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Renee's Story...

At present I am a married without children 32 yr old non-smoking, non-alcohol consuming very career oriented woman. I am about 80 lbs over weight, my blood pressure is semi-high, I am a type 2 diabetic, hypothyroid, bipolar 1 (which is a VERY recent diagnosis in the last month). I am prone to every illness that passes within a mile of me (colds etc). Recently struggling with potassium deficiency which spawned some cardiac issues, sugar problems, insulin resistance (?), EXTREME fatigue, and almost paralysis. I seem to be in a brain fog. I am very irritable and suffer from racing thoughts a lot and of course mood swings taking me into a very deep depression which is where the bipolar diagnosis recently came from.

A brief medical history about me when things seemed to start their slow decline. In 1994 I started having gastrointestinal problems. A lot of nausea, vomiting and stress type symptoms. I saw a specialist at a leading hospital in the area (and the country!) and they felt I had an ulcer(s) and perhaps a hernia. Two endoscopies later their diagnosis confirmed I was sent home to recover but yet I continued to decline. My parents begged me to move home so I did and continued to search for the reason for my nausea and vomiting with a lot of acid reflux. I went from doctors specializing in psychiatry to gastroenterology. Somewhere during this time I developed some extreme anxiety. I had always had some depression but I entered a period that was pretty bad.

During the next two years my symptoms persist and the doctors pretty much start to shoot in the dark. I was treated for bulimia (which was not an issue in my conscious mind), chronic appendicitis and had my appendix removed, one year later it was discovered that my gall bladder was diseased and removed. Here is where weight started to creep on. I was 26, newly married and ready to conquer the world. My anxiety continued at even greater levels but I pushed on trying to overcome it which caused a deeper depression. I started suffering energy issues but thought is was how hard I was working. (I am very career driven) My mood swings became almost unbearable to my new husband and I began a couple of anti-depressants. I started with Zoloft and switched after some pretty significant side effects in my married life.

In 1998 my energy and mood swings became ridiculous so I saw my primary care doctor who gave me a complete physical and found my thyroid low, changed my medication for depression to Celexa and observed my weight creeping up. I continued to be tired all the time and very grumpy. My cholesterol was high as was my blood pressure (for me anyway). My doctor monitored my thyroid levels over the next 2 years trying to get them leveled out. I shuffled from one dosage to the next but my primary care physician (PCP) was very good about listening and doing his best to help me along but was never able to find the source of my fatigue and the specialists I saw pretty much wrote me off as a hypochondriac and at that point I believed them.

In 2000 I started have major headaches that were diagnosed as migraines by my PCP. He gave me medication and blood pressure medicine to help but found my weight continuing to pile on. I am about 25 lbs at this point with no change in diet or exercise (both reasonably healthy and not a logical reason for weight gain) so my PCP continues to look at my thyroid panels and sent me back to an endocrinologist. I asked to try some T3/T4 type medications and found no improvement, weight continued, signs of type 2 diabetes have appeared and I am put on low dosages of Glucophage to try and avoid a total onset.

In 2002 my headaches were weekly, my fatigue was ridiculous and I could hardly swallow. I had a goiter that had been growing for years an my neck was almost 20 around now and was suspicious in some areas so surgical removal was decided upon. The surgery went smoothly and I recovered quickly. My neck is now down to about 18. My fatigue continues to be high but I refuse to let it beat me. I continue with anxiety and depression but it is managed somewhat by EffexorXR and sheer will. My rapid weight gain starts here.

I fight every pound that comes onto my body. I exercise, I eat well I fight it tooth and nail but another 40 lbs has piled on my body. Its all around my midsection, neck and face. I am totally out of proportion. I have very limited rear end, thighs and hips. I have this horrible stretch marks that embarrass me to no end. I continue to wrestle with anxiety and depression which is deepening a lot with the weight gain despite my efforts to stop it.

2003 is a very tough year both personally and professionally. We have a lot of stress of immediate family that is ill and professionally our jobs are in jeopardy (and ultimately lost) and our savings depleted (read non-existent). I took a job in another area of the country traveling home only on the weekends. I am beyond exhausted, depressed and very irritable. All I do is sleep when I come home but were sort of keeping the bills paid. My thyroid levels are normal my weight too high, my blood pressure too high, and my cholesterol also too high despite a good diet and exercise 4 days a week. I eventually landed a job that would place my family and I in one place so we moved to another state.

The job is great, the people are wonderful and not having to travel is fabulous. I continue to be exhausted but after the pace I had kept I figured I needed to catch up on my rest a bit. I take great pride in my work so I am working extreme hours to get things off to a great start. I still feel very tired, somewhat of a brain fog at times, grumpy at home (well hidden at work) and very determined to excel and succeed. I continue to wrestle anxiety and depression. In December 2003 I collapsed early one morning in our bedroom. How long I was out is guessed to be 30-90 minutes. I remember getting up, showering and exiting the shower then I woke up later to paramedics. Somewhere in the middle I got into my underclothes but I don't recall. I woke to someone putting gel in my mouth due to my blood sugar being very low. My blood pressure was very high and they were having a heck up a time finding a vein. I was taken to a local hospital and found to have a lot of potassium, be dehydrated and my blood sugar had returned to normal. I was told to follow up with my PCP (of which I didn't have one in my new location).

I located a new PCP who did a full history and work up. He found me to be hyperthyroid and taking too much Glucophage (my blood sugars seemed too low). My cholesterol was very high, my weight was of course too high as well. We went through all sorts of blood work through the month of January trying to adjust to the right Synthroid dose and Glucophage as well. My PCP was very supportive and trying to help me get back to normal. In February as we monitored blood work and levels my potassium came back pretty low so I was placed on supplements. I remained hypokalemic for about 6 weeks but seem to be doing better by adding some high potassium fruits and veggies to my diet. I did have some cardiac problems related to the potassium deficiency as well. There are days I truly cannot move despite how badly I want to work and excel at what I do. I started missing a ton of work and have gone on short term disability to try and figure this out. During all of the physical tests I have become incredibly depressed and referred to a psychiatrist who has diagnosed me as bipolar. This one has also thrown me for a loop. I was also referred to an endocrinologist who seems to be taking my symptoms and me seriously.

So far I have had a 24 hour cortisol test that showed slightly elevated cortisol and I just did a dexamexathazone test late last week with no results reported to me yet. My doctor has state that I am pseudo Cushing's.

My biggest frustration is I want to go back to work, function like a normal person around my house and in society and more importantly a wife to my wonderful husband who has tolerated this all these years.

At the moment I am under the care of an endocrinologist, PCP and a psychiatrist. Thankfully so far no one has made me feel like a hypochondriac or like this is in my head. I have to be honest though I have gotten to a point even I don't know anymore!

Update> June 9, 2004

A 5 mm tumor has been found on my pituitary gland and is scheduled to be removed on June 30, 2004.

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