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Tori's Story

Okay...well looking back through my high school years, I can see the signs of Cushing's popping up as early as my sophomore year. Somehow I was putting on weight despite my active lifestyle. It wasn't just normal weight gain, either. I basically ignored it, though, and just started a string of different diets, all being unsuccessful. This took me into my junior year. By this time I had gained about 25-30lbs. I was frustrated with myself and others around me began to mention the changes they saw. This did little for my self-esteem and brought on depression. For the most part, I was somehow able to maintain my weight, give or take 5lbs here and there. However, during my senior year of high school, things really began to pick up. Along with incredible weight gain, I also began losing my hair. My face became round and red, marked with acne I had never experienced. I noticed purple and red streaks on my skin and I became tired all the time. Every now and then I would have headaches-- terrible ones that blurred my vision and pounded on the back of my head. The doctor said they were "a rare form of migraine". Then my periods became irregular, then ceased completely. I wasn't sure what was happening, so we began looking for answers.

First we went to the doctors thinking I might be having problems with my thyroid. My grandmother has hypothyroidism so we thought maybe it was a heredity thing. No, my thyroids tested fine. So we waited. As the symptoms worsened and my weight increased, another doctor visit ensued. This time, I was told I was merely an obese teenager who needed a new diet (although I was on a salad and water diet) and some exercise. I began to think I was crazy. Maybe I was meant to be fat, maybe all this was my fault. I began to accept this idea.

Then, in December of 2002, I had a family get-together for Christmas. My great-aunt, who is a child psychologist, was amazed by the change in me since we'd last seen each other. After we left, she'd told my uncle that she thought I had Cushing's. My uncle then relayed the info to us and we made an appointment with the doctor to be checked. By January I had been referred to an endocrinologist at Ohio State Med Center. She originally didn't think I had Cushing's, but after some testing, gave me the diagnosis and sent me for an MRI and CT scan. The MRI showed a 7mm tumor inside my pituitary. It was actually pushing the pituitary out of the sella turcica and on occasion would brush against the optic chiasm, this was the source of my headaches. When she found the tumor, she immediately referred my to a neurosurgeon, also at OSU med center. On May 19, 2003 I had a transsphenoidal resection of a pituitary adenoma. The whole operation was done through my nose and lasted about 3.5 hours. I am now on the road to recovery.

Cushing's changed my life. It continues to change my life in fact. I still struggle with recovering and though it hasn't been long, I can see changes day by day. Because of this I chose to forego my senior prom and also senior pictures...things that a graduate is entitled to. I am no longer ashamed of my appearance. I know it isn't my fault and things will improve. Though all of this I have to thank my family, my friends, and most importantly my God for giving me strength and support while I went through this. It has been an uphill battle but things are finally turning around.

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