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Nick's Story

I was at the allergist one day (like many things I can’t remember the exact date) and I mentioned that my ribs had been hurting for a while. He had me get an X-ray and when the results came back he said to me “Did you know you have 5 broken ribs?” I began to see the endocrinologist a Lahey Clinic who began a whole series of tests (24 hour urine, sinus sampling (during which they did something to give me double vision for a month), saliva, etc). Subsequently, I continued to break ribs and by the winter of 2007 I found myself in Lahey due to back pain. They took some x-rays and told me I had 2 vertebrae fractures. They released me after 3 days with no special diagnosis.

My brother, a cardiologist, saw me the night I was discharged and immediately had me admitted to his hospital because I was having so much trouble breathing. His hospital told me I had 5 vertebrae fractures in various states of healing. They performed a kiphoplasty on one of the vertebrae. It was not successful because my spine had become so soft from Osteoporosis (a T score of -2.5). About this time, the endocrinologist at Lahey had, after several months of testing, figured out I had Cushing’s Disease. I had both a back and a brain MRI. The back MRI found lots of fractures and the brain MRI found nothing. I eventually got released from there and referred to Dr. Brooke Swearingen, a neurosurgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and a specialist in pituitary surgery, who admitted me and took one look at the diagnostic tests (Cortisol levels of 1007 mg/l, etc.) which had been ongoing at my original hospital since last summer and within a few days performed successful Transsphenoidal surgery in April. During surgery he did find the tumor and successfully removed it. My cortisol levels were normal the next day,

I was out of work (I design software for a living) from February until July. I am undergoing physical therapy and obviously still in recovery. I am on 5mg prednisone and lots of Ibuprofren. I can stand about 5 minutes before my back starts to really hurt and I have to sit down. I have a lot of fatigue and not much of an appetite (I have lost 50 pounds off my peak of 240 in March.). My memory is still an issue which makes it difficult working in the software business which is full of lots of lingo and complicated designs and is always finding new ways to do things.

I am hoping my back improves soon. My neurologist is making me wear this big chest protector because he is afraid if I fall I will fracture my spine. My legs are still kind of shaky and still ache a lot.

Oh, and one last thing, Last September, my wife made me move out. Among other things she was tired of me “being sick all the time” and gaining weight and not exercising. She also said she wanted someone with “passion” (it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to know what that means). If you don’t know, impotence is one of the many symptoms of Cushing’s. We have a 4 ½ year old and a 22 month old boys. Despite all the various fractures and other symptoms, I spent all my time at home (when not a work) helping with kids and fixing up our new house. My wife is a clinical psychologist. I guess I should made an appointment with her. Maybe she might have had a little empathy for me if she was getting paid.

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