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In Memory: Malia Kenney ~ January 4, 2017

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in-memoryMalia died January 4, 2017 at the age of 40.

Her sister wrote on Facebook:

My beautiful sister Malia Kenney passed away this morning. She has been dealing with Cushings Disease for the past 18 yrs or so.

She has been in the hospital and physical rehab since November with 2 different types on Pneumonia’s. Her poor heart just couldn’t take it anymore.

She was such a beautiful person inside and out and I will miss her so much.

I LOVE YOU BIA
Malia has been a member of the Cushing’s Help boards since August 3, 2004.  Her profile is here:  Cushing’s Help boards
malia-kenney

Jody (jodiann), Adrenal Bio

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Originally posted January 6, 2008

My mother had Cushing’s Syndrome with pheochromocytomas and had a bilateral adrenalectomy in 1968, but developed pneumonia post surgery and died after 3 months in intensive care.

I have thought that I was starting to develop symptoms and was even see in her endo Dr. for years, but I was always told I was being paranoid. Then in the past ten years I have gotten diabetes, the buffalo hump, put on 100 pounds, sore joints, hypertension, low potassium, high cholesterol etc.

I finally got a CT scan due to shortness of breath, and asthma, and they found bilateral multinodular adrenal hyperplasia.

If it’s not Cushing’s Syndrome, then is there something else adrenal wise it could be? It sure seems like Cushing’s to me.

Update December 30, 2007

I was diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome approx. 3 years ago, after gaining over 100#s, developing diabetes, high blood pressure, fatigue,muscle weakness, moon face,buffalo hump,many tests later,it was discovered that I had bliateral multinodular adrenal hyperplasia,and got the diagnoses finally,,,

my mom died from complications from a bilateral adrenalectomy in 1978,she had Cushing’s syndrome with pheochromocytomas,,so I watched her symptoms develope, and had felt sure that I was getting the same things, and finally it was confirmed,just a little difference in the diagnosis,,

however,I am having a terrible time getting any understandin, sympathy, or belief, from my oldest daughter and her husband. They believe,and tell me often, that all I need to do is diet,and exercise,and I would lose this weight,and look like I used to,,it is so depressing,frustrating,and hurtful,,,

the depression you get with the disease just adds to make me feel worse,,I’m taking an antodepressant, but they brought this up again at Christmas,due to me not wanting them to invite people that I hadn’t seen since before the big wt. gain,and appearance changes,,,I ended up crying most of the afternoon,,and it makes me feel like such a baby,,,,

I’m usually pretty good about not needing any body but myself for support,,but this just really has hurt me. I’m thinking of sending them pictures of patients with the disease that I’ve gotten on the internet,,although the son in law said he had done his own research and found that diet and exercise apparently was all that we needed to do,,,don’t know where he found that info from though,,,

Update January 6, 2008

CUSHING’S SYNDROME

I was finally diagnosed in approx. 2004,after I had developed diabetes,htn.,shortness of breath, IBS, high cholestero,major muscle aches,moon face, buffalo hump,and my hands and feet had actually gone up one ring,and shoe size and also had on-going depression, mood swings, anger issues,I could watch myself gain weight.

I joined curves,went every night after work, and still gained weight,,even after exercise for those three months I never did seem to regain any muscle strength or ability,,I still had trouble getting up from chairs,or walking any distance, unless I was pushing a grocery cart, or a stroller,,,I had trouble even carrying my groceries in from the car,i would be so out of breath,,I had to get a disabled parking sticker so I could get into work,,,as I was so out of breath if I parked in the lot across the street it would take me three stops for breath each day to make it in,,,and tired, I was so tired,,my favorite past time was sleeping,,I could sleep any time, and still be tired.

My mom had died from complications from a bilateral adrenalectomy due to Cushing’s Syndrome in 1978, and I had watched all of the changes she and her body had gone through,and felt sure that I had developed the same things, but I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me,,,until a unrelated chain of events lead to me getting a U/S of my chest, and a sugested follow up,which I got on a larger scale which showed something wrong with my adrenal glands, then an MRI of them revealed bilateral multinodular adrenal hyperplasia,,,and finally I got hooked up with a good endocrinologist,,am now getting better follow-up of my diabetes and am on ketaconazole to suppress the cortisol production,,which has helped somewhat,and is stopping the excess cortisol,and no more weight gain,,,but hasn’t gotten rid of any of the symptoms either.

There are a lot of times that I look in the mirror and wonder where I am, or where the real me went to,,I don’t look like the me that I used to be at all,I have gained over 100lbs.in the past 13 years,,,and the fight against the depression, the muscle aches and pain, and fatigue every day or so exhausting,,my Doctor doesn’t want me to get the adrenalectomy due to the loss of all steroids,and how difficult it is to regulate them after the surgery. He also told me that you lose you fight or flight response because you don’t have any natural adrenaline,so your reaction time is not very good,,,,,and I have three grandkids that I drive iwth and take places,and I am a nurse and have to be able to react fast,,,,I also feel that he doesn’t think that I am a good candidate for surgery.

So there it is,,and here am I,,,trying to deal with everyday life, and the lack of any understading or sympathy from some of my family,as they feel that I have gained this weight on my own, and if I just ” took better care of myself,and got some exercise” I would feel and look better,,,,,,,as if any one would do this to themselves,,,,,,:>( ,,,,,,,,,,oh well,you guys understand at least,,,,,,thanks for listening

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Lisa (Lisa), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed4

 

44 yo female
have been overweight for a while
always fatigue, muscle aches, pain/joint all I related to weight
only history is hypothyroid been on synthroid since 15ish
recently had UTI that was resistant to lots of abx then developed a bronchitis to pneumonia
then the UTI came back was on prednisone at start of pneumonia for 14 days then developed pain in left side and arm cardiac negative and high blood pressure out of blue
been worked up for carcinoid syndrome – neg
VMA and metanephrine – Neg
Lupus – neg
they have no idea why bp so high all of sudden i have palp with it
always notice muscle weakness I never have any strength
extremities tingle at times
but face has had horrible red butterfly redness dr doesn’t like
now wants me to be worked for cushing going to do 24 urine tomorrow
but i have had ct scans of abd and chest and one ct angio of chest showed a tiny tiny adenoma on left adrenal gland the radiologist said so small that they may not even comment on it
i do have the fat in neck/ shoulder/back
i just feel off not myself almost shaky inside i have no desire to do any activity although i know i need to

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In Memory of Malia Kenney ~ January 4, 2017

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in-memoryMalia died January 4, 2017 at the age of 40.

Her sister wrote on Facebook:

My beautiful sister Malia Kenney passed away this morning. She has been dealing with Cushings Disease for the past 18 yrs or so.

She has been in the hospital and physical rehab since November with 2 different types on Pneumonia’s. Her poor heart just couldn’t take it anymore.

She was such a beautiful person inside and out and I will miss her so much.

I LOVE YOU BIA
Malia has been a member of the Cushing’s Help boards since August 3, 2004.  Her profile is here:  Cushing’s Help boards
malia-kenney

Vicki (Pugmom), Steroid-Induced Cushing’s

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steroids

 

I am a recent transplant to San Diego and I am looking for a Cushings support group. I acquired adrenal insufficiency and Cushings about 3 years ago. I was given large amounts of steroids for numerous sinus infections, pneumonia, and bronchitis. I am 61.

I am trying to find an on-line or actual support group for Cushings folks or adrenal insufficiency. The last 3 years have been full of illness, numerous hospital stays, and a lonely road. I am tired of living alone with this health issue and would be happy to share my story with a group or others who have walked in similar shoes.

I take 25mg of hydrocortisone daily to maintain my current health status. I will check the message board for others like me and hopefully I can connect either in person or on-line with a group, I find that living with this health issue to be frustrating and at times depressing. I am trying to overcome being the disease rather than just a person who has Cushings. At times I just feel crummy for no other reason than my system is out of whack. I hope that I can find a group to be a part of and to hear their issues and offer any help I can from my experience. I am in the process of getting a medical team of doctors and see an endocrinologist in December.

This disease has had me on a roller coaster for 3 years. I don’t plan a lot of things ahead of the event since I never know how I will feel the next day. I am hoping there is someone else who has dealth with Cushings and what medications they are taking to make the disease manageable.
Thank you for reading this and offering any advice on locating a group with like health issues.

Vicki added a second version of her bio:

I have been living with adrenal insufficiency with a diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome. I was diagnosed in 2012 and was told that I received this condition from having been given large amounts of prednisone for pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus infections. I have no issues with my pituitary gland but I still demonstrate the same symptoms as someone with an official diagnosis of Cushing’s and live with taking steroids. I have the buffalo hump, the sweats, feel tired all the time, problems sleeping, moon face and weight gain as well as other symptoms. I have just moved to San Diego from Houston to be closer to our family. I am trying to find a group with the same type diagnosis or a group that I can be involved with to talk with. I realize that this condition is very rare and I am looking to be a part of a group where I can discuss the issues related with living with the diagnosis. I am very glad to have found this website where I am hopeful that there are others like me who also are looking for a group to discuss their issues.

It all started with a fainting episode in 2011. I broke my foot when I fell and saw a doctor the next day. I had been feeling so tired and sweating so much as well as having had the hump come up on my back a few years prior, which my doctor in Indiana didn’t think was anything but a dowager’s hump that could have been genetic.

I then became ill in 2012 with pneumonia and was hospitalized several times due to relapses of pneumonia and uti’s that put me in the hospital. I was having so much pneumonia and bronchitis on top of this other issues and was not getting any diagnosis other than adrenal insufficiency. in 2014 I had been hospitalized every month with one infection or another. My husband and I finally determined we were going to relocate to Houston, TX to see the doctors there. I was already on 40mg of hydrocortisone daily and still felt bad. I was almost gone on two different visits to the ER in Indiana and found myself on the floor unable to get up on one instance. I was on the floor unable to pull myself up for 7 hours in the dead of winter until my husband came home. I had renal failure and was not really expected to make it but I did. After a winter of these problems we decided that cutting off the hump on my back, as discussed by one doctor, was not the issue and we made plans to relocate to Houston in 2014.

I had a great team of doctors there and was diagnoised with Congestive Heart Failure, glaucoma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, GERD, fibromyalgia, connective tissue disease, osteoparsis, adrenal insufficiency, and cushing’s syndrome.

I was in the hosptial with one infection or another for 1.5 years due to pneumonia that was caused by aspiration into my lungs. I had surgery, Heiller Myotomy in July 2015 and from that point the pneumonia has stopped. Thank God.

Since that time, we relocated to California to be nearer to our daughter and her husband and I have not had to deal with the pneumonia but till deal with the adrenal insufficiency and the Cushing’s syndrome.

Maybe someone has been though some of these same issues and would like to talk about what they are experiencing. I am willing to share my experiences also.

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Kelsey G (kelcann44), Undiagnosed Bio

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Hi there! I am a 24 year old female from New Zealand. I am curently awaiting my last test to prove 100% if I have cyclical cushing syndrome or not.

I went from crazy happy boucing sport ,dance and hunting crazy tom boy to at age 12 have 8months solid of tonsitis once i got them out i never recoverd propley and turns out i had galandular fever which effected me really badly they belive it is where my chronic fatuige comes from and other things.

From 2008 to may 2011 i was living your normal teenage dream making up for being so sick in highschool i could makeup for that and build some.special groups of friends amd plan partys and holidays….untill may 2011, I was standing behind the counter at work and there was a niggle at my side going down my legs and that soon turned into full blown cramping that had me colapse amd feeling like i was being kicked woth boots. They rushed me to hospital and with pain medication it became a very sharp.niggly pain and with pain came vommiting ( i am not also diagnosed woth cyclical vommoiting syndrome
After a week they xrayed my side and said i was very constipated but they tried and tried to clear it amd they couldmt…..this episode lasted 8 weeks and i tend to have them every 6months of so ranging from 8weeks to 16weeks eventually i have been picked up by an endicrine professor who has done some tests with abnormal results the last one being they 30day salivitoryswab test

I next have the urinary test but i canot have that untill im out of pain and having bowel motions ( this had been week 5) just wondering if anyone else has had bowel troubles with theirs. The endicrine man is shocked that i have been missed for soo long when i have 99% of side effects ( i mever knew i just thought i was gettimg fatter and my chubby cheeks had decided to fatten my whole face and my old size 16 pants and 16 top. Has now turned into 16pants and size 24 top!

I wish i had a answer because the life i am living is killing me i am a hollow shell of the person i was i have no life dreams or ambitions its one day at a time or getting sick again will ruin it (and i beyond love traveling ended up in ireland hospitala and laid up 2weeks bedrest for sinus infection and pnemona and a close to bursting drum…i camt plan holidays now as i cant save the money my bugets blow away when im out of work for 16weeks !

Luckily my mum.andndad are there for me but i see how me being so ill is breaking their hearts and puting them under so much stress along with my brothers.and my neices and nephews . My big boy 4 year old nephew breaks down everytime he sees me in hospital and the needles in the hand must.hurt me and that the hospitals turned aunty telsey into a quiet ghost who dosnt love me and play with me….smashes my heart into a million peices hearing that but it is true and when im good im.rediculous i party like a rockstar and bugger the health because im done with living the shadow ghost of.me!! 💖

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Lisa B (Lisa/FNP2B2017), Adrenal Bio

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adrenal_glands

 

Hello,

Where do I start? I have had Cushing symptoms since the late 1990″s. I was tested for cushings and was told that I did not have it.

Then in 2007 I was diagnosed with a tumor in my adrenal gland, mind you I still had symptoms off and on since the 90’s. I went to every endocrine in the Fredericksburg area and was on the OR table to have my adrenal gland removed when the Endocrine said that Cushings was not completely ruled in as what was going on with me, despite 3 24 hour urines showing elevated cortisol levels.

Then I went to this doctor then that doctor…….still saying they couldn’t confirm my diagnosis. In October 2007 I was admitted to the hospital with a pneumonia and did an MRI of my head (again) because I was having severe headaches which showed a lesion of some kind.

After 6 weeks of IV antibiotics and a repeat MRI I decided that I should go see a neurosurgeon. As soon as I walked into his office and never saying a word with medical records in my hand he said “Have you ever been worked up for something called Cushing Syndrome? I replied yes and he said you are very sick and need to have it taken care of and sent me to Georgetown Hospital in Washington DC….where I saw a surgeon and had my right adrenal gland removed 12/29/2008.

I have been pretty healthy until about 18 months my primary doctor was concerned about my heart rate being so high and my brother had just had a quad bypass surgery and sent me to the cardiologist. My heart rate has never been lower than 100 since I can’t remember…..and back in March 2014 I started having weakness going up the stairs, then in September my hips and back started hurting and I was having problems falling asleep and staying asleep.

My HbgA1c was 13.7 and I could not figure out why my blood sugars were spiking despite being on a diet and insulin. My cortisol level was normal in October. I started a really strict diet and not cheating the week of Christmas…..yes I know crazy…..I was only eating veggies, protein and 2 fruit servings a day…to detox my body….I gained 6 pounds.

When January came and I had to see my cardiologist for a follow up my heart rate was 128 and I i had gained 17 pounds in four weeks and guess where it all was…..my abdomen…..I felt like my Cushings had been causing havoc on my body. I was noticing the thin skin and bruises that wouldn’t heel. But I was thinking this can’t be returning until my cardiologist ordered that dreaded 24 hour urine and my levels were 98….2 times the normal….

I just did a repeat last week and had a MRI of my abdomen which the urine was guess what positive for elevated cortisol and the real shocker came today when my doctor called and said my MRI showed both adrenals….but how can that be I had the right one removed in 2008 that had a 4cm tumor in it??? My doctor is wondering if there was residual tissue left behind and what seems to be an adrenal is really a tumor??? Has anyone experienced a re-growth or Cushings for a second time….

My doctor is trying to get me into Georgetown asap because obviously the beast has returned.

Thank-you for your support and understandings in advance!!!!!

Lisa

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Sarah’s 14-year-old Son

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Fourteen-year-old son, who increasingly exhibits more and more signs of Cushings:

has had frequent illnesses: viruses, strep, pneumonia (two times) , & mono  x’s 6+ years

has had progressively worsening difficulty with learning “fuzzy thinking” and huge memory deficits x’s 4+ years

has had progressively worsening difficulty with emotional control x’s 4+ years

has had progressively increased fatigue  x’s 4+ years

has had progressively increasing central weight gain x’s 4 years

has had puffy eyes x’s 4 years

has had progressively slowed healing of insect bites and wounds on skin x’s 4+ years

has had easily bruised skin and acne x’s 4+ years

has had progressively worsening feelings of depression x’s 3+ years

has had progressively worsening feelings of anxiety with daily activities of life x’s 3+ years

has had stretch marks that faded from purple to flesh colored for 2+ years

has precocious puberty

has advanced bone age

has high testosterone levels

has been labeled as pre-diabetic

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Sue, Adrenal Bio

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A Golden Oldie

Hello again.

I haven’t visited this site for a long time. Two years ago a beautiful girl from the west coast of Florida found me on here. I thank God for her .Although we have never met, she is like a sister to me. We laugh and cry together every day. I plan on visiting her this month. I have had Cushings for approximatly fifteen years. I diagnosed myself with the help of a nurse friend of mine and a book.

I think my predominant emotion is anger. I know it is a rare disease, but good grief even some of the endos I have seen must have fallen alseep in class that day!! I’ve been through “you have the fat gene” to E.R. physicians thinking I am a pain pill addict. I watch my wieght…go up!! lol and I am in pain evry day. I have severe osteoporosis, frequent PID, walking pnuemonia,chronic bronchitis,mercer staff, hair growth, you name it.

Irritabvle bowek syndrome and my vision had deteriorated rapidly. I am 47 years this July and the psychological effects of Cushings have been the worst. You can put a bandade on woulnds that won’t heal, but there isn’t a pill that can take away all the depression and anxiety or mood swings. There isn’t enough Red Bull to not fall asleep after being up over 72 hours and finally there isn’t a doctor I really trust anymore.

I am headed to the National Instsitute of Health this month to undergo tests. I will be thier guinea pig for a week. I just had my hearing for Sociual Security Disability and that was hell. Life in America is so much easier when you have insurance. I hope that the NIH will recommend the surgery I need to get well again. I have a left adrenal tumor that is growing.

I am a Pastor and I pray every day and night to be healed. So far no luck!! lol Jesus will guide my surgeons hand..won’t he?

Sue was interviewed in the Cushings Help Radio Show on July 27 at 5:00 PM eastern.

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Adrienne, Steroid-Induced Bio

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Another Golden Oldie.  The last update Adrienne submitted was October 7, 2005.

~~

I recently wrote this and thought it is pretty good for a bio as it explains the diffrent types of diagnoses and problems I have, and not just Cushing’s. I can get very technical in my writing but this is not. Somehow, I find enough brain power to write; and since it’s been so long since I was first diagnosed with Cushing’s, I do know a lot of meds, etc. And kidneys. Ha. Always happy to help see email at bottom. Thank you MaryO!

I. In the Beginning

I’ve fought against this for so long that now, at the precipice of acceptance, I am reluctant even to write the words that are playing havoc with my mind. Three words, or one if you prefer the modern version- well, in a minute. I can’t say them yet.

Asthma before-after

Asthma before-after (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the past eleven years I have been dealing with the mental effects of my illness. The illness and mental manifestations began as soon as I ingested my first corticosteroid pill while living in Indiana in 1994. Given to me for severe ‘adult onset asthma’ the steroids were the result of many emergency room visits, failed ‘breathing treatments’ for said asthma, and most probably the doctor’s unwillingness to be ‘bothered’ with such a common ailment as asthma and as such not inclined to research my symptoms further. I had never had any signs or symptoms of asthma in my 22 years of active living. I loved hiking, tennis, volleyball, basketball, you name it, I most probably did it at least once.

During this time of breathlessness and pain from breaking two ribs while violently coughing, I became severely depressed. I didn’t recognize it at the time, at least not until the asthmatic symptoms receded (due to the steroids or simply time, I do not know). I had been working three jobs for the holidays, one more than usual. I was a typical workaholic in low-paying dead-end jobs as was fitting my age and lack of degreed education. I quit all three jobs, hoping to move out of state to stay with my father for a while. I wanted a change, I was still on the steroids, was still sick and growing increasingly scared. I didn’t want to move back home to my mother in California: I felt she had had enough of me and deserved a break.

With my truck packed and my three jobs no longer a worry, I was all set to leave. I was looking forward to getting to know my father better. But the night before I was to leave, my stepmother called and said it just wasn’t a good time to come stay with them. My father had broken his ankle and was undergoing extensive surgery and therapy; but all I wanted was to be with him. I was not just discouraged from visiting, but was told in no uncertain terms that I was not welcome ‘at this time.’ I was devastated.

I moved in with a friend and I just lost it. I stayed for days on end in my bedroom, my only companion my cat, Fantine. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was writing feverishly on my old Brother word processor. I wrote the most horrible things- stupid stories, neurotic thoughts and poems. There was no internet for me at the time; no way to research information on my symptoms and medications but for the public library, which I didn’t even consider visiting as it involved leaving my bedroom. I even answered some personals and went out on two dates- something I would never normally have done. What a disaster! So much for going out… I became even more solitary.

It’s important here to note that I was once considered quite stable. Unlucky in love and a poor judge of men in general, still, I was happy on a day-to-day basis. I smiled at everyone, I laughed– I mean really laughed– regularly. I was considered ‘bubbly’ if not downright ‘giggly.’ In fact, ‘Giggles’ was my nickname! I had nearly forgotten that. I always saw the positives in any given situation, I never was depressed or sad. Well, almost never. I really enjoyed living; I got up each day with a can-do attitude. I cheered up those around me and was the optimistic one in my family as well as among my friends.

Those three words… nope. Forget it. I’m not even close to being able to write them here. Not yet.

Back to Indiana, where each day seemed bleaker and more hopeless than the one before. I broke out in hives on my face, upper arms, neck and chest. The hives stayed for eight years. Each day I tried to go without my steroid pill; and each day I went a little bit crazier. A little bit more depressed. A great yawning chasm seemed to exist between me and the rest of the population. My friends were worried about me, but not really worried enough to intervene as they didn’t really care about me. All they could see was that I was no fun anymore. Pity.

I stopped going to nightclubs which I once enjoyed. I lived on macaroni and cheese and soup from a can, barely eating enough to survive and always when my roommates were out of the house. I began to take more steroids to combat the hives, as were prescribed by doctors, never knowing that they were slowly killing me. The depression was so severe that if my roommates were in the house, I would urinate into a cup and keep it in my closet to dump out once they left. And at the time, it didn’t really seem crazy to me!

My image of myself really took a nosedive; my hives were hideous. I had always been complimented on my flawless complexion. I tried everything the doctors gave me, never thinking that the cure was so much worse than the symptoms. I was suddenly gaining weight, yet I honestly was eating less than I had before these symptoms began. I just figured that since I was no longer exercising the weight gain was to be expected. My hair had always been wavy and full of bounce, but it started to get curly- really curly. In the span of two months, I no longer recognized myself in the mirror. I remember removing the mirror from my room and never bothering to approach the one in the bathroom.

I eventually took a job with a do-it-yourself warehouse as a head cashier. I had to pay for the new truck I had and my roommates were the most fiscally irresponsible people I have ever known, so I had to earn a living. Unfortunately, I was too far behind to ever get ahead and knew that I needed to go home to my mother because I was just getting sicker. I had no energy, I slept whenever I wasn’t at work. I was having trouble concentrating, had problems with coworkers as I was a bit- how shall I say- ‘pissy.’ Conversely, I would break into tears for no reason. But the day I was to drive back to California, my truck was repossessed. I booked a flight, packaged up my boxes for cargo shipment, and was gone within a week.

What followed were two years of emergency room visits for ailments I had no previous experience with. I was gaining weight still, I had hives, headaches and such a deep sadness I didn’t know what to do, where to turn. So, I just continued on the path of work. Work had always seen me through the day; work took up the hours, made me feel needed and like a responsible citizen. Through it all, I continued to take the steroids, eventually upping the dosage according to how I felt each day.

The better jobs I landed, the better medical insurance and more willing I was to submit to seeing specialists. I had been misdiagnosed as having SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus); FMS (Fibromyalgia Myofacial Pain Syndrome); and being just plain old crazy. My symptoms were starting to range quite literally in the dozens, and the list only grew as the years passed. (I was going to post it but chickened out- it’s mind-boggling, even to me).

Back to those three words. Nope, still can’t say them. Maybe tomorrow, when I shall continue my self-indulgent pity party. No, it isn’t even that: I’m trying to get to the heart of the matter but I’m taking the scenic route

II. Cute Professors and Straight Jackets

So, how about those three little words- am I any closer to disclosing them today? Maybe a little; I’ve thought of nothing else really. But for now, where was I?

I re-enrolled in college. A poor high school student, I excelled in college and enjoyed it immensely; especially the literature courses. There was this one professor too… ah never mind; this isn’t about him [giggles]. So, as of 1996 I was taking fifteen semester units of college coursework, working at least forty hours a week, and still trying to figure out what was wrong with my body. Then, the humdinger of all symptoms began worming its way insidiously into my life- the dreaded ‘uncharacteristic rage’.

It started out as simply ‘flying off the handle’ at the little annoyances in life but was so uncharacteristic of my personality that my family noticed. In fact, I was fired from a job due to this anger of mine. Sure, it wasn’t something that was said but I stayed on, daring them to fire me when I knew my position was not working out. I wasn’t working out. I saw a doctor, not a shrink mind you, just a normal primary care physician. He prescribed an anti-depressant, and even though I no longer felt crushingly depressed but angry he said it would help. And the medication did help; I was grateful for it because I hadn’t known such an angry existence since my marriage, and it scared me.

Who was I? What is happening to me? I didn’t have the answers, but I refused to give up looking for them. So, I continued my search for an accurate diagnosis by seeing all manner of specialists, and still no one knew what was wrong with me. The tests were getting too invasive and painful to be so well tolerated; I was losing hope. In fact, I think I gave up just a bit at this time; pushed it all away to a dark corner where I couldn’t see it staring me in the face.

Time passed in much the same way until the year 2000. I was firmly ensconced in a position of great authority (well not really- I was a high level secretary) at an ivy league college (yes, really). I loved this job! I finally had a position with very low stress, wonderful coworkers and a great boss. I had the perks that most people wished they had (free tea and goodies every afternoon, retreats to fabulous places, freedom to come and go as I pleased, all the time off I needed for appointments, and a helluva benefit package from day one). I ADORED the professors I worked with on a daily basis. The intelligence and wit of the staff, faculty and students was refreshing and really allowed me to be myself. I even got opportunities to edit books from the professors, something I considered to be extremely fun. And the money was the same amount I was getting practically running my former city’s IT department (my manager had a problem showing up to work and the ‘sys admin’s’ weren’t too brilliant on the day-to-day operations of the department, as you can imagine).

However happy at work I was, I continued to gain more weight. I was a little bit horrified and determined to exercise- and so I did. Rather, I tried. Everything. And nothing worked. Not only did I not lose weight when I should have, I was again out of breath. I had to use the elevators on campus, which was terribly embarrassing as most people on campus were young, fit kids (not to mention professors ) and I couldn’t even make a delivery to a symposium without frequent stops to catch my breath. By this time, I had a nurse who was frantically testing me for any and all ailments she could think of; she cared but still, nothing clicked. I was on about 15mgs of Prednisone then. Prednisone is the corticosteroid I was given; the one that still unbeknownst to me was killing me. Slowly.

Bet ya didn’t know I was half dead. Okay so it only thought it was going to kill me. Personalization of inanimate objects hmmm [scratches her head] uh-oh call in the cuties with the straight jackets if you must, but this is how I deal.

I’m really getting closer to uttering those three words… I really am.

III. He Didn’t MEAN to Forget Me

Now I want to shout the three words from a mountain top; I am tired of skipping around and through them. But I must bring this to the current day before I can do that, or those three words simply won’t mean anything.

My health came to a crises point, as such things eventually will, just four months into my wonderful job with cute professors and tantalizing bennies. For two months I had been in and out of emergency rooms, even going so far as to switch health insurance plans to try to get some decent care. It was said I had pyelonephritis, just a fancy word for a kidney infection. My kidney hurt so much, but I was used to such agonizing pain and continued to work while taking all the antibiotics I was given faithfully.

Soon the nausea, fevers and other signs of severe infection caught up with me and I went to the emergency room again, this time receiving an injection of a new, very strong antibiotic. The wanted to admit me but I refused. It wasn’t until the following week, about two months into the infection, that I allowed myself to be admitted. I knew it wouldn’t be fun and the tests were bound to be extensive because I only have one kidney. Yes, I had a congenital birth defect of extra tissue growth in my right ureter, the tube that drains to the bladder. I suffered through the pain of a diseased right kidney until, pregnant and in increasing pain at the age of sixteen, I was properly diagnosed and scheduled for surgery- but only three months after my daughter was born. That was fifteen years ago.

Nuclear imaging tests proved to be inconclusive, and no one knew what was causing such pain and infection in my remaining left kidney. A specialist was brought in from another hospital to assist the puzzled internists treating me. In the meantime, I was undergoing serious personality changes. I was angry, often belligerent and on so many medications for pain that I figured I just wasn’t myself. I was eventually given morphine, but it scared me because it didn’t work. Nothing would stop the pain.

I felt like I had ants crawling all over my skin; my thoughts were seriously disjointed, more so than would be expected with the medications. My family was scared of me, and for me. My doctor said there was nothing wrong with me, I was given every test in their charts and my kidney was fine- it was just a bad infection. But the medical history of my past was impossible for him to grasp, and he refused to consider that anything other than depression, weight gain and a kidney infection were present. He was only angering me to the point of boiling rage, so I completely ignored him as my mother fought for me. Apathy was my middle name, as I retreated to my own internal hell.

I hadn’t slept for than four days when my neighbor decided to play with my mind. At least, that’s what I thought at the time. Suffice it to say that after the Urologist specialist told me he couldn’t find anything seriously wrong with my kidney (but that he was concerned about my overall health), my mother bundled me up and despite my protests had me discharged. I wanted to stay and fight with the gang-banging girl next door. She woke me up from my first sound sleep in over four days! I was ready to kill her.

What had occurred while I was in the hospital was later revealed to me as an adrenal crises. In addition to that, I had a psychosis brought on by the adrenal crises, and a severe allergic reaction to the anti-nauseants used to keep me from damaging my kidney by throwing up so violently. It was also thought that my immune system was very weak from the years of taking corticosteroids (did you know they are used to shut down the immune system in transplant patients to prevent rejection?) At the time, I was truly as clueless as everyone else.

I went back to work for three days and it was obvious to everyone I wouldn’t be able to work until a proper diagnoses was found. I was exhausted; I had zero energy. My head was so fuzzy it felt like I was underwater, trying to do my job which was normally easy, yet suddenly seemed impossible. I couldn’t remember names, details, phone numbers even. I remember picking up the phone to call home and not knowing what the number was. They put me on temporary disability. Unbeknownst to me, I had the primo of disability plans and was to all concerned considered a professor, even though I was only a secretary! I was really too out of it to notice at the time how very lucky I was to have worked for such a generous establishment.

I continued to seek answers. I wasn’t given much choice in the matter because in order to continue to receive my benefits I had to be labeled disabled every two weeks. Oh the mountains of red tape I went through! On a return appointment to the internist who saw me in the hospital, I reached an all-time low. This doctor, one who is supposed to help or certainly to ‘do no harm’ said just one sentence to me, but it was a doozie. He said, “You have only to look in a mirror to see where your problems lie.” I wrote him a nice two page letter (faxed of course, then mailed) telling him exactly what I thought of his advice. He was so fired he was nothing but charcoal when I had finished with him.

But those words put me into such a deep, dark place; a place where only fears reigned, a place that I now consider to be the true hell. I was left without hope. I just felt useless. I had to give up my job, my beautiful apartment that I had worked so hard for, my freedom all but gone as I moved in with my mother. I was, oh, twenty-eight (I think).

With my mother’s help, I finally got an accurate diagnosis: Cushing’s Syndrome, exogenous. Such a rare disorder it is said only two in one million people in the world are diagnosed with it each year. All those lovely corticosteroid pills I was taking had caused my cortisol levels to be so incredibly high that my body’s endocrine system was shut down. Cortisol is essentially adrenalin, and without it the body cannot live. But too much of it and it shuts down the adrenal glands (remember, I only have one anyway as the other was removed with my right kidney many years ago).

This massively high amount of cortisol causes the body to be completely unable to regulate its own metabolism; resulting in excess weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes and other such wonderfully fun symptoms that I’ll not continue to bore you with the details. Bottom line was, this was not my fault. Back in 2000 when I was diagnosed, the endocrinologist I was referred to ‘just to rule out an endocrine problem’ took one look at me and said, ‘You have Cushing’s syndrome.’ He said we’d do more testing to be sure, but I was a ‘classic case’ and need look no further to the answers I had sought since 1994.

But ah this wonderful doctor whom I adored made a very bad, bad mistake. This doctor put me on the corticosteroid dexamethasone to see if my adrenal gland would suppress the drug. But the drug ‘dex’ as we call it is five times as potent as the steroid I was already taking, prednisone; and he, uh, forgot to take me off the drug. The test is only ever run for a maximum of two days. In addition, the test should only be used for other forms of Cushing’s (like those that have brain tumors and adrenal gland tumors) and not for exogenous, or steroid-taking Cushing’s such as I have. I was on this highly potent drug for two months and it was killing whatever endocrine system I had left. It was later found out that the doctor was on loan from another hospital, and his mistake just caused me to receive an updated diagnoses- from exogenous Cushing’s to iatrogenic or ‘doctor caused’ Cushing’s. It is thought that without this mishap I would have recovered normally from the illness through the timely and slow withdrawal of the corticosteroids. As it was, it nearly killed me.

During this time, I was unable to sleep for more than one hour at a time, and for a maximum of three hours a day. This lasted for three months straight. Hard to believe isn’t it? Such sleep deprivation was not allowing me to recover. I was in constant pain from the extreme edema (swelling from water retention) that I was on painkillers around the clock. I gained a total of one hundred pounds in two month’s time; without overeating! I developed a hallmark symptom of Cushing’s: deep, purple colored stretch marks known as straie. The scars from this straie will always be with me. They are like potholes in my once smooth skin. The skin itself is thinned, like that of an older person.

Yes, I considered suing the hospital and the doctor that had complicated an already bad situation. Quite frankly, I just didn’t have the heart or the energy to do anything about it. Besides, he didn’t mean to forget about me. Right? Right. Too bad I didn’t know then what I know now.

I couldn’t get up from my bed because I wasn’t used to being big as a house, so I spent all my time on the living room couch. During my time on the couch, as I like to refer to it, I considered suicide. I had to rethink that as it completely went against all I knew and believed in, religion wise. It wouldn’t have been a nice thing to do to my mom either, the only one who always believed in me and was always there. Through the pain, through all the tears, she was there. She’s still there for me, every single day. My father helped me a lot in this as he too knew such extreme pain.

But this life wasn’t all it was cracked up to be if it could take a healthy, normal girl, and turn her into a decrepit old woman before the age of thirty. Right? I mean, what kind of justice is there in that? They even gave me a wheelchair and a cane when the steroids ate through the ball joints of my hips. Of course, I refused to use them. I still won’t. So, I had to find that justice; figure out why I got this illness, what I had to learn from it, so I could move on with living. This isn’t living you know- it’s existing. Surviving.

So, I withdrew into my mind to search for the answers. After all, I no longer had work to fill the hours with. I had to find something to do. I became obsessed with reasoning out my illness and my continued existence. I mean, people younger than me were dying from Cushing’s. Mother with four kids, kids… just people dying from something I had, too. It was and is such a sad motivator to live. I thought my past pain and subsequent healing from the removal of my right kidney was sufficient for one person to go through, but I realized I was wrong. So wrong.

Maybe now those three words have retreated just a bit; further into the back of my mind where they are safer for not having been spoken this day. A dear friend told me today that people would be touched by my writing this series. I don’t know about that, but I hope so. I think it’s pretty obvious I’m doing this for me but God knows I’m not the only one who can understand such soul angst. Through different reasons, and many seasons, we all remain able to learn from the hell that life can sometimes be. But then, this isn’t about my physical health, it’s about those three damned words.

IV. Revealed: Three Blasted Words

I spoke those three blasted words to someone very dear to me today. He wasn’t surprised; why did I expect him to be? I’m glad though. It was a hurdle; but on to the story.

Since first being diagnosed in 2000, I’ve been through a lot of changes. I have ‘latched’ onto people that have proven to be untrustworthy. Yes, I did that before but not to such an extent. I seem to lack the judgment I once had, unable to build it further as would befit my age. I haven’t ‘grown’ in ways I believe I would have without Cushing’s. See, I think the Cushing’s has tripped a wire in my brain- and I’ve no idea how to fix it. If I can. Or, if it will happen magically when I am well, or at least completely detoxed from the steroids.

Steroids are known to change the chemistry in the brain. They eat healthy brain cells, much as, say, marijuana will; hence the medically recognized states of confusion, memory loss and lack of concentration and cognitive abilities. If a ‘Cushie’ (which is what we Cushing’s patients refer to ourselves as, and consider an endearment) is in adrenal crises, psychosis can be present, and a confused state is the norm. An adrenal crises occurs when there is a sudden ‘dip’ of cortisol in the body, usually from a stressful event as the cushie body cannot distinguish from good and bad stress, and the body is not able to secrete hormones accordingly.

But this fascination with the inner workings of my mind is new to me. Not that I only just started looking within for answers without, but that I am aware of it. Aware that is isn’t quite… normal. I dismissed the doctors who once said it was ‘all in my head’ with good reason; it isn’t all in my head, it is real, this Cushing’s. But there’s more to it than that. This brings me to those three blasted words. Well, I really shouldn’t rush at this point. They’re coming no matter what (like a Mack truck head-on, more like).

Ah, what the hell they’re only words: ‘Manic Depressive Disorder’. ‘MDD’. Or, the one-worded definition ‘Bi-polar’. There. I said them. I’m crazy, in a way. Extreme highs and extreme lows: who would have ever thought what I’ve been feeling isn’t normal? Not I. It isn’t as easy as taking a pill to regulate the moods of this thing, because they don’t always work. I have no medical insurance. Still, I have found a good psychiatrist and shall pay to be labeled with this… this… ‘MDD’; because I can’t not be treated, now that I’m aware of it. I have to try to get better; try to be able to function on a more even keel. If not for myself, then for those who care about me!

I just never considered this. I always thought I was oh, you know, obsessive a little bit, compulsive a lot, and more introspective than most as my illness and solitary life demanded. But the evidence is conclusive, at least to me. My mind is not helping my health; such extreme highs and lows bring about their own stress, and my body already cannot function well without regulating good and bad stress on a daily basis. But I do know that I won’t continue to treat this as something that will one day go away; I need to be courageous in the face of such adversity and just deal with it. Being open about it is, I think, the first step. Perhaps, hopefully even, the hardest step.

And, so I am open. This… this angst-ridden pity-party writing is how I deal.

What else did you think the three words would be? [smiles]

AND, a little word [ha ha] about my struggle for Social Security:

Well I had my social security appeals hearing on July 15. So I think I can finally talk about it now. I first applied oh four years ago. I had to reapply two years ago or has it been three? Anyways. So I had been denied on paper four times to get to the hearing. I had appeared twice before the judge. Once, I wasn’t prepared and she said get an attorney. Second time, I had moved and lost my attorney so then I moved back she said go get an attorney I will reschedule you. So I did.

The attorney assured me she would get records that were more up to date. She did not do so. When asked if there was new information by the judge, she said no. Anyways, my diagnoses on paper are: Fibromyalgia (which I don’t have), Cushing’s Syndrome, Avascular Necrosis of both hips from steroids. Oh and glomolumerlonephritis something like that of the kidney. I don’t know if I have that, but my last doctor put it down on their paperwork.

So, the judge had an Endocrinologist on the phone to ‘consult’ her and had previously stated that he was only to help her understand the medical things, but that’s NOT how it turned out. I have never seen him before! He knows nothing of me. Her questions were really skewed. She was looking for documentation that doesn’t exist I mean COME ON I haven’t had medical insurance since 2002! How the HELL am I supposed to have MRI’s of the hips that are newer, xrays, all these tests do they THINK I’m made of money?

The endocrinologist wasn’t too bad. He said obvsiouly being given a dexamethasone suppression test for 4-8 weeks [I can no longer remember!!!] it had made my Cushing’s so severe and most of my problems could be attributed to it. He couldn’t at all understand how it happened but I told him- the doctor forgot about me and told me to keep taking the dex. I didn’t know any better. Then the doctor left the hospital, and left me.

He said according to my records my blood pressure was under control. Well it is NOW- I was hospitalized within the past year in CA and given emergency medicine to lower it as it was so out of control. How is THAT controlled? Oh but WAIT the records weren’t there that documented this. Wow- what a neat thing to find out.

My diabetes I should be on medicine for and I could go down on the steroids quicker, according to this doc who doesn’t know me. Huh? I only GET diabetes when I go down or up! Otherwise, giving me meds would only screw with the sugars. I cannot take their ferking Glucophage it makes my IBS off the charts no way, no how I’d rather inject insulin. I do think some injections when tapering might help but HOW I ask can I do THAT without medical supervison? I can’t. I’m not God!

He said I could work sedentary work. Ack ack ack! I told him of my extreme swelling but heck I guess if someone is dumb enough to hire my sorry ass then they could also give me an expensive fully padded ottoman like I have under my desk. To limit swelling. Not to mention that I’d have to call in sick about 99% of the time. Sure, I’m an employers DREAM.

But then he said I would have lifelong problems relating to the Cushing’s and steroid use. He doesn’t understand the kidney at all. The severe IBS is ‘controlled’ with Codeine even tho I told him nothing else works only codeine and I cannot take enough to control it really as it turns me into a zombie. Didn’t listen.

Said my hips when last tested were in stage I [thank GOD but that was 4 years ago!] and would likely progress as it usually does and I could expect lifelong operations. Like DUH, ya think?

But the whole problem was… the judge thought I have REFUSED to go down because I was using steroids like an addict. She asked the endocrinologist if anyone would use them recreationally AH HA HA HA! Maybe she thought I was using anabolic steroids? Yeah, I’m a jock all right. Sheeesh.

The Endocrinologist said with a giggle, “No. Can’t think of one person EVER wanting to take steroids.”

And my attorney? Basically, she said nothing. NOTHING. She hugged me at the end, and said she was sorry it didnt look good. Really? Ya think? I even spoke up for myself very respectfully and intelligently, but the bottom line is no one will listen to me; I’m only the patient.

I didn’t want their fliping money. I get a stipend until I’m 65 or no longer disabled from a private company. But NO ONE will insure me. I just wanted medical and dental. I need medical, I need dental. And I need a divorce. Erm nvm.

Appeal? HA HA HA I had to laugh at my attorney. Not with her sorry ass. She’s a nice lady folks but she doesn’t get paid unless I win. And I’m quite sure I did not, but will find out formally within ninety days. The evidence was what they wanted. I have had no doctor in my corner for two years. I have had to doctor myself.

All I can afford to buy are the main prescriptions I really need. Everything else… it just isn’t going to happen.

Ain’t life grand? It’s ok. I’ll get thru this. I want to go down now but I don’t want to get crazy in the head, or too exhuasted in the body before my sister comes down to visit me on 8/11. I’m looking forward to it.

How does anyone get disability without records??? I guess I could try on my newly diagnosed bipolarism. [shrugs]

UPDATE: I found an advocate. Waiting… to be formally denied. Current dosage: 20mgs. I went down. Yes! AND, I fixed my puter. Yay.

POEM: I’m a Fruggie Queen

I take big drugs and I can not lie
You normal people can’t define
The pain I got that makes me pop a pill cause I’m ill
Got codeine freaking me out
Dark dreams, blank stares and that ‘flat affect’
Cool for when I need to shut up
Talking everyone’s ears off
Normally ‘Speedy Gonzalez’
Stupid mouse doesn’t even do frugs
I mean drugs [eyes cross]

There’s serious frugs for days
Excruciating; pain unending. Stronger frugs
Endocet. Yeah
I take big drugs and I can not lie
How many druggies
Have fallen from doctor’s prescriptions
Fruggies I declare
Constantly cautioned for
Popping pills
But they’re so needed to drown out those

Normal people, un-frugged
Envious their vitamins
The only drugs they take, their bodies, minds, whole
My neurons forcing more
Drugs when I once needed none
Ability to function impaired
Big drugs can not lie; their purpose not evil
Lucky you, I see
Frugs really aren’t funny.
Oh well. I’m a fruggie queen, what did you expect?

POEM: Red Tape Kills

I exist on self-enforced life support, but I’m not dead.
Each day dutifully swallowing poisoned pills.
Heart and mind- basic functions- supported in this life not fully led.

Finding joy in once normal things, hopes for a life ahead.
Bottled dreams deaths only antidote, my anthem is still:
I exist on self-enforced life support, but I’m not dead.

The world whizzes past me, medicated.
So weakened, even fun is exhausting. Pain alone enough to feel
Heart and mind- basic functions- supported in this life not fully led.

Stubbornness saves me, as I will not dictate my life from Death’s bed.
Good intentions rarely enough for others to see what’s painfully real-
I exist on self-enforced life support, but I’m not dead.

Without insurance, there’s no doctor’s guidance, no caring if I live or die. Med-
students know nothing of my complexities- they simply write on my unpaid bill:
Heart and mind- basic functions- supported in this life not fully led.

Without my knowledge and persistence, my epitaph would read instead:
Here lies Adrienne- So young, such a shame. Left behind a hill of bills. Red tape kills.
I exist on self-enforced life support, but I’m not dead.
Heart and mind- basic functions- supported in this life not fully led.

I have TONS of writing, mostly about Cushing’s. If you’re interested, I am usually known under the following link at All Poetry:
http://allpoetry.com/AdrieWonky

Regular email addy is: fayrenysa-boards@yahoo.com

Update October 7, 2005

I have received a very basic health plan insurance through my state. It covers appointments and medications which is more than I’ve had these last three years, so I am happy. I do not know that it really covers hospitalization or many tests, but we shall see.

When I was at the urgent care for pneumonia last week, the doctor there told me where the nurse that I love is now practicing. He helped me get off a lot of medications that were hurting my kidney and since, I have been had fewer infections and almost no kidney pain. He quit his old practice I was seen at about one and a half years ago; I was never able to find him again.

Anyways, he opened up his own medical clinic complete with internist, and two other doctors. So, I called my disability worker and she told me to ask what plan the practice takes. So I called my nurse’s office and left a message to see what plan he accepts, and he called me RIGHT back. He was SO excited to hear from me. He said he’s been putting ads in the local newspapers in hopes I would find him (and other patients of his, of course). Knows the doctor I saw that gave me his card. He would love to treat me.

Told me to ask for the ‘family care’ plan so I called my disability worker back and I’m all setup (they just have to do the paperwork)!!! I made an appointment with my beloved nurse for 10/25/05. I cannot believe I get to go to a doctor and have meds again for nothing! Well, some are 3.00 and others are 2.00. And he knows Cushing’s of course and he looks forward to treating me. How… wonderful a feeling that is to hear. He is a nurse by choice; the practice is his. He has over 25 years in the medical field; we talk medications like two old friends. I’m so happy!

I change names often, so I will just update this as I can. My current website address link is: http://allpoetry.com/poets/Fix%20it%20Fae. I write there. Some funny, most sad. Lurkers welcome lol.

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