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Laurie's Story

I have always been a healthy active beautiful woman. At 49 years old I had a great figure being 34-22-34, and I never had a weight problem in my life. When I was pregnant with my son in 1984 my maximum weight went to 153, and 2 weeks later, I was in a bikini--no stretch marks.

That was then, this is now. Within the last 3 years, my mother was murdered, my 17 year old son died in a car accident, and I became severely depressed and was put on antidepressants. I saw a psychiatrist and was dealing with all of this--I lost my job, and I was already divorced, so I lost my condo, and became dependant on the state and disability. I live in subsidized housing and receive a Social Security check. Ok, so my health starting slipping at a gradual pace. I went through menopause very early at 49-it just stopped.

My weight was 112 lbs, and my height as always was 5'4 1/2" , but I noticed my jeans were getting very tight on me and my breasts were enlarging. I thought that was peculiar, but after a few months, my sister aid to me, you are really putting on weight and I was, because I could barely get my "fat" jeans zipped up. I was also getting plump in the face, and my body was aching in my joints and I was tired all the time.

I went to my physician and he gave me a full physical and said I was in good health, and blamed it on depression (in fact, for three years most of my ailments were blamed on my family losses due to depression). I was also diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, and anxiety syndrome of which I'm on medication for.

As I gained weight, I noticed it was all in my upper and lower belly and hips, and my breasts, but my arms and legs remained thin. It looked and still looks like I'm 9 months pregnant. None of my clothes fit, I used to be a size 2, 4 or 6---now I'm in a size 14-16 (I'm so grossed out by myself that I refuse to buy any more clothes). I'm so uncomfortable and bloated I feel that I could jump right out of my skin. My skin is dry and itchy, and I can't regulate my body temperature, and I have heartburn all the time because the bloating is up to my diaphram and I have acid reflux now. My knees are so bad they give out on me from the weight, but a rheumatologist told me I have fibromyalgia, because all my joints ache all the time. My rib cage feels like it's going to burst. I have tingling in my hands, and a cricket noise in my ears when I wake up from sleep. I totally feel like I'm going insane. The latest is that I smell nail nail polish remover.

But the last and final symptom started in the beginning of December, and scares me to death.

One morning I woke up and both of my legs, ankles and feet were swollen, of which I found out that it's called pitting edema--meaning that whwen you push down on your skin, it leaves a dent! My doctor has done every test to find out where it's coming from, everything from Venus Doplar for blood clots, and CT scans. Everything has turned out negative. So now I've got shoes that don't fit me as well as clothes that don't fit and absolutely no answers----and I am miserable. Now I cry because I can barely move around, and I look in the mirror and I don't recognize who that person is staring back at me. I"ve NEVER been so scared in my life.

It sounds crazy, maybe not, but I was watching Medical Mysteries, and one person (**)said if you're not getting the right answers for your problem then go to another doctor and keep going until you find out what's wrong with you!

So, I called an Endocrinologist, and he examined me and heard my story, and said, "I am almost positive you have Cushing's". So it's February 7th, and I'm waiting for the test results, and I'm just afraid he's going to say you don't have it, because then what do I do?

**This was Sharmyn McGraw, member of the Message Boards, patient advocate. She has appeared on TV and other media discussing Cushing's several times.

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