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Natalie Stokes, Pituitary Bio

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A SINGLE mother suffering from a debilitating rare disease effecting her whole body has been left “disgusted and appalled” after being judged ‘fit to work’.

Natalie Stokes, of Saint Agnes Close in Studley, suffers from Cushing’s disease, a condition where the body produces excess steroid hormones. She had her disability benefits withdrawn eight weeks ago.

Natalie had her allowance withdrawn after an assessment carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in January deemed her ‘compos mentis’ and fit to work – despite both her GP and consultant brain surgeon providing a sick note.

The 33-year-old was diagnosed with Cushing’s last year after countless trips over eight years to see her GP.

She started claiming employment and support allowance (ESA) last January.

She said her condition, which has deteriorated over the years, is “changeable” and suffers fatigue, nausea, insomnia, irritability, memory loss, poor concentration and as a result depression.

Physically, Natalie is tackling life-limiting side affects which include, extreme weight gain, excess hair growth, a rounded ‘moon face’ due to fat deposits, thin skin, boils and severe pains from movement and incontinence.

She said she was “disgusted and appalled” at her benefits being withdrawn.

“Yes I can raise my hand above my head but I am by no means ‘fit for work'”, she said.

In February, she was instructed to visit Redditch Job Centre for an interview but shortly into the meeting an assistant told her there was no point continuing it as Natalie was too unwell to work.

Following the meeting, on the advice of job centre staff Natalie reapplied for benefits with depression but recently received a letter turning her down.

Natalie, who has a five year old son named Charlie, is currently undergoing treatment and doctors believe she has developed a second pituitary gland tumour at the base of the brain after recently having one removed.

Her father Thomas, has Parkinson’s disease and dementia, and despite Natalie’s condition she tries to help mother, Cathie, care for her dad but admits the pair “help look after each other”.

Prior to her condition she worked all her life.

She said: “I was raised with good work ethics and from two weeks after leaving school held down a full time job and even attended evening college to train and become a counsellor.”

“I have ambition and can’t wait to be well enough to work but the fact is at the moment I am not capable.”

She is now considering talking her case to tribunal.

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman said: “The decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough independent assessment, including all available evidence provided from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist. Anyone who disagrees with the outcome of their assessment can appeal.”

From http://www.eveshamjournal.co.uk/news/regional/15232560.Single_mother_suffering_from_a_debilitating_rare_disease_judged__fit_to_work_/

 

Matt, Undiagnosed Bio

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Hello, my name is Matt. I am extremely desperate for answers as I simply do not want to live anymore in this condition. I have been suffering for years with something that I strongly believe was caused by continued use of inhaled corticosteroids (Azmacort asthma inhaler, and Fluticasone nose spray). I used these inhalers for about twenty years. 2 puffs of Azmacort every morning and every night for over 20 years.

From 1996 to 2007, I began to develop several health problems. These included severe neck pain, eye twitching, tremor, heartburn, aching teeth, vertigo attacks, peeling skin from my lips and inside my cheeks, a lower eyelid “cyst” that I had removed, an episode of thrush, depression, daily headaches, insomnia, and low energy.

In 2007, I took my inhalers and threw them out. I was trying to figure out if the inhalers were contributing to my health problems. Within months of discontinuing the use of the inhalers, a few of my symptoms went away, but most of them got worse and I developed more worsening problems- brain fog, crawling skin, constant eye pressure, a feeling of sand in my eyes under my eyelids, constant crying, strange pulling feelings in my eyes, cheeks forehead and scalp, muscle atrophy in my neck, face, and shoulders, withdrawl/hangover feelings, concentration/memory problems, suicidal tendencies.

I always assumed that the problems were caused by the inhalers and figured they would subside with time, and I still think that they may. I have always been optimistic for some reason that I am getting better, but the symptoms have still not gone away. It has been ten years now since I instantly quit the corticosteroids and like I said earlier, I am getting desperate. I have talked to dozens of doctors over the past ten years, and they ALL dismiss the idea that the inhalers caused my problem.

In fact, since my symptoms are all invisible, my MRIs are unremarkable, and my blood work is always in range, most of my doctors I am pretty sure think that I am crazy. Funny thing about that is that I have no reason to make up symptoms that I am suffering with. I have already distanced myself from all of my family and friends. I do not tell any of them how much I suffer, because it is so humiliating when people say that I am depressed, or need rest, or should cut down on stress.

In other words, nobody believes that I am truly sick. I am sure that if I killed myself tomorrow because of the pain, people would say that I was a lost soul, or lonely. I have trouble being around other people because I always feel like I need to cry and decompress. I had to resign from my teaching position because of my insomnia and lack of ability to concentrate. It was the one last thing that I loved. I tried to hang on as long as I could, but I felt that the pressure to be at work and perform well daily was not benefiting my health and probably harming it.

Anyway, here is where I stand right now–


I do seen an endocronologist. I found out years ago that my cortisol levels and most other hormones other than my testosterone are normal (my testosterone level was at 100 for God knows how long). I was shocked when I found that out. I was sure that my cortisol would be through the roof, but here is the thing– I NEVER had any blood tests done while I was taking the corticosteroids. Only years after discontinuing them.

In my opinion, my cortisol levels were elevated (or depressed) while I was on the steroids. I believe that the inhalers poisoned my body. 99% of my symptoms are in and around my mouth, neck, throat, head and eyes (right where the spray was going). I believe that my cortisol levels are normal now because I am no longer taking the inhalers and my body is making the correct amount. What happens, however, to all of the cortisol that was building up in my body if this was indeed happening?

I believe that my symptoms post-inhaler are due to my body trying to get back to normal. But ten years is a long time. I was sure that I would be better by now but I really dont know how long it takes to recover from what I did to my body with those corticosteroids. After all, I used Azmacort shortly after its inception and beyond the time that it was discontinued in the US, when I was ordering it online from the UK. There probably are not many if any people that used that inhaler as diligently and for as long as I did. I have always been thin my whole life, so I cannot say that I ever had a ton of fat on my body that would indicate Cushing’s.

In the past several years though, I have noticed that I am losing mass in my neck, face, and shoulders. My face is becoming more angular. The spot between my shoulders where a camels hump would be is becoming more and more concave. It seems like this is kind of the opposite or reverse of Cushing’s. Could this be because my body is trying to recover and slowly melting away the fat deposits on my face and neck?

Again, I am extremely desperate for answers and help. I look forward to being a part of this forum and eager to find out if anybody else out there has had a similar experience to what I have been going through. I have researched Cushing’s and other diseases for years. One thing I have never been able to find online is how long does it take to recover from Cushing’s. If I did, indeed, have Cushing’s, it would have been building up for nearly 20 years. What kind of recovery would be involved with unknowingly having Cushing’s for that long? I really need to find out if it is possible that I could still be recovering after 10 years off of the corticosteroids. I still have some faith, but that faith is definitely waning.

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April (April), undiagnosed bio (PCOS)

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Originally posted December 28, 2008

 

My name is April…I am 34 years old and recently started having some issues that led my family Dr. to do some bloodwork. My cortisol levels came back very “very high” according to him, with regular female hormones “slightly out of whack.”

I am so condufused at have no idea where to turn. I found this board and in reading the bio’s it was like reading “my story”. I have felt like I am going crazy and no one understands…including my unsupportive husband.

My history…
2 children…premature (they re 15 & 16 now)
2 miscarriages in past 5 years
hemmoraghed 3 times, hospitalized -D&C
Heavy abnormal periods w/severe back pain
Diagnosed with PCOS 2 years ago after trip to emergency room with what i thought was appendicitis
anemia
Underwieght (5’2…100 lbs) but have “spare tire” around mid section
Have very large Lipoma on shoulder blade near neck
Adult onset acne and boils
RLS
Severe shoulder neck pain
Went to family Dr. recently because I had a 9 day crying jag over something trivial, to the point i couldn’t work!
Dr. prescribed Zoloft and Xanax,for depression,which stopped the crying, but i feel like i may be abusing the xanax.
I feel sad and alone. I just want to stay in my house and hide!
I also have always had anxiety.
My blood pressure has always been low, but Doc has always said that’s normal for person my size.
No sex drive.
Don’t like people touching me.
I smoke, like a frieght train.
I CANNOT SLEEP more than three hours! I can take 15 mg of melatonin and 2 mg xanax and still be up after 3 hours sleep.
I only urinate about 3 times a day which is dark and cloudy and funny smelling. (sorry if TMI)
I am always thirsty!
i could go on and on…

I just want to know if I am crazy or if something is really wrong with me. this is affecting my realtinship with my husband and friends.

my insurance company shanges after January 1st , so i will be making an appt with the surgeon to have the lipoma removed.

Should I see an endocronolgist?
when i talked to my Dr. about my bloodwork, I was so overwhelmed, i didn’t ask any of the right questions.
all I remember him saying is that a norml cortisol range would be 200-300, high 500-600, mine 823.

Does this make sense to anyone?
Thanks for listening!

Any advice would be a god send…
April

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Julie B, Adrenal Bio

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adrenal-medulla
Hello, 47 year old female with two adrenal adenomas. Gaining weight like crazy, feeling tired, can not sleep, pitting edema in legs, bruise easily, pain in side, back, joints….and many other things.
Frustrated….had two 1mg dex suppression test that both came back high levels of cortisol. Had two 24 hour urinary cortisol that came back fine. Now on my 3rd doctor as I keep getting refered out.

Having a 2 mg dex suppression test Monday along with saliva test which I have now read that with adrenal adenoma saliva test may come back negative.

Everything in my life is changing and I am tired of feeling bad along with how long the process is to get a diagnosis.

Any support and information would be greatly appreciated.

 

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Candy (Candybar11), Pituitary Bio

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pituitary-surgery

 

I was diagnosed with Cushing’s in 1997.

I had never heard of it before my doctor said he thought I might have Cushing’s. I went right to the library and read about the disease, they literally could have used a picture of me to display the physical characteristics.

After some testing I went to the NIH to verify I had a pituitary tumor. After it was confirmed I was scheduled for surgery. My surgery was successful to a point. They said a small part of my tumor could not be removed. My recovery went fairly well!

I began to lose weight and a lot of my symptoms went away. However it has been a long road. I still have some symptoms that never went away, I still sweat a lot, body aches and pains (now I have RA, fibromyalgia) memory not great, never lost all my weight either. My labs all say most of the time I am in normal range but I do not feel cured! But new doctor says numbers are fine you are fine.

I have been disabled since 1993, I had a lot of health issues that later were all related to Cushing’s. This disease in my opinion is never cured!

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Terri (Terri), Adrenal Bio

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adrenal-location

 

I started having issues in my 30’s. I noticed my skin getting splotchy and my periods became horribly painful and irregular. I had migraines and started gaining weight. I went to my doctor who said I was just getting older (again 30ish). The weight kept creeping on, the periods got worse. Again I asked my doctor , again it’s part of aging. This went on for years. I finally changed doctors and ended up with a hysterectomy, the doctor assured me this would fix things. It didn’t.

A year after the hysterectomy I get my first ambulance ride from my doctors office to the ER. They thought it was my appendix . The ER found nothing so they sent me home. I have sever nausea I , body shaking chills and sever side pains. They sent me to a gastroenterologist who ran tons of test and found nothing. BUT as they were reviewing my latest test results by phone the mentioned that my adrenal cyst hadn’t grown any. I said what adrenal cyst? They said throne that was in the ER report. This had never been disclosed to me. They referred me to a urologist? I skipped the urologist and looked for a endocrinologist. My symptoms had multiplied in this time. I now had a fuzzy face, fuzzy vision, more weight and stomach tenderness to the point it hurt to wear some clothes.

I saw my endocrinologist and he ran a ton of test and came back with Cushings. I just finished my second MRI, this time they are looking for a pituitary tumor. I am waiting for results to see if I have the pituitary issue as well as the adrenal gland cyst. Apparently my adrenal cyst was large enough to cause cancer concerns , but luckily doesn’t act like cancer. Happy that! I am now in my 40’s and it has taken eight years to get a diagnosis or someone to take me seriously! So don’t take NO for an answer!

 

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Jane (Jane), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed3

 

Hi. I am retired RN in Oklahoma.

I have undifferentiated connective tissue disease, chronic kidney disease and peripheral nerve disease in arms and legs.

I had an autoimmune disease in 1972 called Guillian Barre that left me with residual neuropathy.

Recently my PCP noticed I had hyperpigmentation and thought it might be Cushing’s. My ACTH was in the upper 70s, serum cortisol normal. My weight has been out of control for years.

I did 24 hour urine with normal result. My PCP ordered MRI and showed suspicion for 6 mm adenoma left side of pituitary. Saw endo who ordered 1 mg Dex test. To see neurosurgeon in Dec.

Have also had some severe headaches and intermittent nasea and vomiting (both unusual for me). Also unreasonable emotional outbursts totally out of character for me. If I have Cushings it must be cyclic or subclinical. I haven’t done my Dex test yet because I just don’t know if I should do it when I feel really bad or really good. I’ve felt like my life has been a roller coaster of highs and lows for over a year now.

My endo said if my Dex test is positive she would need to send me to Mayo because she has never dealt with this and there is no one in Oklahoma she can send me to. I have read many bios on this site. It’s crazy how long it takes for people to get diagnosed. Literature says timely diagnosis is so important in relationship to good outcomes. I don’t have the Cushings striae. I do have really bad swelling and pain, fatigue. I’ve been on a daily diuretic for almost 30 years. If I miss it my face and hands swell up and one eye gets red and tears. I feel like my problems began after I had my last child 30 years ago.

Sending good thoughts to all of you out there and what you have and are currently going through. There are lots of heroes here, and even if my problems turn out to be something else, this website has been a life savior. Thanks so much for being there.

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