. I recall my mom and sister talking about how fast I was gaining weight. At the time, I blamed myself: I wasn’t eating right, I’d had to stop running due to the knee injury and my metabolism must have been “used” to the running; I was going through some family problems, so it must be that I’m eating for emotional reasons related to depression. You name the self-blame category, and I tried them all on for size.

Whatever the reason, I stopped avoiding mirrors and cameras. The person looking back at me was a stranger, and acquaintances had stopped recognizing me. A bank refused to cash my security deposit refund check from my landlord when I graduated because I no longer looked like my student ID or my driver’s license. I was pulled over for speeding while driving my dad’s Mercedes graduation weekend, and the cop who pulled me over almost arrested me for presenting a false ID. These are some really painful memories, and I wonder if anyone here can relate to the pain of losing your physical identity to the point that you are a stranger to yourself and others?

Speaking of size, from age 24 to 26 I remained around 250, had very irregular periods occuring only a few times a year (some induced), developed cystic acne in weird places, like my chest, shoulders, buttocks (yikes!), found dark, angry purple stretch marks across my abdomen (some of which I thought were so severe that my insides were going to come out through them) which I blamed on the weight gain, the appearance of a pronounced buffalo hump (which actually started at age 22 at the beginning of the weight gain), dark black hairs on my fair Scottish chin (and I’m talking I now have to shave twice daily), a slight darkening of the skin around my neck and a heavy darkening of the skin in my groin area, tiny skin tags on my neck. I was feeling truly lovely by graduation from law school and my wedding to my wonderful DH.

At age 26, I ballooned again, this time up to 280-300, where I stayed until age 32, when I went up to 326. The pretty girl who used to get cat calls when she ran was no more. She had been buried under a mountain of masculined flesh. I still had a pretty, albeit very round, face, though. And I consoled myself that I still have lovely long blonde hair — that is, until it started falling out, breaking off, feeling like straw.

At age 30, I read about PCOS on the internet and referred myself to a reproductive endocrinologist, who confirmed insulin resistance after a glucose tolerance test. I do not know what else he tested for — I believe my testosterone was high. He prescribed Metformin, but after not having great success on it after 5-6 months, I quit taking it, and seeing him. Dumb move.

Two years later, at age 32, I weighed 326. In desperation, I went on Phentermine for 3 months and lost 80 pounds the wrong way, basically starving. I was back down to 240-250, where I remained from age 33-35. After the weight loss, I got my period a few times, and started thinking about trying to have a baby. Many ultrasounds per month over a few months revealed that I just wasn’t ovulating. I decided to put off starting the family when the doctor started talking about IVF, etc. It just seemed risky to me — my body, after all, felt SICK all the time, and I couldn’t imagine carrying a baby and it winding up to be healthy.

At age 35, I ballooned again, this time significantly — from 240 to 320 in the space of 6 months. Another 45 pounds added by age 37, so that’s 125 pounds in two year. I’ve remained between 345-365 for the last two years, depending on how closely I was following my nutritionist’s recommended 1600 calorie per day diet….which was not all the time.

Which takes me to last year. I went for a physical because I wasn’t feeling well, kept getting sick, had a lot of fatigue, weird sweating where my hair would get totally drenched for no reason. At this point, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, hypothyroism (which has now been modified to Hashimoto’s thyroidis), high cholesterol (although this was present at age 30 when I got the PCOS diagnosis). I went back to my repro-endo, and resolved to make myself stay on Metformin this time. All last year was a series of monthly blood work and attempts to lose weight with an eye toward trying to get pregnant this year. By the end of the year, I was successful in taking off only 20 pounds, and my repro-endo (always with an eye toward fertility and not health), really pushed me to give up on losing weight at that moment and to start taking Clomid. Or else, he said. The words that broke my heart: this may be your last chance.

So, skip forward to January 2006. My ovaries are blown out and they are clear — no blockages. I get cleared to start fertility treatments. My husband undergoes his own embarrassing tests. I think we have an agenda here, but my mind was chewing on serious concerns that I was simply too unhealthy to be considering trying this. That, and I felt it would be a futile effort.

By the way, more than a year on the Metformin with no real changes to anything. Why doesn’t my body respond to it like other people with PCOS?

Then late March, I started experiencing extreme fatigue. And I’m not talking about the kind where you need to take a nap on a Sunday afternoon to gear up for the week ahead (which I’d always considered a nice indulgence, but not a necessity). I’m talking debilitating, life-altering fatigue. It didn’t start out right away to be debilitating — or maybe I just made the usual excuses as I always do relating to my health: I’m still getting over that flu/cold from last month. I just got a promotion at work (though I note a greatly reduced stress and caseload now that I am a managing attorney. My weight is causing it. Whatever.

I let it go on for a full two months before I started to really worry, or admit to myself that my quality life had taken a serious downward turn. You see, despite my weight and my scary appearance, I have always been the “director” type. By that I mean that last year, I worked with two other women to direct 100 volunteers to start a summer camp for inner city kids, and I had enough energy to run this ambitious new project and to film, produce and edit a 30 minute documentary on it by the end of the summer.

In contrast, I had to take a backseat this year. I basically sat in a chair and answered the questions of volunteers, made a few phone calls here and there, and was simply a “presence” in case something major went wrong. Such a major change from the year before, where I was running the whole show 14 hours a day and loving it.

But I am getting ahead of myself. (Is anyone still reading this? I must be narcissitic to think so….yet, I wonder if anyone else has gone through a similar progression….)

Back to May. After two months of this fatigue, I change to a new primary care physician and get a whole workup: blood, urine, thyroid ultrasound, cardiac stress test, liver ultrasound when my enzymes, which had been slightly elevated, were found to have doubled since January. Appointments with a gastroenterologist, and FINALLY….a REAL endocrinologist. Ruled out any serious liver problems (and my levels, surprisingly, dropped back to the slightly elevated level in a space of 3 weeks and no treatment).

Yesterday, I heard a word I’d only heard spoken once before in my life: Cushings. Way back when I was 22 and had started gaining weight so rapidly, I had a boyfriend who worked the graveyard shift at the local hospital. He spent the better part of a non-eventful week of nights pouring over medical books in the library. He excitedly showed me the pages he’d photocopied, which had sketches of a woman with a very rounded face (like mine), striae on her stomach (like mine), abdomenal obesity (like mine) and a pronounced buffalo hump. Although my former boyfriend was just a college student working his way through his music degree by earing some money moonlighting as a hospital security guard, he was the first one to note all of these tell-tale signs.

When I got my diagnosis of PCOS, I remember discounting his amateur diagnosis, and I never thought of it again.

Until yesterday, when my new endo asked me if anyone had ever tested my cortisol or if I’d ever done a 24 hour urine test. I said no, and he started writing out the referral form along with like 15-20 different blood tests. And although we’d started our appointment with him telling me he agreed with my repro-endo’s encouragement to go ahead and try to get pregnant if I can, by the end of the visit, he was telling me not everyone is meant to be a parent, there is always adoption, etc. The only thing that happened during the appointment was that I gave him my basic history of weight gain, described the fatigue, and let him examine my striae, buffalo hump and legs (which were hidden under a long straight skirt). The question about the urine screen and corisol came after this physical exam, during which he was taking lots of notes.

Then the word, which was not spoken directly to me but to his nurse practioner as I was making my two-week appointment in the reception area outside the examining room: “She looks classic Cushings. I’ll be interested to get those results.”

Cushings. Cushings. No– that’s not me. I’m not that weird-shaped, hairy, mannish-looking, round-faced, hump-backed creature my boyfriend had shown me a picture of 16 years earlier. I have PCOS, right? It’s just my fault. I don’t eat right. If I’d just eat better, I wouldn’t be 2.5 times my weight in college. Right?

I quickly came home and did an internet search. Within an hour, I was sitting in front of the computer, reading some bios here and BAWLING, just crying some body-wracking sobs as I looked at the pictures of the people on this board. Here, here (!!!!) is an entire community who has the same, wrenchingly painful picture-proven physical progression that I went through. The same symptoms and signs. Words of encouragement — of….hope. I didn’t feel scared to read about the possibility of a pituitary tumor — last year, I had a brain MRI of the optic nerve because of sudden vision irregularities, headaches and shooting eye pain. The MRI showed nothing, but then again, the image was not that great because I had to go into the lower-resolution open MRI due to my size.

I have no idea whether I have Cushing’s Syndrome or not, but these are my first steps in my journey of finding out. After living my entire adult life with an array of progressive, untreatable, brushed-off symptoms (and years of self-blame for depression, obesity, becoming so unattractive), there was a major “click” as I read this site, and a sense of relief that maybe, just maybe, what I have has a name, I’m not crazy/fat/ugly/lazy, the PCOS diagnosis, which has gotten me nowhere is incorrect, and I might have something TREATABLE.

So, without going so far as to say I hope for a diagnosis, I am hopeful for some definitive answers. If my urine tests are inconclusive (and my doctor only ordered one and no serum cortisol tests), I am going to fly out to L.A. and see Dr. Friedman for a full work up.

And, I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you for posting your stories, which have encouraged me to advocate for myself in a manner and direction, which this time, may be fruitful.

Be well, my new friends,
Kate

p.s. I will post some pictures this week after I scan some of the “after” one….I try to avoid the camera at all costs. I’m sure you understand just what I’m talking about, and for that, I am truly grateful.

 

Rita (Rita), Steroid-Induced Bio

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Hello to those who are frustrated & suffering!

My real search for a diagnosis began vigilantly just over 2 years ago. I was extremely hot,exhausted,weight gain (unexplained) and not sleeping well and sleeping all the time but extremely fatigued!!! My face became very round and my facial & body skin was a nightmare.

My husband kept saying that he thought it was systemic but I wasn’t sure. And, this sounds so sill but completely true, I was watching an episode of Doc Martin (UK series) where a woman was having trouble and he told her she had Cushings. Well, I had never heard of this disease so I looked it up on the internet and told my husband that’s what I have. Of course, he said that I was being silly.

I had very upset stomach most of the time to I had an endoscopy & colonoscopy where large cysts had developed. I also had burning and nagging pain in my upper thigh area thinking it was my Lymph nodes. Many more cysts were discovered on my ovaries and all the doctors cold focus on were the cysts and telling me that my blood pressure was too high and that I needed to lose weight.

I few months later I noticed small purple striations on my abdomen and just knew I had Cushings. So, I asked my doctor if he could run cortisol test on me and he said no problem. I had also told him at this time that I was using a steroid cream to control my eczema and he said that would not cause not effect me in such a way to cause such problems.

I had beeen to the emergency room, had 4 CT scans, atleast 7 ultrasounds, 2 MRI’s and so many blood tests that I had lost count.

Another doctor had recommended that I see an Oncologist so I saw 2 of them…..still no idea and 2 more visits to the emergency room.

I sent all my files and tests to the best Endocrinologist I could find and still had to wait 6 months for an initial appointment.

During the 6 months of waiting to see my Endocrinologist, my body had taken a severe turn for the worse. I could barely step up onto a curb and would spend 3 weeks straight in a bed.

I was extremely depressed and felt like I was dying!!!

April of 2014 my long awaited appointment to see THE BEST ENDOCRINOLOGIST in the state finally came!!!!! He took one look at me and said you have Cushings without a doubt!!!! he saw all the other files and tests that the other doctors had done and said they all did the same exact tests and have absolutley no idea what they are doing.

This is the best doctor I have ever been to see in my entire life, he spent over 1 hour with my during my first evaluation. (Please know,that he is not even covered by my insurance but I didn’t care……shelled out $510 and it saved my life.)

He would stop asking me questions until he got to the root of what was causing the Cushings. And it was the cream that I was using to control my eczema!!!!!!! Yes, please know that Cobetasol Proprionate will cause Cushings if used on a long term basis.

I had no warnings or instructions from my Dermatologist. He just said use this on your eczema.

Dr. Neil Breit saved my life!!!! He said that I was hands down, the worse case he had ever seen!!! And he said that I would have definitely been dead in 1 or 2years at best.

If you live in the Northeast, please seek out this doctor. He is the best and very passionate & loves his work. He truly cares and brings lots of smiles with his treatment!!!!j

Dr. Breit still spends 1 hour with me on every office there. And I still pay full price but do not mind, because he saved my life!!!

Also, right before my diagnosis, I discovered GERSON THERAPY. Regardless of whatever is wrong or just being healthy, juicing helps me immensely with energy and just feeling better as a whole!!!

Thank you for enduring my long story!!!!! Keep fighting for your diagnosis and don’t stop till you get one!!!

Thank you kindly for reading my story,
Rita in New Jersey

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In Memory: Kate Myers

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kate-fb kate

 

Kate (Fairley on the Cushing’s Help message boards)  was only 46 when she died on June 23, 2014.  Her board signature read:

After 2 failed pit surgeries and a CSF leak repair,
BLA on Sept. 11, 2008 w/Dr. Fraker at UPenn
Gamma knife radiation at UPenn Oct. 2009
Now disabled and homebound. No pit, no adrenals and radiation damage to my hypothalamus.
My cure is God’s will, and I still have hope and faith!

During her too-short life, she provided help and support to other Cushies.

Her National Geographic video in 2007

Her BlogTalkRadio Interview in 2008: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cushingshelp/2008/07/17/interview-with-kate-fairley

Articles to help others:

Kate’s Family Letter
Kate’s Packing Suggestions For Surgery
Kate’s Pituitary Surgery Observations

Kate’s bio from 2008:

Hi y’all! I will try to make this short, but there is a lot to say.

I stumbled across this board after a google search last night. Yesterday, I finally saw a real endocrinologist. I am 39 years old. I weigh 362. I was diagnosed by a reproductive endocrinologist with PCOS at age 30, but all of my symptoms started at age 22.

At age 22, I was an avid runner, healthy at 140-145 pounds and 5’7″. I got a knee injury and stopped running right around the time that my periods just….stopped. And by stopped, I mean completely disappeared after mostly regular periods since age 12. I was tested by the student health clinic at UGA, and referred to an obgyn for lap exploration for endometriosis, which was ruled out. I remember that they ran some bloodwork and ultimately came back with this frustrating response: We don’t know what it is, but it’s probably stress-related because your cortisol is elevated.

Soon thereafter, I gained 80 pounds in about 6 months, and another 30 the next six months. Suddenly, in one year, I was 110 pounds heavier than my original weight of 140. I recall my mom and sister talking about how fast I was gaining weight. At the time, I blamed myself: I wasn’t eating right, I’d had to stop running due to the knee injury and my metabolism must have been “used” to the running; I was going through some family problems, so it must be that I’m eating for emotional reasons related to depression. You name the self-blame category, and I tried them all on for size.

Whatever the reason, I stopped avoiding mirrors and cameras. The person looking back at me was a stranger, and acquaintances had stopped recognizing me. A bank refused to cash my security deposit refund check from my landlord when I graduated because I no longer looked like my student ID or my driver’s license. I was pulled over for speeding while driving my dad’s Mercedes graduation weekend, and the cop who pulled me over almost arrested me for presenting a false ID. These are some really painful memories, and I wonder if anyone here can relate to the pain of losing your physical identity to the point that you are a stranger to yourself and others?

Speaking of size, from age 24 to 26 I remained around 250, had very irregular periods occuring only a few times a year (some induced), developed cystic acne in weird places, like my chest, shoulders, buttocks (yikes!), found dark, angry purple stretch marks across my abdomen (some of which I thought were so severe that my insides were going to come out through them) which I blamed on the weight gain, the appearance of a pronounced buffalo hump (which actually started at age 22 at the beginning of the weight gain), dark black hairs on my fair Scottish chin (and I’m talking I now have to shave twice daily), a slight darkening of the skin around my neck and a heavy darkening of the skin in my groin area, tiny skin tags on my neck. I was feeling truly lovely by graduation from law school and my wedding to my wonderful DH.

At age 26, I ballooned again, this time up to 280-300, where I stayed until age 32, when I went up to 326. The pretty girl who used to get cat calls when she ran was no more. She had been buried under a mountain of masculined flesh. I still had a pretty, albeit very round, face, though. And I consoled myself that I still have lovely long blonde hair — that is, until it started falling out, breaking off, feeling like straw.

At age 30, I read about PCOS on the internet and referred myself to a reproductive endocrinologist, who confirmed insulin resistance after a glucose tolerance test. I do not know what else he tested for — I believe my testosterone was high. He prescribed Metformin, but after not having great success on it after 5-6 months, I quit taking it, and seeing him. Dumb move.

Two years later, at age 32, I weighed 326. In desperation, I went on Phentermine for 3 months and lost 80 pounds the wrong way, basically starving. I was back down to 240-250, where I remained from age 33-35. After the weight loss, I got my period a few times, and started thinking about trying to have a baby. Many ultrasounds per month over a few months revealed that I just wasn’t ovulating. I decided to put off starting the family when the doctor started talking about IVF, etc. It just seemed risky to me — my body, after all, felt SICK all the time, and I couldn’t imagine carrying a baby and it winding up to be healthy.

At age 35, I ballooned again, this time significantly — from 240 to 320 in the space of 6 months. Another 45 pounds added by age 37, so that’s 125 pounds in two year. I’ve remained between 345-365 for the last two years, depending on how closely I was following my nutritionist’s recommended 1600 calorie per day diet….which was not all the time.

Which takes me to last year. I went for a physical because I wasn’t feeling well, kept getting sick, had a lot of fatigue, weird sweating where my hair would get totally drenched for no reason. At this point, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, hypothyroism (which has now been modified to Hashimoto’s thyroidis), high cholesterol (although this was present at age 30 when I got the PCOS diagnosis). I went back to my repro-endo, and resolved to make myself stay on Metformin this time. All last year was a series of monthly blood work and attempts to lose weight with an eye toward trying to get pregnant this year. By the end of the year, I was successful in taking off only 20 pounds, and my repro-endo (always with an eye toward fertility and not health), really pushed me to give up on losing weight at that moment and to start taking Clomid. Or else, he said. The words that broke my heart: this may be your last chance.

So, skip forward to January 2006. My ovaries are blown out and they are clear — no blockages. I get cleared to start fertility treatments. My husband undergoes his own embarrassing tests. I think we have an agenda here, but my mind was chewing on serious concerns that I was simply too unhealthy to be considering trying this. That, and I felt it would be a futile effort.

By the way, more than a year on the Metformin with no real changes to anything. Why doesn’t my body respond to it like other people with PCOS?

Then late March, I started experiencing extreme fatigue. And I’m not talking about the kind where you need to take a nap on a Sunday afternoon to gear up for the week ahead (which I’d always considered a nice indulgence, but not a necessity). I’m talking debilitating, life-altering fatigue. It didn’t start out right away to be debilitating — or maybe I just made the usual excuses as I always do relating to my health: I’m still getting over that flu/cold from last month. I just got a promotion at work (though I note a greatly reduced stress and caseload now that I am a managing attorney. My weight is causing it. Whatever.

I let it go on for a full two months before I started to really worry, or admit to myself that my quality life had taken a serious downward turn. You see, despite my weight and my scary appearance, I have always been the “director” type. By that I mean that last year, I worked with two other women to direct 100 volunteers to start a summer camp for inner city kids, and I had enough energy to run this ambitious new project and to film, produce and edit a 30 minute documentary on it by the end of the summer.

In contrast, I had to take a backseat this year. I basically sat in a chair and answered the questions of volunteers, made a few phone calls here and there, and was simply a “presence” in case something major went wrong. Such a major change from the year before, where I was running the whole show 14 hours a day and loving it.

But I am getting ahead of myself. (Is anyone still reading this? I must be narcissitic to think so….yet, I wonder if anyone else has gone through a similar progression….)

Back to May. After two months of this fatigue, I change to a new primary care physician and get a whole workup: blood, urine, thyroid ultrasound, cardiac stress test, liver ultrasound when my enzymes, which had been slightly elevated, were found to have doubled since January. Appointments with a gastroenterologist, and FINALLY….a REAL endocrinologist. Ruled out any serious liver problems (and my levels, surprisingly, dropped back to the slightly elevated level in a space of 3 weeks and no treatment).

Yesterday, I heard a word I’d only heard spoken once before in my life: Cushings. Way back when I was 22 and had started gaining weight so rapidly, I had a boyfriend who worked the graveyard shift at the local hospital. He spent the better part of a non-eventful week of nights pouring over medical books in the library. He excitedly showed me the pages he’d photocopied, which had sketches of a woman with a very rounded face (like mine), striae on her stomach (like mine), abdomenal obesity (like mine) and a pronounced buffalo hump. Although my former boyfriend was just a college student working his way through his music degree by earing some money moonlighting as a hospital security guard, he was the first one to note all of these tell-tale signs.

When I got my diagnosis of PCOS, I remember discounting his amateur diagnosis, and I never thought of it again.

Until yesterday, when my new endo asked me if anyone had ever tested my cortisol or if I’d ever done a 24 hour urine test. I said no, and he started writing out the referral form along with like 15-20 different blood tests. And although we’d started our appointment with him telling me he agreed with my repro-endo’s encouragement to go ahead and try to get pregnant if I can, by the end of the visit, he was telling me not everyone is meant to be a parent, there is always adoption, etc. The only thing that happened during the appointment was that I gave him my basic history of weight gain, described the fatigue, and let him examine my striae, buffalo hump and legs (which were hidden under a long straight skirt). The question about the urine screen and corisol came after this physical exam, during which he was taking lots of notes.

Then the word, which was not spoken directly to me but to his nurse practioner as I was making my two-week appointment in the reception area outside the examining room: “She looks classic Cushings. I’ll be interested to get those results.”

Cushings. Cushings. No– that’s not me. I’m not that weird-shaped, hairy, mannish-looking, round-faced, hump-backed creature my boyfriend had shown me a picture of 16 years earlier. I have PCOS, right? It’s just my fault. I don’t eat right. If I’d just eat better, I wouldn’t be 2.5 times my weight in college. Right?

I quickly came home and did an internet search. Within an hour, I was sitting in front of the computer, reading some bios here and BAWLING, just crying some body-wracking sobs as I looked at the pictures of the people on this board. Here, here (!!!!) is an entire community who has the same, wrenchingly painful picture-proven physical progression that I went through. The same symptoms and signs. Words of encouragement — of….hope. I didn’t feel scared to read about the possibility of a pituitary tumor — last year, I had a brain MRI of the optic nerve because of sudden vision irregularities, headaches and shooting eye pain. The MRI showed nothing, but then again, the image was not that great because I had to go into the lower-resolution open MRI due to my size.

I have no idea whether I have Cushing’s Syndrome or not, but these are my first steps in my journey of finding out. After living my entire adult life with an array of progressive, untreatable, brushed-off symptoms (and years of self-blame for depression, obesity, becoming so unattractive), there was a major “click” as I read this site, and a sense of relief that maybe, just maybe, what I have has a name, I’m not crazy/fat/ugly/lazy, the PCOS diagnosis, which has gotten me nowhere is incorrect, and I might have something TREATABLE.

So, without going so far as to say I hope for a diagnosis, I am hopeful for some definitive answers. If my urine tests are inconclusive (and my doctor only ordered one and no serum cortisol tests), I am going to fly out to L.A. and see Dr. Friedman for a full work up.

And, I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you for posting your stories, which have encouraged me to advocate for myself in a manner and direction, which this time, may be fruitful.

Be well, my new friends,
Kate

p.s. I will post some pictures this week after I scan some of the “after” one….I try to avoid the camera at all costs. I’m sure you understand just what I’m talking about, and for that, I am truly grateful.

 

Erin, Undiagnosed Bio

1 Comment

Hi. My name is Erin and I’m 28 years old. The first time I ever heard of Cushing’s was a couple weeks ago while doing a search for hormonal imbalance. I’ll explain why later. I am currently doing a 24 hour urine cortisol test, and thought that in between peeing in the large container, I’d share what little story I have.ufc

I have always been a normal weight and healthy, well, up until about 5 years ago. I mean, obesity was NEVER a word that had to be used to describe my weight. I’m 5’8″ and lingered around 140 lbs my entire life. I was quite the drinker, too. I started gaining weight when I was about 22 or 23, and started taking Adderol to get the weight down, and it worked like a charm. (I am currently a recovering alcoholic and have been in recovery for over a year now.)

When I started trying to get sober, I noticed little things, but mainly the weight gain. I have always had larger hips and thighs and a smaller waist, so when I began to look 6 months pregnant, I thought it was odd (and embarrasing). I have bruised very easy every since I was a teenager, but in the past few years the bruises come easier and are quite large. My acne will just not quit, and I started sprouting these thick hairs on my face, chest, and abdomen. My face has ballooned out like a pumpkin, and I don’t hardly recognize myself anymore.

In May 2012 I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks. During the pregnancy I started getting these purple stretch marks all over my thighs and hips, and since I had neve been pregnant before, decided this was normal. Before then I was having trouble getting pregnant, but just chalked it up to bad timing. After the miscarriage, I noticed my menstrual cycles were different. They had shortened from 26-27 days to 22 days, and just didn’t seem right. I started seeing my gynecologist every month, but kept getting dismissed because it hadn’t been a full year since the loss, and my hormones were probably still imbalanced. I did get them to test for PCOS, and everything came back normal, including an ultrasound, which just made me seem crazy.  I switched gyns and eventually had a hormonal blood test, which revealed very low estrogen and progesterone, and I was referred to a fertility specialist. Another blood test there revealed my ovaries are not responding very well and not secreating enough of the AMH hormone.

About a month and a half ago I decided to battle the bulge, and joined a gym and changed my diet. After 2 weeks of cardio and strenth training almost every day, I hadn’t lost a pound. Then at week 3, I finally noticed a 2 pound weight loss, but that’s when the knee pain started. For no reason at all, my knees became VERY sore, swollen, and were bruising from the inside of the joint. I saw an orthopedic who couldn’t find any evidence of injury, gave me a cortisone shot in each knee, and sent me on my way. I should also mention that a week before that I had a cortisone injection in my back for a herniated disc that was causing sciatic nerve pain.

A few days after the last set of injections in my knees, I started feeling very ill and run down. I had also just missed a period for the first time in my reproductive history, and after a negative blood pregnancy test, was told my hormones were too low for my period to start on its own. I thought I was feeling under the weather because of the missed period, so that’s when I started looking up hormonal imbalances online. When I came across the word Cushing’s, I couldn’t stop reading about it. I thought, oh my god, these people are me! They look like me! Thinking back over the years, all of these individual symptoms could be explained away due to stress, inactivity, lifestyle change, etc. But collectively, I started to see the bigger picture.

So, I am currently testing with my PCP. I am selfishly hoping that I get a quick diagnosis, or if it isn’t Cushing’s, that they find some other reason for all of these symptoms. But from what I’ve read this is going to be a long process.

Jessica (JessicaAnn), Undiagnosed Bio

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I’ve been struggling with a lot of health issues for a really long time now, and so far I have been diagnosed with multiple different things only to have the next doctor say the previous one was wrong.  None of them have yet to be able to explain why I am physically in pain over stupidly simple things like doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.

I recently got tested for Cushing’s because my current doctor thought that might be it, and I was certain I did as well based on how much it sounded like me.  However, my 24 hour urine test came back normal.  So now I’m back to where I started, with no answers and losing hope that I’ll ever find out what’s wrong with me.

 

I have previously been diagnosed with the following:

ADHD – 2005

Insulin Resistence – 2005 (later told that was incorrect)

Depression – 2005 (though it started long before then)

Migraines – 2010 (they started when I was in high school, though, so roughly 2001)

Hypothyroidism – 2010 (I was laster told my thyroid looked fine, though I’m on Synthroid)

PCOS – 2011

Fibrocystic Breasts – 2012 (No tests were done, and I’m fairly certain this is incorrect)

Vitamin D Deficiency – 2012

Vitamin B-12 Deficiency – 2012 (probably caused by spironalactone since it apparently causes that)

 

Both the PCOS and Fibrocystic Breasts diagnoses were made without the presence of cysts, though my ovaries are enlarged.

 

My symptoms have included:

 

Headaches

Migraines

Irregular Periods

Severe Menstrual Cramps

Severe Acne

Oily Skin

Heavy Periods

Fatigue

Difficulty falling asleep (I average about 3 hours per night)

Difficulty staying asleep

Weight Gain (started when I was doing 30 minutes of cardio + 30 minutes of weights every day plus watched everything I ate.  I still to crossfit several times a week and watch what I eat)

Hair Growth (upper lip, stomach, neck, chin)

Nipple Discharge

Skin discoloration (neck, under arms, under breasts, elbows, inner thighs)

High Blood Pressure

Fast Heart Rate

Constant Phlegm in my throat (has been there for years and never gets better/only gets worse when I get the flu)

Hoarse by the end of the day/night

Deepened Voice

Difficulty Concentrating

Forgetful

Large Pink Stretch Marks on waist

Lack of period (started about a year ago)

Back pain from doing simple things (has progressively gotten worse/included my hips, neck, and left shoulder)

Nosebleeds for seemingly no reason (most often in the bath tub/shower, sometimes just happens while driving, walking, doing nothing that should cause them)

Depression

Loss of appetite (I usually force myself to eat light meals at work just in case I end up hungry at some stupid time like 4:00 PM)

Nausea (literally almost every day)

Diarrhea (usually after eating)

Often Stressed Out

Irritability

Buffalo Hump

Round face (I actually have pictures of me when I weighed less than in previous ones, but my face was horrible round in the ones where I weighed less)

 

More than anything, I care about getting the back pain, migraines, and sleep issues fixed because that’s what affects my life the most.  One thing I noticed with the exercise is I’ve been able to build muscle in my legs and arms, but there’s been no change to my stomach, and I have dropped no weight/inches off of any of my body (since I know muscle will add pounds).  I have been to numerous doctors, including several Endocrinologists, one internest, a rheumatologist, a breast specialist, and several gynocologists to get things fixed.  All of my symptoms have progressively gotten worse over the years, and I’m just worried with the amount of pain I’m end that I’m one day not even going to be able to walk.  I’m at peace that whatever it is could eventually kill me, but I at least want to know why it’s happening before it does.

 

So far the only lab work I’ve gotten that showed anything was my Vitamin D and B-12 levels were low, and my Testosterone was high.  My doctor said this would not cause the back pain, though.  I just don’t understand how I can have all of these issues at 28 years old to constantly be told there’s nothing wrong with me to cause the back pain.  I have had no trauma that would have caused it (like a wreck or something), so I know this isn’t normal.

 

If anyone has any suggestions on any other tests I can do/possible causes, I would be extremely grateful.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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