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Adrienne's Story

I am a 21-year-old aspiring singer and college student who has been recently diagnosed with Cushing's Syndrome. It was hard to believe most problems I suffered growing up related to this disease, in which I will explain in my story.

I showed signs of anxiety from when I started preschool. I came across as shy, quiet, and afraid to make friends. Because of this, I went to two preschools. All throughout elementary school, every one of my teachers said I was a good student, but I was always quiet. My anxiety got worse starting in middle school. I started becoming paranoid about every little ache and pain I had. I would worry about every disease in the book for no reason. This was annoying to my parents. Also, my teachers noticed that I have been crying a lot, which raised concerns. I was prescribed with Buspar, which helped me for a while. But my anxiety carried me throughout high school and college. So I was put on Zoloft and a higher dosage of Buspar. It seemed to work for a while, but the same habits continued on.

Speaking of habits, I'll admit I didn't have the best diet in the world. I'm a picky eater, and I snacked on mostly junk food, which can affect my weight. In elementary and middle school, I had a decent figure. I wasn't thin, but I wasn't heavy either. But around my junior year of high school, I started to put on weight. I thought maybe it's because I was sad my sister was leaving for college and I missed her. Throughout the rest of high school and the beginning of college, I was gaining more weight. Around my sophomore year of college, I noticed stretch marks on my abdomen. I was afraid to say something to my parents because the'll say how I eat nothing but garbage food, which is true, but I didn't need to hear it. Comparing my old photos, I also noticed my face was getting rounder and was appearing much larger in recent photographs. I was so embarrassed I couldn't bear to look at them, let alone have my picture taken.

By Christmas 2006, I weighed close to 200 lbs. At 5'2'', this was not good for me. So I decided to get serious and lose the weight. I changed my eating habits completly and working out 3-4 times a week at the gym. It was going well at first, but after five months, I haven't lost more than 10 lbs. In fact, I was gaining some of it back. I also noticed that I have been taking frequent naps and wasn't interested in activities that I once enjoyed. This was not like me, and I knew in my heart there was something else wrong with me.

Well, something was wrong with me, one day in May. I asked my dad to rub my shoulders. As he was rubbing them, he noticed a lump on the back of my neck. He thought it was a fatty tumor or swollen muscle. My grandfather, a retired physician, suggested getting blood tests to be safe. So we made an appointment with our family physician. When the physician was examining my neck, he ordered a series of blood tests, including a 24-hour urine test. When the tests came back, it was revealed that my cortisol level was high, so I was referred to an endocrinologist. That was when I was diagnosed with Cushing's Syndrome. The good news is, it's curable. The bad news is, I have to get surgery. This was the part I was dreading. I've had surgery before, but it wasn't a pleasent experience. After more tests, plus an MRI and CAT scan, it's determined that I have a 7 mm tumor in my pituitary gland. So basically I'm going to have brain surgery.

My parents and I looked up Cushing's online and was fascinated by what we saw. The symptoms include round face, weight gain, anxiety and depression, extreme fatigue, stretch marks, buffalo hump (which was that "lump" in the back of my neck), and more. This means all these problems I had growing in some ways related to Cushing's.

I'm thrilled we were able to solve the problem and are on our way to curing it. But one thing remains a mystery: how long have I had this tumor? As a young adult, I wondered what my potential dress size would be if I didn't have Cushing's. Once I'm cured, I will find out, and that's the fun of it!

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