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Ashleigh's Story

My name is Ashleigh, and I'm a 22-year-old Marine wife of three years.

As long as I can remember, I was always the skinny kid. Too skinny, even. Weighing in between 110 and 115 pounds at 5' 3", I could lose weight just by thinking about it, and NEVER imagined that I would gain weight. But I did! It seemed to start exactly on my 19th birthday. It started with just a few pounds, but despite dieting and going to the gym, I gained 50 lbs in one year. I also stopped ovulating and having periods, and my hair began to change texture. My once super-thick and soft locks were becoming thin and brittle. I'd always had a little trouble with acne, but it was becoming out of control, and I had started growing hairs on my upper lip and chin - dark, coarse ones that I furiously plucked each morning.

I also noticed that I was developing these hideous magenta stretch marks on my sides at my hips, and down my legs. Progressively, the hair growth got worse and I developed dark hair on my abdomen as well. I was urinating a lot and experiencing insomnia, but extreme fatigue during the day. I also could NOT get pregnant. Eventually, all my symptoms were attributed to PCOS, and I was started on a high dose of Metformin (aka "Glucophage"). My husband left on deployment around this time (Jan 2007), and between the medication and going on the Nutrisystem diet, I managed to lose 22 pounds.

After I went off the diet, I gained back a few pounds but nothing terribly significant. My husband returned home in Jan 2007 and we resumed trying to start a family, but to no avail. A few months ago, I noticed that I had begun to gain the weight back despite being on weight watchers to LOSE weight, and that the acne and hair growth were becoming worse! To top it off, my hair was beginning to thin in the pattern of male-pattern-baldness. I was scared, believing my PCOS to be out of control, and asked my gynecologist to refer me to an endocrinologist.

I had my appointment last Tuesday. I told the doctor about my PCOS diagnosis, and about all my other symptoms, too. I am constantly tired no matter how much sleep I get (I had 10 hours last night and a 2 hour nap this afternoon, and here I sit, still completely exhausted). I told him about how I bruise easily, and how my nails are weak and my skin is dry. ( I did neglect to mention the stretch marks and Anxiety diagnosis, wishing now that I had). He told me that he doesn't trust my PCOS diagnosis and wants to test me for Cushings. I was shocked and had to tell him that my mother is being tested for the same thing! I do not have some of the classic symptoms, however - my blood pressure is always low (104/60 on most days), and I carry my weight in my hips and bottom, not my middle. I also do not have moon-face or a buffalo hump - in fact, my upper body is quite thin.

I just went in for my blood tests today and will be doing my 24 urine test tomorrow. He also ordered an ultrasound to confirm or deny the PCOS diagnosis. I am hopeful and scared. It would be nice to have a definite diagnosis and treatment plan, but I'm also afraid of what a future with Cushings could mean.

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