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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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Nicole, Undiagnosed Bio

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My name is Nicole, currently 19 years old. I’m a student at The Juilliard School in New York studying Dance. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to reach out to this community, I have certainly been stalking and researching this disease for months now… I guess I’m ready now to share my own story, especially since I feel more hopeless and alone than ever before.

July 2015— It all started about two years ago. I was only 17 and very much in peak-performance shape. I looked and felt like an athlete training to be a professional ballet dancer. I prided myself for my toned body, which is very very important in the dance world. I think I weighed about 103 lbs at a height of 5’4″.

But that summer I noticed it became increasingly difficult for me to fall sleep at night. I would sometimes stay up until 3 or 4 AM when I knew I had to be up at 6 or 7 AM for a full 8 hour day of dancing. I started to stress eat a lot as well and by the end of summer I blamed myself when I had gained back all the weight I had worked to lose the previous year, plus some. I think I was about 114 lbs by the end of August.

Around this time I also sought out a Naturopathic doctor for the first time at the suggestion from a friend to help me treat an underlying anxiety disorder. I was given supplements, and for a while my health improved considerably. I felt more calm and sane than ever before in my entire life. But that didn’t last long. I continued to steadily gain weight during my senior year, always going on extreme fad diets to try to maintain. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not.

March 2016– By the time Spring rolled around I was really starting to notice a difference in my appearance. My face had begun to swell and I began to wonder if maybe my weight was out of my control. Maybe there was an explanation for my struggles and failed efforts. So I began researching hypothyroidism, since it runs in my family, and I went to my primary care doctor to ask for the first tests. Little did I know this would be the beginning of a long and defeating marathon.

My doctor initially treated me like I was crazy. Saying that if anything I was still underweight and that I should be concerned about my primary amenorrhea (I had still never had a period). But he did the tests and the results came back suggesting hyperthyroidism. I was confused because all my symptoms suggested otherwise. Nevertheless I was shipped off to an endocrinologist who was of little help to me throughout the summer while I continued to dance and went away for a summer intensive in Chicago.

June 2016– While in Chicago my weight just ballooned even more. I admit I did gain muscle but that was thanks to the rigorous amount of training I was doing at the time. I definitely didn’t look right though. My muscles were buried under a layer of fat, no tone was visible, and my puffy face made me look like a stranger to friends when I returned home. I tried various thyroid replacement hormones at low doses, desperate to get my body back.

August 2016– I had returned to my Naturopath in the hopes she could finally diagnose me with hypothyroidism. She did, and in fact she discovered I have Hashimoto’s, which explained the fluctuating levels. She put me on NaturThroid before saying goodbye as I departed for my Freshman year of college at The Juilliard School.

September 2016– My health improved a short while. I lost some of the puffiness on my face, dropped some weight, but settled around 117 lbs. This only lasted about a month.

October 2016– By October things turned for the worst. I felt only weaker the more I pushed myself each day. My muscles weren’t allowing me to dance at the same capacity as I once had, I was embarrassed by my short comings, especially being surrounded by so many talented individuals. My weight started rapidly increasing now. I regained the puffiness around my face and neck, and my weight went from 117 to 126 in a matter of a month.

I was referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist who thought I had PCOS and put me on metformin. To her credit, I did fit the profile. I complained of rapid weight gain, I had slightly elevated testosterone, and I had a few small cysts on my ovaries. But there were also things that didn’t fit the bill. Like my apparent lack of Estrogen, which is usually elevated in PCOS. And that I had never had a period before. I also showed no signs of pre-diabetes.

January 2017– After winter break I really could no longer put a stop to my weight gain. No matter what, it just went up. I tried cutting carbs, sugar, and calories to below 1,200 a day, all while dancing 6-8 hours a day and my weight only went up.
Metformin didn’t work. Repro. Endo. put me on estrogen and progesterone for a while, but I stopped seeing her eventually because she didn’t listen to me and ignored my qualms about weight.

I also grew very very depressed around this time and began to wonder if this was the end of my dance career. I was starting to look like a joke in classes. I mourned my body. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.

May 2017– After months of research I began to wonder if I might have Cushing’s disease. I had the stretch marks on my butt and thighs, the filling in of fat around the collar bone, neck and jawline. Rapid weight gain, fatigue, depression, angry outbursts, and flushed cheeks. I do not have central obesity, but my weight has always tended to go to my butt and thighs. Though for the first time ever I begin to form a muffin top and fat on my arms. Cellulite appeared everywhere when I stretched my skin even a little bit, very odd to see cellulite on your knees! I had swollen legs too.
I now weighed 135+ lbs.

June 2017– When I got home for summer break my mom and I saw Neuro Endocrinologist Dr. Kevin Yuen at Swedish Pituitary Center. He listens to me, the first doctor to really listen! And he began testing.
Four 24/hr urine, 4 midnight salivary cortisol, 1 dexamethasone suppression test, 1 dex-CRH test, 1 Pituitary MRI.

July 2017– (current weight = 147 lbs) After a visit with Dr. Yuen and weeks of speculation he concludes there is only a 50/50 chance I have Cushing’s. Test results are as follows:
-2 mildly elevated 24/hr urines
-2 normal 24/hr urines
-3 elevated midnight salivary cortisols
-1 completely normal midnight salivary cortisol
-normal response (suppressed) after low dose dexamethasone
-normal response to Dex-CRH
-normal MRI

I’m disappointed to say the least that there is not more resounding evidence that I have this disease. I feel so certain that I have it. My body and mind are changing so rapidly I just want to cry every day. It’s so bad I don’t think I can return to school in the fall. I may have to take a year off of dance if I don’t get my body back in shape by the fall. And a year off of training could ruin me!!

Dr. Yuen suggests doing a hospital stay at Swedish to conduct further testing, particularly midnight serum cortisol, to see if more positive results might outweigh the normal results. I guess he wonders if I did something to mess up the cortisol response in some of the tests, though I don’t see how I could have! I’ve barely done anything this summer, definitely nothing exciting. I’m home-bound because I feel so depressed.

I don’t go to ballet classes anymore because it’s too painful to see myself in the mirror and try to dance in a fat suit. None of my clothes fit anymore. I just don’t feel like a young attractive woman like I used to. Not to mention my energy is out the window.

I haven’t quite given up yet! I eat a very limited paleo diet that omits grains and sugar (except those naturally occurring). I try to swim at least every other day and keep up with my pilates and stretching. It’s not the same though.

I might give up if after the hospital stay, the tests come back normal and I’m told I do not have Cushing’s, when I don’t see how it could be anything else!

I just want my life back.

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Renee (rmaxwell), Undiagnosed Bio

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Originally posted December 5, 2008

My symptoms began when I was about 21 years old. At the time I worked as a Martial Art instructor so I was very physical and in good shape, weighing about 120lbs. Suddenly, and I do mean SUDDENLY, I gained about 60lbs or so. It was as if my clothes fit one night and then didn’t fit in the morning. The weight is mostly in the middle area. My face shape changed and I developed a second chin almost.

I also started getting some whiskers on my chin and neck. Not a lot, just a few, but it was strange.

I was under great stress at the time because I had lost both of my parents in the same year, to two different medical things. So as you can imagine, it was very difficult for me. I developed extreme fatigue, and anxiety attacks. Friends were sure all my physical and mental symptoms must be from depression over losing my folks. One friend advised I see a psychiatrist, so considering everything it sounded reasonable, and I did.

I was placed on Paxil, which caused me to gain even more weight. Since then I’ve tried so many antidepressants I can’t even begin to name them. I went through many SSRI’s, then SNRI’s, then tricyclic, and most recently as a last resort an MAOI.
But in spite of this, over the years my depression has only gotten worse. I’ve had two suicide attempts and been hospitialized a few times. My depression seems to follow a pattern or cycle, two weeks of barely being able to function, followed by a week of doing a little better, then a day or two of feeling good, then back to two weeks of misery, etc. I am not bipolar or anything like that.

I continued to gain weight, developed stretch marks on my belly and arms, got a lot of dark hair all over my belly, and the few whiskers that appeared on my chin and neck have become like a beard. I developed insulin-resistance, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. I can seldom sleep at night. I experience such deep depression and fatigue that I haven’t been able to keep a job or finish collage, I barely function.

For many years I just thought I had really bad depression and continued trying whatever psych meds I was prescribed. I thought all my physical symptoms were my fault for being so depressed and not getting enough excercise, etc. And most of the time, I was on so much medication I didn’t really care, I was so out of it.

Finally I found a great psychiatrist who truly cares about me and wants to see me happy. After having little or no success treating my depression, fatigue, and panic attacks, she did some research and told me not long ago that she felt I must have something biological going on with me that wasn’t any type of clinical depression. She said she had tried hitting all the different receptors in my brain (seretonin, norephinepherine, dopamine, etc..) and I should have responded to something. She suggested I might have Cushing’s Syndrome. I went online to find out about Cushing’s and I was like “Wow I really match a LOT of these things!”

Now I am on quest for getting tested. It’s difficult as I do not have any health insurance. But I am making a little progress and hope I start to get some answers soon.

I either have Cushing’s syndrome, some other endocrine problem, or the most treatment-resistant depression ever.

That’s my story, thanks for reading. I’m open to any comments or advice.

-Renee

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