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Irene, Pituitary Bio

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FOR Irene Fox, everything seemed to go wrong all at once. It was 1999 and she thought her life was falling apart. She felt her relationships had deteriorated.

Her face and stomach became bloated. Meanwhile, her arms and legs became very thin. Her blood pressure was extremely high. The sunlight irritated her eyes.
One day the mother-of-two from Bray, Co Wicklow, lost the use of her leg. Then she started falling. “I was losing power in my arms and legs,” she recalled.
Irene was 47, so, she reasoned, maybe it was just the menopause. But she went to the doctor and found out that it wasn’t. She was sent to St Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown for a battery of tests which went on for more than two years.
In 2002 Irene was diagnosed with Cushings Syndrome, following an MRI scan. It emerged that a tumour on her pituitary gland was causing an excess production of cortisol, the stress-relieving hormone. She had an operation in Beaumont Hospital in August 2003.
“Before the operation I couldn’t walk for more than a few stops before falling down,” she recalls.
Irene’s condition did not improve following the operation, however. She discovered she was unable to keep any food down. In October she collapsed and was brought back to Loughlinstown where she stayed until January 2004.
“I was in intensive care for two weeks and then in the general hospital for 10 weeks.”
Irene, now aged 59, was told she had to increase the amount of steroids she was on.
“I take hydrocortisone and I wear a hydrocortisone bracelet to inform people that I take it.”
These days the mood swings are gone and her eyesight is better. “I walk with a stick but I don’t fall any more — the symptoms were caused by the tumour on the pituitary gland. I’m told that it affects different people in different ways.”
There should be more public awareness about the pituitary gland and its functions, she says.
“I feel there should be more awareness of the pituitary gland and what can happen if anything goes wrong — it’s one of these things that people just don’t seem to know much about.”

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Christine G, Pituitary Bio

2 Comments

It took approximately 6 years for me to be diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease. I have had many unrelated illnesses up to that point, Congestive Heart Failure, FMD, Gallbladder Removed, problems with vision, high blood pressure, weight gain, problems with balance and more.

No doctor could figure out why the weight gain only in my belly. All were prescribing different diets.

My husband and I were on vacation for a month in Florida every morning and afternoon I would walk on the beach 3 miles each time and my belly kept getting bigger???? My husband saw an article on excessive cortisol and how it was a stress hormone and that excessive cortisol expanded your belly!

My daughter had a friend who was an endocrinologist, I made an appointment to see him when we got home. At first sight the doctor said I do not believe you have “it” but to appease you I will test you. To this day I do not believe he would have tested me if he was not friends with my daughter. I did not have any of the typical signs. Non of us is textbook, we are all individuals.

To the doctors surprise testing came back positive for Cushing’s Disease the doctor said that he would have to send you to someone more familiar with Cushing’s and he sent me to Mass General. I met with a Dr. Tritos who once again said I did not have the typical signs and I was retested. Yup it was Cushing’s. I met with a nurosurgeon at Mass General, Dr. Sweringen, who had extensive experience in Cushing’s surgeries.

My insurance company denied my out of network coverage. I saw a few doctor’s locally and did not feel comfortable with any local surgeons because of the lack of surgical experience with Cushing’s Disease. I began my battle with the insurance to have the out of network covered. I was first rejected by the insurance company, I then appealed with Maximus (second step in process) and was rejected. During this time my health was deteriorating, I had double vision and could no longer drive, I needed to hold onto someone to walk because I had become so unsteady. My family was worried because they had read that the longer you waited for surgery chances were less likely for a full recovery. My daughter gave me the money for the surgery which I had at Mass General on November 16, 2016 by Dr. Sweringen, who is fantastic! I had successful Pit surgery.

After surgery I continued my pursuit in getting the money back. I went to the next level, the applet judge……This time I won, with the help of my local endocrinologist, Dr. Busch and documented proof of Dr. Sweringens exceptional expertise in Pituitary Surgery.

Now almost 10 months later, I am very surprised that I still have muscle weakness and joint pain. When I mention this to doctors they do not believe it is Cushing’s related, even though when you go to the Cushing’s Facebook support group people mention this. I am wondering how many others have this problem 10 months post op. I still have trouble getting out of a chair.
What is so sad you are not told about the post op obstacles you will face.

I think that all of us facing this disease have to give ourselves credit for the strength we have and have to continue having to battle this disease, and to appreciate our support of family and friends.

 

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Leann, Undiagnosed Bio

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Originally from December 14, 2008

I’m Leann, a 40-year-old single mom of three from Pittsburgh. My son was recently diagnosed with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. Because of this, it caused me to suspect possible adrenal problems with my oldest daughter (age 19) and myself. I am unsure of my daughters exact lab results (she sees an endo on 12/22), but mine seem to be indicitive that further testing is needed to rule out Cushing’s Syndrome. That’s why I am here (well, that – plus my friend told me to join).

My initial bloodwork shows high blood pressure, high BAD cholesterol, low GOOD cholesterol, and high cortisol levels. I initially went to my PCP due to extreme fatigue! I am soooooooo tired ALL THE TIME! My muscles are always sore and my bones hurt. I am prone to miagraines. I have been clinically depressed, I believe my entire life, but was diagnosed about 20 years ago. The weirdest thing (possibly unrelated) is my diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative retinal disease characterized by loss of peripheral vision and night blindness. My mom read somewhere that loss of peripheral vision is a symptom of Cushing’s, but she can’t find the website.

I also have gained a significant amount of weight in the last few years, all in my mid-section. I look like I am either 7 months pregnant or that I drink a case a beer a day.

My PCP seems to think that I do NOT have Cushing’s because my ACTH levels are fine, but he didn’t do any special ACTH testing, only the basic bloodwork, all drawn at the same time. I argued with the nurse about it and asked that my PCP call me back (on Thursday) but he hasn’t yet.

I am just so tired of feeling like crap all the time. I am hoping to find some answers here. Thanks for reading.

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Heather P (Heather), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed 5

 

This is about my husband…2010 diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (one day he was fine, the next day he was in agony type onset). Was placed on methotraxate, prednisone, humera, actemra, etc. for the next 4 or 5 years. None of the bilogics worked for more than a month. Pred and pain meds became a mainstay for about 5 years. I started to question the accuracy of the diagnosis and was patted on the head and basically told to forget it and go my merry way and accept it. We were always told the bloodwork “was fine. no issues with the exception that when Neal hurt, his inflammatory blood factors were low..which was odd but it is his body”. It was left at that. We basically gave up the Rheumatologist in 2015 as it was getting us nowhere and nothing was changing. Something was still wrong.

Late 2015, his weight gain went crazy. He developed moon face, the traditional hump on the back of his neck, huge adbdomen with tons of stretch marks everywhere, no energy, listlessness, severe pitted edema, paper thin skin, spots all over his legs, rash on his chest, pressure on his chest and lungs when laying down, sleeping all of the time (as in 2 seconds after he hit is recliner), sleeping solely in the recliner, lower extremety severe weakness, nausea, etc. This led to congestive heart failure in Jan 2016 due to the extreme fluid retention. Placed on lasix, indomethacin, blood pressure meds. Cleared by heart doc two weeks later to return to work.

Still no results…..still spiraling downhill. March 2016 Get steroid injection in the knees as he cannot walk due to the weakness, swelling and pain. Vision issues are now added to the list of continuing issues.

June 7, 2016. Go to another doctor out of state and get more bloodwork done as we cannot take it anymore. They take more blood. Doc does comment on his paper thin skin and mentions that is usually from steriod use. Neal passes out and has to be taken out of the office in a wheel chair as he cannot walk due to the extreme weakness and pain. Increase lasix to 2 a day and get prednisone.

I have finally had enough. I cannot stand seeing my once vibrant active husband just laying there…just existing….just barely…. I make a comprehensive list of all of his symptoms, make a graph of his blood work results from 2010 to present…what I found was astonishing…his results were NOT ok. I took him to the local doctor and pleaded and begged for him to figure out what is wrong with my husband. I initially go thte ole “I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes” etc. as we had just gone to the new rheum. doc a week ago. He ordered a new echocardiogram and it was clear. Added new drug. Neal had an allergic reaction and was put on high dose (50 mg daily) of prednisone combined with zantac and zyrtec for 3 days.

A week later, his bloodwork came back…gout, hypothyroid (based on symptoms), severe internal infection. Add more meds.

Go to eye doc and get the diagnosis of cateracts in both eyes. Doc felt it was due to prednisone due to the rapid onset. Surgery scheduled for next week.

In the meantime, Neal has gone even more downhill….now he feels like he periodically fractures a rib, a finger, etc. Even more stretch marks are present. He is listless and cannot function. He cannot walk. Add decreased urine output even on the lasix). He just lays there stuck in a shell. He has missed so much work in the past 2 weeks. He lives as one would in a nursing home…I take care of his daily needs. He cannot.

I go back to doing my research online. Cushings Syndrome pops up…OMG….Between all of the biologics, the up and down on the prednisone, zyrtec, steroid injections , etc. has sent him into the major downward spiral that he is experiencing…..Steroid induced Cushings along with hypothyroidism (might even be hashimoto’s..too soon to tell). We came to this conclusion at 2 am this morning. To further prove this, he took an additional 10 mg of prednisone immediately. I know…he refused to go to the er…he wanted to prove it one way or the other. (I did tell him that I was gonna invoke my medical poiwer of attorney and have him taken out by ambulance on tuesday if not sooner if this didn’t have some impact). Well…he can WALK this morning. He actually went to the bathroom to use the toilet….THAT is a huge deal to us. He is in pain but he can MOVE!!!! He went to work this afternoon as well. He has to have his cateract surgery so he can see to work (we will lose our home…company house…and everything else if this is not done asap). That is his priority. Once the surgery is done, we will be headed back to Nebraska to approach the doctor there about our findings relating to Cushings Syndrome.

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Deborah S, Undiagnosed Bio

3 Comments

undiagnosed

 

Hello all,

I do not know where to begin. For many years I have been struggling with these symptoms. I have proximal weakness, intolerance to stress, blood pressure fluctuations, hyperpigmentation, reactive hypoglycemia, sweating, severe dehydration, very bad confusion, vision, memory problems, physical body changes (hump, bruises), carb intolerance, and inability to exercise.

My endocrinologist did a workup for Cushing’s disease and the midnight saliva test was high. She brushed it off as “stress”. I am seeing a doctor now that says I have POTS and Dysautonomia. My doctor says I have inappropriate adrenaline rushes.

My body is falling apart because I haven’t found a doctor who will take my symptoms and test results serious. I would like to talk to others who are having trouble getting diagnosed and also to those who have gotten diagnosed who have a good doctor.

God Bless and Thank You,
Deborah

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AllisonChained (AllisonChained), Undiagnosed Bio

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undiagnosed2

I’m becoming increasingly concerned I may have Cushings and I dont know where to start.

In 2006 my health suddenly took a dive. It started with my mental health. I had severe anxiety and depression and panic symptoms. I am currently disabled due to agoraphobia. My fight or flight response was on a hair trigger. My brain would give me sudden urgent DO THIS RIGHT NOW MESSAGES, as though if I didn’t I would be in danger. But the things it was telling me to do was things like jump out of the moving car, put my hand on the stove. I was hospitalized eight times in impatient mental health. I feel like I’m on high alert all the time.

In 2007 I developed insomnia and it’s been very severe ever since. I sleep on average three to five hours a night no more than five nights a week. This past October I didn’t sleep for 9 straight days aside from two one hour naps. I have circadian rhythm disorder and when I do sleep, it’s usually between 8-11am. I also have diagnosed sleep apnea. I take Trazodone, it doesn’t help enough.

I’ve been being treated for the past four years for Fibromyalgia. I was seeing a PT for massage therapy twice a week for two years because I am in serious pain all the time. Every day I have sinus headaches and headaches behind my eyes. I have pain in my lower back/hip/IT band and then in my neck, shoulders and arms. My shoulder joints are so painful I wake up with my arms dead more often than not and I just feel incredibly weak during the day. I take 2700 mg of Gabapentin/day. I am 60.5 inches in height and weigh 297lbs but I have never had high blood pressure. I have a pendulous abdomen and keep getting yeast infections under it. I have tons of stretch marks, adult onset acne cysts/boils and mosquito bites that just wont go away. In the past year I’ve been losing my hair by the handful.

For a while I thought I might have a sex addiction because my hormones were just out of control but then my sex drive abruptly disappeared. My menstrual cycles disappeared as well. I’ve had three in the past five years. And I don’t know if it’s sleep deprivation or what but my vision has gotten so bad lately. I had mild double vision so they put prisms or something in my glasses to raise the vision in one eye slightly and lower it in the other. I used to be able to get by without them but now I feel like I cant see hardly at all without my glasses and I have trouble tolerating light.

I have an appointment with my primary on Tuesday but I frankly do not trust him and I dont know how to bring this up and request to be screened.

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Jill (Jillleesmith), Adrenal Bio

1 Comment

adrenal-glands

 

Cushing’s Syndrome
Addison’s Disease

After I had my daughter in 1995, I started gaining weight. I went from 110 pounds to over 200 pounds in a year. I had so many symptoms and was told to quit eating. My family wondered what happened to me. I never ate much. I was always the smallest one. One doctor even wrote me a prescription to get a dog. Over the course of 10 years, I was told I had possible MS, high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain, severe depression resulting in several suicide attempts, hallucinations, declining vision, stress, severe fatigue, inability to work, divorce, personality disorder, inability to walk the stairs or walk for that matter and numerous others.
I went undiagnosed for 10 years. I was home sick one day on September 9, 2006. I was watching Mysterious Diagnosis and saw a woman with my symptoms. She had Cushing’s Disease. She turned out to be Sharmyn McGraw, a friend and mentor. I made an appointment for the next day. I asked my doc to test me for Cushing’s. I was diagnosed with multiple tumors in each adrenal gland called Cushing’s Syndrome. I was literally on my death bed. I was unable to care for all my kids and had given my cousin custody of my oldest son and my ex was given full custody of my daughter. I did manage to care for my son Gavin, who actually took care of me. Riding his bike home from school to make sure I was ok and riding his bike home right after school to take care of me.

I went through many different testing including vein catheterization to see which adrenal needed to come out first. I begged my endo to just take them both but with that it would mean I would have to be on steroid replacement everyday for the rest of my life in order to sustain life. I had surgery on November 14, 2006 to remove my left adrenal gland. I lost 45 pounds in 1 month but all of a sudden I was gaining weight once again. It was found that the other tumor riddled adrenal gland needed to come out.

On February 14, 2008, I had my right adrenalectomy. This was an even more difficult recovery. I was hospitalized for 15 days. Resulting in Addison’s Disease, I am unable to work. I lost my home, my kids, my animals, my car, my life. I have not been able to return to work and am on disability. I am just surviving.

The reason for this letter???? First, I want to bring awareness to these very rare life-threatening diseases, Cushing’s Syndrome and Addison’s Disease. My body has never recovered from the extreme weight gain and weight loss. The overproduction of cortisol for 12 years, has caused irreversible damage to my body. I have lost 40 pounds. My stomach hangs and gets in the way. I could never be intimate with anyone because of how my body looks.

Steroids everyday for the rest of my life is a hard pill to swallow. Forgive the pun. Lol

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