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Joanne (Mojo1973), Steroid Induced Bio

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steroids

 

Hello Everyone,

I will try to keep my introduction short. I am a 43 year old wife, mother, and certified freak of nature. I was diagnosed with steroid induced Chushings in October of 2015.

Since I was a child I have had random medical issues but over the Over the last 20 years I have become a connoisseur of the medical arts. Funny because the I worked in the medical field for 15 out of the 20 years. I seem to collect diagnoses like a girl scout collects badges.

At 17 years old I collected my first big badge after months of being sick, Chronic EBV. In my 20’s I received the badges for Hashimoto’s Thyroidism, Fibromyalgia, and Adenomyosis.

As I moved into my thirty’s my badges were getting bigger and better; they included Sjogren’s syndrome, Raynaud phenomenon, Hemiplegic migraine, Meniere’s disease. It seemed every time I needed to go to the doctors they wanted to test me for something new. All I wanted was relief because my symptoms were getting more aggressive. They have caused me to several surgeries’ not limited to Hysterectomy (by 28years old), Splenectomy, Smart plugs in my lower eye lids, EGD’s and Colonoscopies.

My hemiplegic migraines have caused multiple visits to the ER and the hospital’s Neuro floor. With these Migraines I have TIA’s so I have trouble walking or talking for days after. As the years have gone by my illness has gotten worse and it all came to a head in June 11th 2015.

I felt awful and I had for several months. My new doctor was very confused because my blood work kept coming back normal for the most part, but I kept having random fevers (up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit) joint swelling and body aches/pains.

On June 11th my family couldn’t take it, they had watched me be in pain for too long, so they took me to the doctor in the morning. When the doctor saw my whole family there at my appointment in tears, he decided to do more blood work. After the appointment he sent me home and said I should hear from him in the next few days with the results. So, we left feeling defeated and like their would never be any help. About two hours after I got home the doctor called and said to get to the hospital that something was wrong but he was unsure what it was. My blood work showed my inflammation markers at 174 and my WBC 28,000. In addition to that my kidneys and liver were fighting to staying the game. This was the start of the current medication roller-coaster, and prednisone was the main med in this cart I’m riding in.

It took three months to get the inflammation and WBC down but I took 1 month at 80mg then 3 months of 60mg of steroids. My taper is going very slow and painful. I’m currently down to 4mg and it will take till October to ween all the way off. But because of the steroids I gained 70lbs in four months. This brought my 5 foot frame to 211lbs. I have all the best signs of Cushings and for the most part I’m dealing ok. Until I can’t bend over to put on my shoes or I have to use my vpap machine to breath at night.

I guess I should tell you what my current badges are narrowed down to. I have a rare auto immune auto inflammatory disease called Hypergammaglobulinemia with Familial Mediterranean fever. To have have name gives me a direction. I would rather I do this then one of my children. I just want the information for my family so they can have early diagnoses and live a long life without pain.

 

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Erin T, Pituitary Bio

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pituitary-location

 

After six years of trying to get pregnant I finally decided to see an endocrinologist who suggested I might have a tumor on my adrenal glands and prescribed by bromocriptine to make it shrink. Two years later I was able to carry a pregnancy to term and delivered a healthy baby girl. After delivery I was never able to breast feed, kept gaining weight, had horrible stretch marks and odd bruising.

One year later I still had not had my period so I went to my OB-GYN. She shot me full of progesterone and estrogen, which did nothing so I went back to the endocrinologist. That day my BP was 173/121 and I weighed 180lbs (I’m 5’4″).

On first sight he diagnosed me with Cushing’s Syndrome and after a series of tests over many months it was confirmed.

On November 25, 2011 I had surgery to remove the macro adenoma that had completely consumed my pituitary gland. Ever since then my immune system has been weak and I’m tired all the time. Despite losing weight and exercising and eating right I just can’t seem to feel good.

I take .88 Levothyroxine, 2.5 prednisone, 2 doses of desmopressin and hormone replacement. Most days I wish I had never had the surgery. But, through it all I have done my best to live.

6 weeks after my surgery I went back to grad school and graduated on-time with honors, but since then I haven’t been able to keep a job outside of the home because I get sick if someone sneezes within 100 yards of me, and lets not even talk about the stomach bug.

I’ve been hospitalized twice and now carry injections of dexomethozine and anti-nausea meds with me everywhere I go. I’ve told my doctor about my fatigue and he refuses to prescribe Growth Hormone, but I’ve learned to suffer through it.

 

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Melissa (Melissa), Suspected Pituitary Bio

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The pituitary gland

The pituitary gland

At only 19, I have been through a lot medically. I went through puberty at the young age of 8 and by age 15 was diagnosed with osteoporosis after breaking 20 bones within a year’s time. I had always had hormone problems and was put on birth control pills in hope to help.

This January I stopped the pill and within a few days started to feel crazy. After an allergic reaction to nuts I went to the hospital and was put on prednisone. Within a few days I was miserable and ended up on suicide watch. I knew my hormones were wacky and I had panic attacks, depression and anxiety all of which I never had before.

Over the next two months I gained 40+ Lbs all in my stomach and got “moon face” with a slight buffalo hump. I was exhausted all the time. I bruised easily and was afraid to talk to doctors for fear they would put me in a mental ward for my anxiety and depression. I could barely sleep through the night becuase of nightmares. I had no libido and started growing a lot of facial and body hair…

When I came home from freshman year, I finally went to the doctors. Urologists, cardiologists, endocrinologist, gynogylogists you name it. Most wrote me off. The endocrinologist diagnosed me with PCOS and hypothyroidism after blood work and becuase of my symptoms. However I kept having headaches and would be freezing and rapid rate heart even when laying down. I finally perseuded the doctor to do a brain MRI. I got the results last week and there is a suspected 3mm pituitary microadenoma. Of course my endocrinologist left for a month vacation and I go back to school next week.

Right now I’m in the process of figuring out where to go and what to do but I feel like this would be the closest thing to what I have… Hopefully answers will come soon

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Zoann M (Zoann), Steroid-Induced Bio

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steroids

 

In July 2010 I was rushed to the hospital by a friend who was convinced that I was dying. Having had asthma for many years, I kept telling her I wasn’t having an asthma attack, I was just so tired I could barely hold my head up. The ER doctor was a brand new resident, she took one look at me and said “You’ve got Cushing’s.” I had no idea what she was talking about, but because I was too tired to care, I agreed to be admitted to the hospital for testing. Five days later I walked out with a confirmed diagnosis of exogenous Cushing’s Syndrome caused by massive doses of prednisone I had been taking for more than 10 years for the asthma.

Five years later I have had Adrenal Insufficiency added to the long list of conditions caused by the prednisone overdoses. I am steroid dependent now; 15 mg of prednisone daily keeps me from being admitted to the hospital for asthma attacks. Taking the drug that almost killed me in order to stay alive is one of the hardest things I have to do.

I am fortunate in that I have an excellent endocrinologist who works well with my primary care doctor to manage the multiple medications I take to cope with my various chronic conditions. Right now the thing I struggle with the most is the pain – muscle pain, feet pain, joint pain, nerve pain. Trying to find medications to deal with the pain is almost impossible; I can’t take most narcotics, even if I could find a doctor to prescribe them.

My endocrinologist told me at our last visit that there was nothing else he could do for me except monitor my condition. My primary care doctor has said the same thing. It is very discouraging to be told that there is nothing else that can be done.

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Elizabeth F (ElizabethF), Suspected Cushing’s

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Born with congenital hypothyroid (which was undiagnosed until 45). My thyroid is the size of a lima bean!

Discovered that I was exposed in utero and as a toddler to sky-high amounts of dioxins — i.e., Agent Orange, along with what has now been diagnosed as Asperger Syndrome. Through college, I was very athletic, super-strong (stronger than many men and could squat-jump HUNDREDS of pounds) and was an expert skier. I also played co-ed soccer, despite respiratory wheezing. I just dealt with it.

I have had episodes of suspected Cushings for about 25 years.. It felt like immediate-onset mono. I would have tons of energy all of a sudden, turn into a cleaning monster and get loads done (for example, cleaning out and rearranging my large storage unit) only to crash a week later and barely to get out of bed — coupled with weight gain of 40lbs + each episode.

At the lapses between episodes, I could diet and force myself to exercise, lose weight… but each time it was worse. I would gain 40, lose 35 — so I started losing ground. When given prednisone for bronchitis several times, when pregnant, and when given prednisone for systemic poison ivy, the same symptoms came back… but with much higher severity.

At the same time, I had multiple surgeries for perineal abscess — which was lanced and turned into a rectal-vaginal abscess. This would never heal.. I had 10 fistula flap, pig plug, cauterizations — none of which healed. No one could figure out why I wouldn’t heal. They tested me for HIV, but that was negative — so they had no answers. I seemed almost allergic to myself.

My surgeon talked me into a “temporary” loop ileostomy, promising that with no food going through, the fistula would heal. No dice. The ileostomy broke down, herniated, developed gangrene, and I ended up losing my appendix, some upper and lower intestine, and my caecum (which absorbs bile back into the body), and has resulted in terrible malabsorption problems and chronic diarrhea. Because I wouldn’t heal, the ileostomy was made permanent (my worst nightmare). Five years later I found a doctor to reverse the ileostomy. However, he noticed non-cancerous lesions on my intestine. Biopsies revealed nothing remarkable. I tested negative for celiac, for Crohn’s… just “cranky bowel”. While the takedown/reconnection surgery went well, my surgery site (a straight line from sternum to pelvic bone) would not heal internally and I herniated in 8 places. A piece of mesh was placed to cover the entire site. At the same time my gall bladder was removed because it had reportedly atrophied.

Since that last surgery I have gained 60 pounds, in 30 pound increments. One was immediately after the surgery, the other was over Spring Break. I got a lot done, felt like superwoman…all the while eating LESS than usual and drinking lots more water, but gained 30 pounds in a week, without swollen ankles. I had developed stretch marks in my armpits.

Since this started, my body has changed shape, places it stores, my feet have gone up 3 sizes, and my skin has turned kind of orange. I look like I go to a cheap tanning salon. The small buffalo hump I had 10 years ago has turned into a full-blown travel pillow which goes around the base of my neck. It looks a bit like my head is coming out of a vagina.

Don’t know what else to say. I can tell you what endo’s NOT to go to… But I have yet to find one who even believes cyclic Cushings’ even exists. I am trying not to dwell on the underlying question: Am I going to die of this before I get some real help?

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Janice B (NotSoCushie), Pituitary Bio

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The pituitary gland

The pituitary gland

 

Hi All: I had Cushing’s with a pituitary tumor. My endo always said I had too many symptoms. He said he could isolate the Cushing’s symptoms, but he was still left with a handful of other symptoms unrelated to Cushing’s, so he thought I had something else in addition to Cushing’s. But he said, one thing at a time.

I had the transf….up the nose surgery to remove the tumor on 3 April/2013. Successfully removed, however the surgeon nicked the pituitary gland and now I have adrenal insufficiency and take 5mg prednisone for life.

Then the something else turned out to be uterine cancer so I had an operation on 28 Nov/2013 for that. I am feeling my old self.

Last year was able to walk playing 9 holes of golf. This year goal is to walk 18 holes of golf. Today I consider myself Not So Cushie and am grateful for each day I have of good health.
I am writing my memoir: IT WAS THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER and have completed a one-person play of the same name based on the memoir. If anyone is interested in following my progress on these two things please see my website:janbarrett7.wordpress.com.

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Did She Have Cushing’s?

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By the time A.A. arrived in my office, she had spent almost a year looking for answers.

In November 2012, she was 45 and struggling to lose weight and keep her blood pressure down. What sounds like a common scenario, however, was anything but.

A.A. was experiencing fatigue and malaise, and the area around her eyes bruised easily. Another puzzling symptom: She said she was acutely aware of her neck. It wasn’t pain, but awareness. She was losing more hair than usual in her brush and had stopped menstruating, and her skin broke open easily. Her primary-care physician thought it was early menopause.

She asked family and friends, but no one had such symptoms at menopause. She was increasingly self-conscious as she gained weight. Her primary-care provider referred her to an OB/GYN, and a variety of tests came back normal, including a pap, thyroid, female hormones, and a transvaginal ultrasound.

Worst of all, A.A. struggled emotionally. She felt as though she were in a constant state of agitation, with depression and anxiety. A.A.’s symptoms slowly took over her life. She was becoming a person she hardly recognized.

In July, she ran into a friend who was a nurse. Noticing the puffiness of her face, the nurse asked A.A. whether she was on prednisone. Learning she wasn’t, the nurse suggested A.A. might have Cushing’s syndrome, which results from too much cortisol in the body for long periods. It can be caused by taking a corticosteroid, like prednisone, or by something inside the body signaling the adrenal glands to produce too much of the hormone.

A visit to an endocrinologist confirmed the diagnosis after a 24-hour urine-cortisol test, and an MRI appeared to reveal a small adenoma on the pituitary gland. The endocrinologist referred her to Jefferson to see a surgeon.

Although she was not looking forward to brain surgery, A.A. was relieved to have an answer.

But neurosurgeon James Evans, Jefferson’s director of pituitary surgery, did not think the Cushing’s was caused by the pituitary adenoma. He ordered an additional MRI and blood work, which confirmed his hunch, and he referred her to Jefferson Endocrinology for further detective work.


Solution

When A.A. walked into my office, she was extremely stressed and exhausted. I ordered a chest CT, which revealed a nodule. But it did not fluoresce during a nuclear medicine test, as it likely would have had it been causing the Cushing’s. Next up was a series of scans, but all came back clear.

I still felt the tumor should come out and referred her to cardiothoracic surgeon Scott Cowan.

Three days after surgery to remove one lobe of her lung and the tumor, A.A.’s face already was noticeably slimmer.

Her Cushing’s was caused by a carcinoid tumor the size of a pencil eraser in her lung. The tumor – although not large enough to fluoresce during testing – had been signaling her adrenal glands, which produced enough cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone, for 24 people.

Cushing’s accounted for all her physical and emotional symptoms. The syndrome can be missed because it mimics obesity in many ways.

With the tumor out, her adrenal glands would effectively go to sleep. She’d need prednisone, which would slowly be tapered over the next year. Fortunately, A.A.’s lymph nodes were clear, and she did not need radiation or chemotherapy.

Over the next year, A.A. got her life and her body back. By January, A.A. was completely off prednisone, feeling and looking like herself.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/health/20150412_Could_brain_surgery_solve_her_baffling_symptoms_.html#xPCBW4wRoFxTCWDh.99

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