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Jennifer's Story...

My name is Jennifer A. Belokon and I'm 23 years old. I have always struggled with my weight since I was in middle school. In middle school I hit a whopping weight of 187 lbs. by the time of 8th grade. But it seemed the less I ate and the more I worked out I stayed thin. By the time I hit 9th grade I dropped an amazing 40lbs. I was playing sports but to busy to eat. As high school went on I noticed I started bruising all over the place. But I could never understand why. Well I went on through high school, each year gaining more and more weight. I finally graduated high school at 165 lbs. After high school I went to one year on community coolege fighting with my weight. I worked out in the morning, and at night, every single day. I was also a huge runner and could run with no problems for at least 10 miles. After that one year of community college, I wasn't so sure about it.

I decided to join the Army. I went through basic with no problem, except I brusied with everything I did. I also had the freak accident of busting my shin open and getting 14 stitches in my right shin. After basic I went to my job training. That is where I started fighting with my weight even more. In training I did the every day Physical Training and I was ordered to do extra Physical Training after school. I did make it out of my job training with no problems. My first duty station I was sent to was Heidelberg, Germany. When I was in Germany for the first few months I had put on 20lbs. I just thought it was all the wonderful food they have over there. Then soon enough I got orders to Iraq.

In Iraq things started off okay. It was just becoming ust to different surroundings, the heat, and the long hour shifts. After a few months there, I was starting to get upset. I was having another medical condition that was starting to reappear again. It just seemed that my commander and my first sgt. didn't care. Then things got worse. My BDUs were getting harder to fit in, my stomach was getting strech marks all over it, and my face was getting huge too. I was also getting weak. for example when we first left Germany I could pick up my duffel bag with no problem but, by that time I couldn't. Plus my legs were getting so weak I couldn't push myself into a back of a Hmwvv. Of course it was a comical seen for my fellow soldiers, but and embarrassment for me. Also one day we were loading water boxes into a conex and by the end my arms were black and blue like someone beat me with a baseball bat. I finally decided to go to the doctor onour compound. I told him about my medical that was reoccuring. He told me I need to go home. So, I went back to my Commander and First Sgt. and asked them to send my home but they said no. Also they made me do extra Physical Activies just because I was becoming over weight. Then I finally went back to the Doctor and he decided to Med VAc me out of Iraq.

I was sent to Walter Reed Army Medicla Center where it was there I had Laser Surgery to take care of my one medical condition. Also, while you are there you take care of other medical problems you think you have. I went to go get my warts frozen off my knee when a doctor said "it looks like you have cushing syndrome". Now i have never heard or knew what cushings was. I also wnet to go to a blood checked because i was brusing so easily. they couldn't find anything wrong except my white blood count was a little low, I had extremely high blood pressure and my weight went up dramatically. I can't remember what my weight was then. The doctor really didn't know what was wrong. but he told me when I returned back to Germany to go to sick call and get my blood checked again and my blood pressure taken care of.

I went to sick call when I returned to Germany. I never really paid attention to the white blood thing, I just paid attentiont ot he high blood pressure. The nurse practitioner had contacted the doctor at Walter Reed. they both agreed to sent me to an internal medicine doctor. That doctor ran a series of blood test and talked to an Endocrinologist. Then I was sent to the Endocrinologist. With him I did the 24 hour urine test twice a week. I also gave lots of blood. Durin this time the doctor was talking to another doctor at Walter Reed. They had a teleconference and they both decided to send me back to Walter Reed Army medical Center.

When I go there I made my appointment with the doctor who was going to help me be done with this. After learning what the symptoms were, I now understand why I was getting a hump across my shoulders, stretch marks all over my stomach, feeling weak, and hopeless. There I went through many test such as the urine test again, adrenal sampling, lots of blood giving, bone density test, MRI's (during the MRI they found out I had broken a rib), CAT Scans, and lots of other test. During these few months I became embarrassed by the way I looked. I didn't know how I was going to be able to face my friends after they knew my as the athletic one. But, surprisingly all of my friends stuck with me and treated me the same way. After a few months of testing and being positive they diagnosed me with Cushing Syndrome. They knew I had it but had to make sure the best what was the best way to takw care of it. They figured out the best way to help me with this is to remove bothe adrenal glands. Both of my glands were doing some major over producing of cortisone. So, they schedule my surgery date for April 14, 2006. When I went into surgery I was at 235 lbs. My surgery was done laparoscopic. So, noe i have 5 poke hole scars on each side of my stomach. I've lost 35 lbs, and I take medication hydrocortisone, and fludicortisone. My self-esteem had approved greatly, and now I enjoy doing a lot of stuff i use to. Even though i"m still pretty heavy I have my face back, I don't have the hump and I feel 100% better. I'm also currently medically discharged from the Army.

Now I would just like to thank my doctors, my family, and friends who have supported me through this whole thing. to be honest i knew about this web sight when i first got cushing, because i saw it in the Free Lance-Star. I just never took the time to write my story.

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