Thursday, June 18, 2009

Patricia (Patricia Hallam), adrenal bio

There is a Program on the Discovery Health Network called “Mystery Diagnosis”.

Of the many Conditions featured one thing stands out to me - diagnosis of the various mystery ailments and diseases is often lengthy [ years pass by] – complicated by many variables and extremely frustrating to the patients and their families. What a relief it is for a patient to finally get an accurate diagnosis especially when the patient has been told for years that their complaints may be all in their heads or of their own making. So it has been for me – so many of my symptoms have mimicked other conditions each of them being addressed individually and not really considered to be a result of a bigger or larger problem.

After my right Thyroid gland and the mass on it was removed in the 1980’s I developed weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and energy issues. I found that exercise and diet would not and could not control my weight gain. I was active and watched what I ate but I packed on the pounds and the inches. I considered myself fit but fat. In 1998 when I quit smoking I developed type II Diabetes and put on an additional 50 pounds catapulting me into the morbidly obese category. By the turn of the Century I weighed 209 pounds on a 5’ tall frame [I am now a grand 4’10” tall], My Diabetes was poorly controlled and my body was deformed by the fat. I was a candidate for a heart attack or a stroke and I battled with depression and frustration.

I joined an internet Diabetes support group to learn about how to deal with the Diabetes and purposed to focus on improving my health. One day a group member bid the group fairwell because she had had Gastric Bypass surgery and she was no longer a diabetic. This surprised me as I had been told there was no cure for Diabetes and here she was claiming a cure. Being a natural research nut I immediately began to research the surgery and found that not only does it CURE DM II it also cures a host of other medical issues such as Asthma [to which I was prone], fatty liver, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. All things I was living with. I found an excellent Bariatric surgeon and on October 1st 2002 he performed a form of gastric bypass surgery called a Biliary Pancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Diversion or BPD/ DS for short that allowed me to retain a functioning but smaller stomach and I was soon on the road to a smaller healthier me. My Diabetes disappeared, and I no longer had any of my former problems with the exception of the high blood pressure that remained an issue. All the medications I had been on were now discontinued but the blood pressure meds were still needed.

By 2006 I reached a weight level that was perfect for me. I went from a size 26 or 3X to a slim 8/10 and I felt and looked better than I had for many years. Life was good and God had given me a second chance to live a healthy life and enjoy His creation. In 2006 I had an incisional hernia repair and in the aftermath of that surgery I entered into a period of unusual symptoms of bloating and weight gain. Unusual because I never changed my eating habits and I seemed to be returning to that fit but fat condition. My surgeon who monitored my post op condition every 6 months ran a battery of tests and sent me for a CT scan. That test revealed that I had a mass on my right adrenal gland. He sent me to see an Endocrinologist who initially decided to watch and see what developed. Over the past year we watched and discovered that the mass, aka an adrenal adenoma had grown, and my symptoms were increasing as was my weight and size.

On Tuesday June 16th 2009 I was officially diagnosed as having CUSHINGS SYNDROME. A rare condition with less than 5 people out of a million being diagnosed with it. Cushings caused by Adrenal Adenomas are ever rarer since the majority of Cushings Patients suffer from Pituitary tumors. I am now scheduled to see an excellent Laprascopic Surgeon at the Lehigh Valley Hospital and God willing he will be able to remove the damaged adrenal gland with tumor and I should be well on the road to a reversal of symptoms and a return to good health by the time our expected grand baby arrives in late August.

The Endocrinologist explained to Hank and I that this tumor has caused my right adrenal gland to pump high levels of cortisol into my system effectively shutting down the pituitary gland and wreaking havoc on my body. Once the tumor and gland are removed the Pituitary needs to “wake up” and resume control of my hormone output and encourage my remaining adrenal gland to take over the cortisol regulation. In the meantime I will be on artificial hormones or steroids. It can take from 6 months to a year for things to return to normal.

That is my story so far but I am extremely happy to know what has been happening to me and to know that this is reversible.

Email Patricia

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