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Erica's Story...

Like most of these bios, mine starts with a list of unusual symptoms and years of unanswered questions. At this point I don’t remember a time that I didn’t wake up with nausea; I just measure it in levels of severity now.

Somewhere around 1998 I started getting the severe headaches. I was told that I had developed migraines and began the trial & error process with different medications. The next symptoms started over the following year or two. “Floaters” as the doctor called them and vertigo. The floaters they attributed to ocular migraines and really gave no treatment suggestions. In the year of 2001-2002 I gained 60 lbs. I went from being a size 6 to a size 14 almost over night. When I asked my doctor about it she said it was due to my change in occupation (blue collar to desk job) and the birth control that I was taking. She added that the increase in headaches could also be due to the hormones in the birth control. So I got more exercise, drank more water, cut out the junk food, anything I could think of.

By 2003 I was starting to notice more nausea, vertigo and some memory problems, especially short term. My doctor had indicated she felt this was most likely stress induced and since none of these symptoms appeared to be that serious I just told myself to buck up & keep moving. Right around the same time I started to notice all the stretch marks. They seemed to be appearing out of no where: on my stomach, arms, thighs, butt and breasts. It was very discouraging, but I told myself “hey, you have gotten fat, what did you expect?”. My IBS symptoms were flaring up, but once again I was told this was due to the stress of my job.

October 2004 my husband took a new job in West Virginia. We had been living in Reno, NV. Since the cost to move the entire family was very high & I had a good paying job in Reno we decided he would go ahead of me & get things set up there. I followed him to West Virginia in June 2005. At this point I was experiencing severe fatigue and now was having problems with my menstrual cycle. I found an internal medicine doctor in Pittsburgh and explained all my symptoms. After the first round of testing she told me I had PCOS, and put me back on birth control. After the second round of blood work she announced that I was insulin resistant, gave me a prescription for glucophage and told me to come back in 2 months. No real explanation as to what this diagnosis was or what it meant to me.

I quickly found a new PCP. At my very first visit with this Doctor she asked if anyone had ever mentioned “Cushing’s” to me. I must have given her a blank stare since her next statement was something along the lines of it being a rare condition, that I shouldn’t worry she just wanted to rule it out and she wanted me to see an endocrinologist. (By the way, I have now learned that “rule it out is dr-esse for it doesn’t look good;) By the time I left the office I had my consult appointment and an order for another list of blood tests. At the endocrinologist I was informed that I am in fact a diabetic. As for which condition came first (the tumor or the sugar) they don’t seem to know. The endocrinologist did all the usual cortisol tests: the suppression tests, the 24 hour urine catch and the ATCH levels. After about a month & half of running back & forth to the lab she was satisfied that the source was a pituitary tumor. I had my MRI on May 17, 2006. On the MRI they were able to identify a 1cm tumor. I was then referred to a highly recommended neurosurgeon in Pittsburgh. I saw him in consult on Wednesday May 24, 2006. He confirmed everything that my endocrinologist had told me the previous week.

The plan is to have the endoscopic pituitary surgery on 7/6/06. (That was the first available surgery slot that he had.) The waiting is less than wonderful, but he came so highly recommended that I figured I could cope for a couple more weeks….I’ve lasted this long! In the mean time I have been wrestling with some kidney stones. 3 to be exact. Of course with my luck they are too big to pass so I am having lithotripsy to take care of that issue next week. I rather feel like that old saying when it rains it pours…

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