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Jean (Jinxie) Cushing’s and Acromegaly Bio

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This bio was originally posted 1/26/2008

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My Cushing’s and Acromegaly Odyssey

During the summer of 1999 I was a trim and fit 130 pound woman. I was very athletic and worked out all the time. At that time I had also been taking Tae Kwon Do. I was able to eat anything that I wanted and not gain weight. I wore size 8 pants.

Fast forward to May of 2000. I developed increasing stomach and bowel problems. I had a spastic colon and serious GERD. Along with that came a poof in my belly. Although I was still wearing the same size my stomach started to look “pregnant”. I was referred to a gastroenterologist who began treating my myriad of health issues. He really couldn’t find a reason for all of it but said he could treat it. For awhile I managed okay on the drugs and diet that I was treated with. Everything went in cycles.

During the summer of 2001 my naturally light blonde hair began to change color. It got black and mousy looking at the roots. At the same time it started thinning, the texture was horrible and no longer shiny and baby soft. I developed heat intolerance. I was uncomfortable in 80 degree weather. I also developed strange rashes and red dots on my skin. Later that fall my neck and face started to turn beet red. It stayed that way.

I could no longer fit in my wedding rings and my shoe size went from a size 7 ½ to and 8 1/2. Doctors didn’t find this impressive. My neck went from 13 inches around to 16. I gained 12 pounds in 1 week alone. I started getting real fat in my stomach and armpits, and I could no longer wear normal bras. I also started getting a lot of fat on my upper back. I grew hair in places that women should not grow hair. My face was huge with strange acne outbreaks. I also got acne in weird spots.

At the time I had put on about 20 pounds all in my stomach. When I would try other clothing it wouldn’t work because the next size bigger fit in the waist but the butt and legs were huge. I gave up on real pants and started to wear stretch clothes all the time. At this time I could no longer exercise to my peak performance. I was tired all the time and never felt well and I looked like I was 6 months pregnant. I thought that I was getting old.

January of 2002 my bowel and stomach troubles peaked. I was in and out of the hospital. Although I was following the healthy eating plan and exercising no doctors believed me. My PCP did a TSH test and it came back at 27.48. I was hypothyroid, at that time my estradiol levels were also non-existent. So off I was sent to an Endocrinologist. I was given replacements for both yet nothing improved.

This started an intense year of doctors. I was diagnosed with anything and everything at this point. I was started on the Atkins diet plan. I followed this religiously and walked for up to 2 hours a day and continued to gain weight. By this time I was 165 pounds. Finally realizing that something horrible was wrong with me I started seeking out Endo’s on my own. It led me to one who thought he should do a few 24 UFC’s. One came back high, 2 others came back high normal (33.4 and 33.9 with a range of 2.9-34). They then did serum cortisols which came back below normal. I was frustrated.

It was November by now and I was getting no where fast. At this point I had seen 11 different doctors. The last of which told me that there was no way I was eating healthy and not losing. He even suggested that my fresh sliced berry snack was making me fat. By now I’ developed high blood pressure and high blood sugars. My fasting blood glucose came in at 170.

By this time I was so exhausted and developed such horrid bone pain that I could not even exercise anymore. I remember waking up late one morning and crying. I went downstairs and told my hubby I was sure my back was breaking. It was horrible. I weighed 196 pounds and looked 9 months pregnant with triplets.

I came home and looked the tests up on the internet. I started reading everything that I could find. I knew then that I had Cushing’s. I found the Cushing’s help site. The trouble was that some tests were normal and some were abnormal. Finally in January of 2003 I went to see Dr. Friedman after another patient emailed me. Dr. Friedman tested my 17-Hydroxysteroids and 17- Ketosteroids which came back elevated. He also did some additional salivary cortisols testing. He finally figured out that I not only had Cyclic Cushing’s but also Acromegaly.

After many more tests and some MRI’s my tumors were found. I had pituitary surgery to remove them. I was devastated that I was not cured from the Cushing’s. After much consulting I decided to proceed with a Bilateral Adrenalectomy to cure it once and for all. I am recovering slowly but surely.

I am now 4 months post-op.

Click any thumbnail to view the larger image.

Before Cushing’s [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

In the kitchen [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

Jinxie [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

Jinxie [Photographer: Jeanne’s family]

Marki (Marki), Undiagnosed Bio

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Hi!

My name is Marki, and I am a 21 year old student. I have been suffering from Cushing’s-like symptoms for a while now, and the doctor at my college health center just recently told me that I most likely have Cushing’s.

My symptoms have all intensified over the past few years. I have gained almost 60 pounds in the last 11 months, I feel weak and tired almost all the time and my muscles have gotten so weak that I have a hard time walking up 2 flights of stairs to my apartment. I sleep for at least 10 hours a night, and have to set at least 5 alarms to be able to wake up for my 9:15 class, and I still end up missing it a lot of the time. I feel like I am walking around in a fog most of the time, and school is harder than it’s ever been. I am having a really hard time retaining information, even after studying for hours.

About 3 years ago I started growing hair under my chin, and getting stretch marks on my boobs. The stretch marks have now appeared on my belly below and around my belly button. My hair has always been really thick, and I have noticed that it is a lot thinner than it has ever been. I have also developed a lot of new allergies, including raspberries, tide laundry soap, nickel, and something else that I haven’t figured out yet, so I have a rash all over my stomach, armpits and thighs. I have had severe headaches since I was about 14, and they are getting more and more common. I also get frequent sinus infections. I got implanon (a type of birth control that they implant in your arm) about a year ago, and haven’t had a period since it was inserted. I have been on birth control (perscribed because of the hair on my chin) since I was 17, so I don’t really know if my period would be regular without it or not.

When I went into the health center I told the doctor about all of these symptoms, and his first thought was PCOS. I had an ultrasound, and there were no cysts. He then started testing me for Cushing’s and referred me to an endo in San Francisco. The endo ordered both a 24 hour urine test and a midnight saliva to be done before my appointment. These were the results:

24 hour-

range- 0-50

me- 49.7

Midnight saliva-

range- .5-1

me- 9.16

So, my free cortisol was within range, and my saliva was more that 9 times the normal levels. I have read a lot about Cushing’s in the last two weeks, but I still have a lot of questions! If anyone has any advice on how to deal with the sleep issues, what tests to request, or any other advice, I would really appreciate it! I need to figure out how to stay awake during the day so I can pass my classes!

Update:

My names Marki, and I am a 21 year old senior at Westmont College. After I finish my bachelors I plan on going to Physicians Assistant school to get my masters. This has been a crazy year for me. A few months ago, my doctor told me that I might have Cushing’s, and since then it has been a constant parade of tests. My body and attitude have changed SO much, and it is making school and life in general really hard. I am lucky to have the support of my family and friends, and I can’t wait to get through this and get on with my life! If anyone has any advice, feel free to message me 🙂

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