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Brittany's Story

First off, I'd like to say that this website has been a blessing. I was refered here by a co-worker whos wife just had surgery to remove a tumor from her adrenal gland. Thank you all for sharing your stories, it makes it easier to know that I'm not the only one out there who's going through these problems!

I don't know exactly where to start. I've had severe fatigue for the last 4 years or so, and I've been treated for depression/bi-polar disorder/anxiety in that time period as well. I'm 25 years old, and I don't have any children. I was on the Depo Provera shot for birth control from '99 to late '04. When I went off the shot, I thought nothing about the fact that I wasn't having menstural periods, because it was something the doctors had warned me about. They resumed after about 6 months, but were very irratic or didn't come at all. I still wasn't concerned. I also noticed a little weight gain. Then, last October, I developed terrible cystic acne on my face. I've never, ever had a problem with acne before, so it alarmed me. Unfortunately, I don't have insurance, so I just blew it off and figured maybe it was part of getting older, or hormone changes, or something. I bought some Proactive, and waited for it to get better.

It didn't. (and still hasn't!) Then, in November, I woke up for my first day at a new job. I thought that my period had started, so I inserted a tampon and went to work. Within 45 minutes, I had bled through it. I inserted a new one, and 40 minutes later, I bled through that one so badly that when I stood up, bright red blood was just running down my legs. My cramping was terrible and the blood just kept coming, so an ambulance was called. The ER I was taken to had no idea what was wrong with me- they had never seen bleeding like I was suffering that wasn't miscarriage related (I was not pregnant). So, they stuffed me full of cotton and sent me to a women's hospital in another ambulance. Long story short, I bled so much in 4 hours that I needed 2 blood transfusions, and my blood pressure dropped to somewhere around 80/50 and my pulse was about 122. The doctor at the women's hospital gave me estrogen through the IV because she said that the bleeding was caused by hormones.

The bleeding stopped, and they were all set to release me the next day, when all the sudden, the bleeding started again. They gave me 4 times the estrogen I'd been given the day before, and gave me another transfusion. Meanwhile, my back and stomach pain were incredible. At this point, my mother flew out from Arizona to be with me. When she walked into the hospital room, she cried. My face had become so round and swollen and the acne was so bad, I looked nothing like myself. I guess I didn't realize how much I had changed in the 8 months or so it had been since I'd seen her. Anyway, I kept trying to get the doctors at the hospital to listen to me about all the strange symptoms I was having, but they didn't seem interested. Since I saw a different one every day, it was impossible to get an answer out of them! Because of the pain medication I was on, I had started writing down all my questions so I'd remember them when I saw a doctor- but when I tried, the last doctor I saw told me that he "didn't have time to answer all my questions, and I needed to find a general practicioner." He also admitted he hadn't even read my chart! But he felt justified in telling me that it was "hormonal". I understood that- but I wanted to know WHY it was hormonal. I'm only 25, and I shouldn't be having hormonal problems that cause something like that!

I was in the hospital for 4 days, and they never ran any tests on me. All they wanted to do was stop the bleeding so they could send me home. When I got home, my fatigue, irritability, acne, and overall aches and pains got worse. The only thing the hospital gave me was a prescription for birth control pills, and I was to take double the dose for a week to "straighten out my hormones". I knew there was something wrong, though. I just don't feel anything like myself anymore.

I made a follow-up appointment with an OB-GYN and tried to get him to listen to me. He blew me off, and said that it had to have been the Depo Provera (Which I had stopped taking more than a year before) causing all my problems. He looked a the huge infected boils on my face and told me they'd go away on their own! He even went so far as to suggest that since I had been treated for depression and anxiety in the past, maybe I was just imagining things. I was finally at my wit's end. It's a terrible feeling to KNOW that there's something wrong with you and to have the people who are supposed to take care of you tell you that it's all in your head.

When I flew home to Arizona for Christmas, I got a chance to see my family doctor. He is the most amazing doctor, ever. I've always been able to trust him, and it was such a relief to finally put a name to what was possibly causing some of my problems. As soon as I stepped foot in the office he suspected Cushings' because of how different my face looked to him.

So, I went down and had some blood tests done the following morning. I had a general health screening, ACTH plasma, cortisol AM, insulin fasting, prolactin, testosterone total, and ACG quantative. Based on the results from these tests, my Dr. does not think that it's a pituitary growth. He wants me to have an overnight dexamethasone suppression test, as well as a CT scan of my kidneys. I've made an appointment here in Tampa with an endocrinologist, and I see him on the 24th of January. Of course, since my insurance hasn't kicked in here at work, I have to pay out of pocket. And since there's NO WAY I can afford any further testing, I'll have to put those off until after March 1st. But it is nice to finally have some idea what could be wrong with me. I honestly had started to believe that I had lost my mind!

And I thank God every day that I had a wonderful doctor to fall back on in Arizona. I have a feeling that if I hadn't seen him, I'd still be getting the run around from doctors here in FL. I've read all the bios on this site, and it seems like most of you have suffered for years and years before anyone thought to look for this condition.

Just for reference, I thought I'd put up a quick list of my symptoms:
-extreme fatigue
-cystic acne that won't heal
-round, swollen looking face
-irregular heartrate
-lose breath quickly when exercising
-thinning hair
-muscle soreness
-haven't had a period for more than an hour or two since my adventure in the hospital back in November
-trouble concentrating
-memory loss (which could be related to the insomnia)
-joint pain

So far I haven't noticed much wieght gain or any stretch marks, but I'm terrified of having that happen. I'm so sick of being exausted and in pain, of being sad and worried all the time. I can't wait until I can finish my testing and find a solution for these problems.

If anyone would like to talk about their experiences, feel free to email me at

You are all in my thoughts and prayers!

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