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Mika, Undiagnosed Bio

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I’m 16, going on 17… and I think I’m close to being diagnosed with Cushings. Quite frankly its scaring me so I’ll just do my best to get my story out there.

I’ve always kind of been on the heavier side compared to other people my age, even when I was really little. However, my weight has shot up from 60 kg to about 110 kg in 2-4 years, and my already awful confidence is basically shattered.

When I got my growth spurt I got severe stretch marks, but I thought it was nothing, and my parents attributed it to me growing so quickly or something along those lines.

I’m in constant pain, I’ve barely been to school since September 2016. I can barely move half the time due to severe exhaustion and pain, I fear for my future.

We originally thought all the pain was from gluten intolerance, which I was diagnosed with, late 2015. We completely cut gluten out of my diet, but instead of getting better, my symptoms got worse. The exhaustion lead to a diagnosis of chronic fatigue in mid 2016.

On a whim I’m guessing, my doctor ordered tests for ACTH when he got told of my worsening symptoms. It was much higher than it should’ve been, and I got forwarded to an endocrinologist, more tests, ect… I need to go back in a few days for the results, I’m becoming more and more nervous the more I wait.

My already bad mental health has taken a hit, as well. I was never really mentally okay due to a horrible string of things happening to me in my childhood, but when this popped up my illnesses got 10x worse, to the point I’ve harmed myself and attempted suicide. Even when I feel okay enough physically, I can’t go outside without being scared something will happen to me or that everyone is judging me for how I look. I was on medication for depression, but I was able to function even less when I was on it, so I was taken off of it. I have depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other disorders which have been diagnosed and they’ve all worsened in some way.

My schooling has taken an even bigger hit, I can’t think right due to disturbed sleep, general tiredness and headaches. I used to be a fairly good student and before I left, my grades had dropped significantly, my teachers and peers were looking down on me for how far I had fallen.

I used to constantly blame myself for my weight, I’ve hated it since I was very little, so at least this gives me a small bit of relief that its not completely my fault.

I just want to get my life back, I have my whole life ahead of me, but my teenage years are basically being stolen from me like I had my childhood stolen. While everyone else my age worries about tests I worry on if I can ever move out of my house or even walk to the shops again. It feels wrong and cruel. My symptoms have suddenly gotten much worse and I’ve developed new ones, and I honestly get more scared by the day.

Everyone else’s posts give me a tiny bit of hope for the future, I just hope I can one day live like everyone else does and not be weighed down completely by illnesses. It will be a slow road, but I just hope I can get there in the end.

Thank you for reading this to the end if you have, sorry if its just a jumble of words. ^^;

 

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Moxie G, MoxieGarrett, Pituitary Bio

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August 1, 2017:

It’s been 3 months since my surgery. I’m still trying to piece my story together.

I think it begins with the pregnancy and birth of my last child in 2012. After 3 exemplary pregnancies and home births, I never expected the cholestasis, a 36-week breech & manual turn, or a retained placenta and near fatal delivery. After successfully nursing 3 children, I struggled to produce enough milk and gave up after 3 months. I was ashamed of my inability to have a healthy pregnancy and nurse my baby. I tucked it away.

Normally a very thin and “bounce back” kinda person (5″8/130lbs), I was unable to entirely lose my baby weight and then noticed a gradual weight gain. My wedding rings no longer fit and when I went to get them resized, I was told my finger had changed by 2.5 sizes. I was embarrassed. I took them off.

My once angular face became puffy & round. I developed acne on my back and arms. Nothing healed. I started noticing dark facial and body hair on my blonde body. Normally a pink person, I didn’t really notice when my skin turned red. Normally easy to bruise, my new ones didn’t alarm me. Having not escaped my pregnancies without some stretch marks, I didn’t think much about the excess ones I was sporting. Always complaining of feeling cold, I now felt like I was overheating and wanted to rip my clothes off. My cuticles cracked and bled and I chalked it up to winters in Canada. Two of my teeth broke and I figured they were just weak… it runs in the family. My newly prescribed glasses made everything look fuzzier… oh well, I’ve always had poor vision. I attributed my alarming hair loss to post-pregnancy normalcy. I figured the continuing lactation was just a left-over indignity. Pretty sexy stuff.

People asked me on a regular basis when I was due. My abdomen was completely rounded, my breasts were huge, but I still had comically thin limbs. It felt like my body was open to judgement and commentary. I was ashamed of my new appearance. I made light of it.

I stopped attending social functions because I hated the way I looked. I couldn’t bear going through the process of trying to find something flattering to wear and then having to field questions about my uncharacteristic weight gain. I felt like I always had to explain myself. It was humiliating. I withdrew.

I had a pathological, insatiable thirst. Normally not a large beverage consumer, I was pounding can after can of whatever I could get my hands on. I planned every excursion around knowing where there were restrooms and where I could buy my next beverage. My sleep was interrupted hourly. It became a joke among my family & friends. I limited where I would go and who I would be around.

I oscillated between having super-human energy (16-18 hour self-imposed workdays) to being so bone-weary that I would fall asleep sitting up at my computer, mouse still in hand. When my symptoms began, I was working in senior positions in advertising agencies. It was a demanding & high-paced lifestyle. Also during this time, I left my career to open my own business. In the 5 years I was sick, I launched a successful childrens’ retail store. I assumed my exhaustion was a natural by-product of my workaholism. All working moms are this tired, right?

I couldn’t understand… I was functioning at a high level… 4 happy kids, a great marriage, a clean house, a successful business, I was even freelancing as a strategist on the side. Why didn’t I feel like myself? What was going on with my body? I surely couldn’t be ill. I was doing just fine. Look. See? I should just try harder.

I often said to my GP that I thought my hormones were outta whack. Nothing was severe enough to warrant a doctor’s visit or alarm. Everything was manageable but there were so many small, strange things happening that I was sure something was off. Eventually, she ordered blood tests. I carried the requisition around for almost a year. I thought I was overacting and wasting people’s time. In June 2016, I had a severe sinus infection and went to my doctor. Sheepishly, I promised to attend to the blood work I had been avoiding.

A week later, my doctor’s office called and told me to walk myself to the hospital emergency room. My sugars were 34 (Normal is 4-6, Coma is 16+). I didn’t know what this meant but was assured it was severe. I called my husband and we went out for dinner. I sent him and my daughter home and walked to the hospital.

I started to get an idea of how serious it was when the hospital staff rushed me in and started giving me insulin shots. No-one could understand why my sugars were so high and how my body was tolerating it without shutting down into a coma. They tried unsuccessfully for 24 hours to bring my sugars down to acceptable levels. With no history of family or gestational Diabetes, I was diagnosed with Type 2.

Dealing with this diagnosis was hard. It was my belief that only fat, lazy people with horrible lifestyles developed this disease. I went home and had to learn how to live like a Diabetic. I cut sugar completely out of my diet. We had to relearn how to grocery shop and cook. I had to start reading and understanding food labels. My husband made me disgusting quinoa muffins. Being a Diabetic became a full-time hobby. And the medications wreaked havoc on my digestive system.

The road to finding out what was causing the resistant Diabetes was in full throttle. I met dozens of doctors, nurses, technicians, and specialists. I had CTs, MRIs, X-rays, diabetes management & dietician appointments, urine tests, blood tests, hormone tests, pre-op & pre-admitting appointments, visual tests, Neuro-opthamology appointments, ENT consults, Endrocrinology reviews… It was constant and exhausting. I developed a deep hatred for medical tape.
So, Diabetes symptoms led to a Cushings Disease diagnosis, which eventually led to a pituitary tumour diagnosis. I had a 9mm Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing tumour. Surgery was booked. Jokes were made. All of a sudden, I needed everything about as much as I needed a hole in the head (They really did drill a hole in my skull. It’s held back together with glue!). But being diagnosed with a brain tumour was a relief. Something beyond my control was responsible for my current condition. I didn’t do this to myself because I was incompetent, lazy, or deserving. This was done to me and now we could try to fix it.

My surgery was booked at St. Michael’s Hospital with Dr. Cusimano here in Toronto for April 21. Due to a hospital error, my surgery was cancelled at the last minute and re-booked for May 1. After my family travelling here to be with me, getting my house in order, making arrangements for my store, childcare, packing my bags, saying cryptic goodbyes to my loved ones just in case, and even shaving my legs, I was crushed. I had mentally prepared and now I had to wait another 9 days and do it all over again.

Getting prepped for surgery was terrifying. I was in surgery for just over 3 hours and in intensive care for 3 days. I slept a lot during my immediate recovery. I had a bout of Diabetes Insipidus. But the good news? My cortisol crashed immediately. This assured everyone that the tumour was gone. The bad news? I felt like absolute garbage. My mom, my husband, my brother, and my best friend were there with me. I let them take care of me. I let them take care of everything.
Surgical recovery is manageable. Getting the stitches & stints removed from my nose was absolutely horrible and I had what I thought was a panic attack directly after the procedure. It really scared me (I now know it was my adrenalin crashing. My surgery has left me with an adrenal insufficiency which means my body cannot handle any stress, illness or injury.). Scar tissue has formed around one of my nostrils. It is affectionately known as “Mini Nostril”. And I can tell you that not blowing your nose for 3 months is one of the most annoying things in the universe. I went back to work 8 days after surgery. I shouldn’t have, but I’m a show-off. Everybody that sees me is stunned at the transformation thus far. My skin is a normal colour and I have lost nearly 30 lbs. People that knew me before I got sick say, “Welcome Back”. People that didn’t know me previously ask me if I am ok or don’t even recognize me.

Chemical recovery is terrible. My sugars are behaving more normally and I’ve been able to discontinue one of my three medications. I started my hormone weaning a few weeks ago and it is so hard. My latest blood tests show that my body is still not producing it. Every muscle and joint aches. I barely eat anything. I have headaches. It takes me hours to fall asleep. I’m dizzy. I’m weak. I’m exhausted. I’m not sure my digestive system will ever be right. I’m so tired of complaining. This will be my reality for at least a year.

But, I am hopeful. I know that I will heal. And most of all, I am grateful… for the love of my friends & family, the health of my children, the healthcare system of my country, and the chance to reset my life. I put my wedding rings back on yesterday. They fit.

(And what of that fucking tumour? The hospital adopted him. I had to sign papers and everything. You’re welcome, science.)

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Ren, Undiagnosed Bio

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Hi there. 27 year old female, never had kids. It’s been an awfully long couple years and I’ve been researching and reading all you lovely people’s bios on pituitary tumours, Cushing’s disease and Acromegaly for about that long.

My symptoms onset at a time where my lifestyle was out of control. I was drinking heavily, using drugs and didn’t have a care in the world. Or so I thought. At the time of my heaviest use (cocaine) I started having strange laundry list of symptoms.

Pressure headaches
Pain in my abdomen
Acid Reflux
Excess hair growth (abdominal, face)
Purple stretch marks on my abdomen
Weight gain of approximately 30lbs in a month (distributed in only my trunk/abdomen)
Swelling of arms, face (around eyes too) sore jaw, enlarged tongue (ridges on the sides, from my teeth)
Swelling of hands, feet & legs (increased foot size from size 7 to 8)
Exhaustion
Hair loss on scalp
Itchy, sensitive skin that looks very thin (see-through almost, blue veins very prominent all over body) skin redness as well, large pores. Dull eyes.
Fatty deposit on the back of my neck
Collar bones no longer visible
Diagnosed with anxiety, bipolar disorder and ADHD
Memory loss, brain fog
Irregular menstrual cycles and increased pain
Tunnel vision at times and blurred vision. Sensitivity to sunlight.

At the time, I was so messed up my perception of reality was pretty skewed. The combination of my lifestyle and all the symptoms mentioned above motivated me to get clean (a year and a half so far woohoo!) I knew something was wrong and I needed to figure out my baseline without substance abuse to get to the bottom of it. At my lowest point I met up with my parents who I hadn’t seen in a month and they commented on how different I looked. One of my friends from narcotics anonymous hooked me up with a great physician as I didn’t have a family doctor. I was determined to get to the bottom of all this.

When meeting with my new family doctor (after getting sober) all of the focus was put onto my recovery and mental health. Seeing as she didn’t know me beforehand she didn’t know the petite, energetic person I used to be. I voiced my concern about my physical changes as well as my mental ones. I was referred to a psychologist. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety and prescribed meds for all of the above. The interesting thing is I didn’t have these problems before the physical symptoms onset. This was followed by countless ER visits for panic attacks, being dismissed countless times for strange physical symptoms that every medical professional attributed to my history of drug use and mental health. I believed them at the time. I was also diagnosed with TMJ disfunction and started seeing a chiropractor and massage therapist with no improvement.

The year that followed was the most challenging of my life. I thought I was going crazy. I tried eating an extremely healthy dairy free, wheat free, exercising constantly with no change. Seeing various doctors, explaining my symptoms only to get basic bloodwork done and sent on my way. It wasn’t until I decided to get off my psychiatric meds and focus on finding a diagnosis for my physical ailments that things started to change. I visited the ER and the doctor on call actually listened, he referred me to a rapid assessment internist. To date I have had a thyroid panel, hormone panel, all basic bloodwork, thyroid ultrasound, abdominal and pelvic ultrasound, cortisol 8am test, 24 hour urinary cortisol- all came back within normal range. I have been tested for angioedema, (neg) referred to an allergist, dermatologist and endocrinologist.

When I saw the endocrinologist he basically said “I see people with your symptoms all the time and there is never a diagnosis, so you’ll probably have to live with this” I was instantly worried and heartbroken with that response. He ordered some tests, ACTH, another 24 hour urine, T3 T4, DHEA-SO4. I’m waiting on these results now. Saw my internist again after the endocrinologist as he also ordered a prolactin and ACTH test which I hadn’t obtained the results from yet. ACTH was slightly elevated as well as prolactin. (High) not by very much. He ordered a CT scan of my head which I have to wait a month for (he said possible hyper prolactinoma of the pituitary). I’ve asked to have my growth hormone (IGF-1) levels checked, endo says “nope you don’t have Acromegaly”

I am trying to stay strong but I’m on the verge of losing home based my business as I’m a hairstylist and am starting to develop tremors in my hands, I can barely get up in the morning, I feel as though no one understands what I’m going through. I have a sense of urgency within me to find a diagnosis, my body is screaming at me that something is very wrong. My symptoms above increase in severity by the day. Have any of you diagnosed with Cushings out there experienced only slightly elevated ACTH results or prolatcin? I was also curious if anyone has an enlarged/ swollen tongue as a form an ACTH secreting tumour, I’ve tried to find information on it but only points to an acromegalic symptom. Something inside of me is telling me this is either pituitary or adrenal related. I can’t help but wonder if my drug use somehow stimulated my pituitary.

My personal life is non existent, I have isolated myself from my friends who no longer reach out or accept me (even though I have attempted to confide in them). I feel as though everyone but my family thinks I’m completely out to lunch. Just want to thank everyone on this site for sharing their stories, when I’m feeling hopeless and at a dead end, reading your bios are the only thing that is keeping me going and pushing for a diagnosis!

 

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MaryO – Giving Thanks for Naps

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Adapted from this post: http://www.maryo.co/giving-thanks-day-6-october-23-2017/

 

 

Today I am thankful for naps, even longer than those on the chart above.  Ever since my Cushing’s days in the early 1980’s, I’ve needed long daily naps – like 3 hours each – to get through the day.

My endo says I’d have more energy if I took more Cortef, but when I do, I gain more weight.  Of course, I *might” have more energy to work off the weight.

<sigh>

So, I nap and I’m very thankful that I can arrange my life to accommodate my long naps.

I’m also thankful that

 

 

 

 

Lynne (jim4lynne), Steroid-Induced Bio

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My bushings has been caused by corticosteroids. I have been on steroids or 40years daily.for severe brittle asthma. I have been on prednisolone and iv steroids on hospital admissions for years. I did suffer from cushingoid symptoms caused by fluid but they settled as the steroids were reduced. About 4/5 years ago i was struggling with the extremely high doses of prednisolone so I was put on intramuscular Kenalog of 40ml/mg every 2 weeks. This was to be a short term fix but went on longer.

Unfortunately this was not monitored and reduced at all. Even though I was experiencing pretty obvious symptoms of bushings I could not gt anyone to look at this so I got worse and wore.

Eventually I saw my Resp Consultant on 4thJuly and got the diagnosis. This was a horrible relief.

Immediately I was put on a 2.5ml/mg education every 2 weeks to try to lower the cortisol levels.

Bit like closing the gate after the horse has bolted! To say this is hard is an understatement as what with the side effect from the cushing as everyone will know this is hell there is the withdrawal from the corticosteroids too. They all morph into one so I don’t know what is happening.

I have tried to get some answers from the medical profession but can’t get any information at all.

The Cushings side effect weight, stretch marks etc are still getting worse and I can only think that this is because I am still being loaded with steroids.

I appreciate that my bushings is caused by steroids and not a tumour but if any one has any advice how to cope with this I would be sooooooooo grateful.

All my best wishes to other sufferers.

 

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Paul M (Paul), Pituitary Bio

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Hi All,
I was diagnosed 4 years ago. I had extreme weight gain despite a very physically active life style. I would require less than 2 hours a night of sleep. Eat less than 1,000 calories per day and exercise 3-5 hours a day. I had the emotional swings as well. I would bruise or cut very easily. Doctor suspected Cushings after I displaced my knee cap for the second time due to Patella Tendonitis.

Months of testing resulted in what the doctors considered a low likelihood for positive outcome, the surgeon (supposed to be one of the best) agreed to remove the tumor either way. It was filling the Sella to the point it was pushing on my pituitary. It was wrapped around my optical nerve and would probably cause problems with my eyesight.

I was told that I would be back to work in 3 weeks.

Post Surgery my Cortisol levels never rebounded. The doc gave me 10mg of cortisol with no affect. Then they gave me 40mg and I could get up to go to the bathroom. Within an hour levels were back down to 3 (whatever).

They put me on 80/40mg of Cortisol for morning and noon each day. I still was basically unable to move. After 1 year. I was off cortisol and passed the suppression test. And still wasn’t losing weight, felt sick all the time.

It appears my anterior pituitary gland has not recovered. I don’t make enough TSH or the hormone to induce Testosterone. I took the Gel for testosterone with poor results. My thyroid tests are considered inconclusive. I try to feel out my thyroid dosage. Now I get testosterone implants. They seem better.

Basically put, four years later I feel almost as bad most days as before the surgery. Weight gain is still an issue. The major differences are, I sleep really well. I don’t bleed at the touch. My feet are very week, I could sleep 15 hours a day.

 

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Mary S (ladysslipper), Adrenal Bio

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Originally from December 28, 2007

I recently completed a clinical trial at NIH because of an adrenal nodule. I also have hyperplasia of both adrenals.

Turns out I have primary hyperaldosteronism (which had previously been diagnosed) as well as elevated cortisol. I was told I don’t have Cushings but could develop it. Yet I do have unbelievably excessive sweating and have just begun to develop what I assume to be a buffalo hump–a lump at the top of my spine between my shoulders that is hard to the touch and painful.

My ability to handle stress is nearly nil; I sleep upward of twelve hours and more a day and yet get exhausted doing the littlest things. I’ve lost a lot of weight over the past two years because of nearly daily diarrhea–which I now believe may be caused by a deteriorating liver as I also have Heptatis C–and yet I have a fatty paunch which is beginning to show stretch marks I didn’t know I had.

My skin heals poorly and bruises very easily. I have splotchy skin, i..e, dark patches and totally pigment-less patches on my face. I was told my hypothalamus produces too much CRH which, in turn, triggers the ACTH to produce too much cortisol.

With two, possibly three, chronic conditions, I am beginning to worry about returning to work after my medical leave of absence ends this January.

I was on the pheochromocytoma support board until my diagnosis, and I know how helpful it was to have a group to turn to. I’m glad to see this one looks like a similarly supportive and informative group.

 

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