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April T's Story...

My Symptoms

I am writing this in order to help me keep up with all the symptoms that I have been going through over the last 2 and a half years. Over that time period I have seen over 10 doctors all with their own theories and so far no relief. I am 22 years old, 5 foot 3 and weigh a whopping 240 lbs and climbing.

The most noticeable symptom that I have is obviously severe weight gain. To understand what I mean by severe, I should probably start from the beginning. All of my life from the time that I was 7 years old, I have been an athlete. In high school I started on the varsity volleyball, softball, basketball, and tennis teams. I ran the mile, threw the discuss and shot put in track and ran cross country. I was never tiny, but an overall very athletic average built female.

All throughout high school I weighed between 120 and 135 lbs. I first noticed a slight increase in weight my freshman year of college, chalked that up to the infamous “freshmen 15”. I didn’t really know what had caused the weight gain because I was playing volleyball at college and was still conditioning. That year I gained about 10 lbs which left me to hover at about 140 lbs.

My sophomore year of college I met my now husband. We got married in March of 2004 and when we married I weighed 145 lbs. Two months after we got married in May I was in an automobile accident which left me unable to exercise for a period of 3 weeks. It was at this time that I noticed the stretch marks. One morning I got out of bed and after getting out of the shower I noticed a purplish-pink spot on my stomach. As I looked at it closer I realized that it was a stretch mark. The next day there were more and within 5 days time my abdomen and hips were completely covered with these stretch marks that were very wide and deep. At night when I would take off my shirt I would find blood on the inside from the stretch marks, where they were so thin that they would bleed through the thin skin of the stretch mark. This happened a lot.

It was also at this time that I started to get migraines, not too often at this time. Maybe once a week, but they were so bad that I couldn’t get out of the bed. This was over the summer while I was out of college. In August I had a ob/gyn appointment for a regular pap smear. When I was weighed I was astonished to find that I weighed 165 lbs. I had had irregular periods most of my adolescent life and felt no urge to tell a doctor about the irregularity. I received a call the next day and the doctor instructed that my pap had come back abnormal, went in to the doctor and found out that I had cervical dysplasia in stage 4. The doctor wanted to have surgery immediately.

On August 20th, 2004 I underwent a cold knife cone biopsy surgery where a dime size portion of my cervix was removed. Again I was put on limited physical activity. I had surgery one week prior to beginning my school semester. The first week I had to set out of class to complete my two week period because all my classes were physical education, because I was going to school to be a PE teacher. I was sure that my six intense cardiovascular classes would help to loose the weight that I had gained after the car wreck. That wasn’t the case.

At my one week follow-up after surgery I had gained 11 lbs and now weighed around 176 lbs. I couldn’t believe how much weight I had gained in one week without changing my eating habits at all. The next follow-up four weeks from the surgery I weighed 185 lbs. I was furious, I didn’t know what to do. I was dieting and exercising a lot and the weight continued to creep on.

I went to my family doctor with a list of my symptoms, he had no idea and really did nothing to help. Told me to diet and exercise. I did that I had 8 hours three days a week of physical activity and the other days I went to the gym for two hours each day. I kind of let time slip away, with work and school I didn’t pay a lot of attention until none of my clothes would fit anymore. I went back to my medical doctor and when I weighed it was almost 200 lbs., my eyes filled up with tears because I had been trying so hard to lose weight and still the scales went up.

That visit is also when the doctors noticed that my blood pressure was going up. It was 140 over 108 and my pulse was racing at 115 beats per minute. Since that time my blood pressure hasn’t been below 130 over 90 and my resting pulse rate is between 95 and 120. Over time the headaches continued to get worse until I couldn’t even function. I began to get stretch marks under my arms, on my breasts and on my legs. The hair on my legs is very thick and black and grows very rapidly. I have to shave every day or it is unbearable, the hair under my arm is the same way. My eyebrows will nearly grow together if they aren’t tweezed at least once a week and I have to use facial hair removal cream for my moustache. I have severe fatigue, it is so hard to get up in the mornings and go an entire day without a nap. My leg muscles are severely weak. I find it hard to step up onto something higher than an average stair step and it is nearly impossible for me to get up from the ground without using my arms. All this time I still haven’t even had a period.

The next time I went to the doctor I weighed 224 lbs, did a thyroid test 3 different times it always came back negative. At this point I weighed so much I was miserable and began to sink into depression. I tried to exercise harder but it only made me bigger. After walking my legs and butt would build up like a body builders and become huge. I started having more problems with my heart. I could feel my heart beat very loudly in my chest and sometimes it would beat so hard I could feel it in my stomach.

I began to notice the change in my appearance. My face became very full and the fat pad developed between my shoulder blades. I started noticing bruises on my body with no recollection of how they had gotten there. Insect bites would take weeks to fully heal. Next I started getting intense acid reflux, or I guess that is what it was. After I would eat it would feel like the food wouldn’t go down. It almost felt like the food was sitting at the top of my esophagus. At night I would wake up from my sleep with vomit in my mouth from the food coming back up. I would literally wake up choking on my own vomit. From time to time I would have intense stomach cramps so severe that all I could do is double over and not move, this is the only thing that would help the pain. Fortunately, this has only happened 4 or 5 times.

One ER doctor that I seen treated me for a bowel obstruction. He prescribed me three full bottles of the pre-surgery liquid in a bottle, along with other various types of laxatives. I took all of them within 24 hours and did not have a bowel movement, so I went back to the ER. The next doctor said that he was wrong and referred me to an endocrinologist after testing me and diagnosing me with Cushing’s.

When I met the endocrinologist he immediately said the Cushing’s was too rare for me to have and said that he wouldn’t even test me for it. He ran a series of tests and diagnosed me with PCOS. For this he treated me with 3- 500 mg glucophage pills a day to control the insulin in my body. I will admit that the glucophage did cause me to have a period and then a second period came three weeks later than it should have, but there was one. This was the only thing that it has helped.

I was put on a 1600 calorie a day diet and exercise program. My doctor informed me that I should lose 5 to 10 lbs. the first week and 1 to 3 each week after that if the medication was working. I stuck to the diet and exercised 2 hours per day 5 days a week and still I am gaining weight. This is where I am at now.

After I started taking the glucophage I notice my vision beginning to deteriorate. In one years time I have moved from an eye prescription of -4.50 to -6.75. I don’t know how much further I can go before going blind. I have extreme tenderness in my breasts which are painful to the touch and the cramps from my periods are so bad that I don’t move if I don’t have to. I now weigh 240 lbs and looking back I don’t know how I got here. I have done everything that I am supposed to and I can’t fix what is happening to my body. I am severely depressed and have no energy, yet I still push myself to always do my workouts.

What is so sad to me is to look back on the pictures of the person I used to be only 2 1/2 years ago and to wish so badly that I was still there. Too many people will try to lay all of this on simple weight gain, but I know this isn’t the case with me, because I know what I eat and how I exercise and there is no way that I should continue to gain weight. The weirdest part is that most of the symptoms started before the major weight gain, even the stretch marks came up before I put on any of the weight.

Please help me, whatever is going on with me is ruining my life. I am ashamed to be seen in public. If anyone has any suggestions please e-mail me back. I can’t find anyone to help me.

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