Like so many of the other Cushing’s stories, similarly my story starts with years of odd health problems, numerous doctors, no one believing there really was a problem, to finally gaining a great deal of inner strength to believe in myself. Looking back now at pictures from over 10 years ago, we can now see when Cushing’s Disease started for me. In my early 20’s, previously having always been so thin, I gained small increments of weight and never could get it off, plus my blood pressure seemed to be elevated at times. My face was more rounded and it took longer to heal even from a simple scratch, not to mention I bruised if someone looked at me wrong. All of my symptoms started off small and unnoticeable to doctors, and I, too, passed it off as effects of aging, even though I was so young and previously so healthy.
After eight years, and the birth of our first child, I started becoming increasingly ill. We had no idea I was really sick, or my husband and I would never purposefully tried to have had a child at that time. We know now that infertility is yet another Cushing’s symptom, so the mere fact that our son is here, and healthy, we know is truly a miracle and a blessing. By this time, I was so sick, I was no longer able to be the kind of mother I promised God and my Mom I would be. If it was not for the miracle of our son, I may not have pushed doctors for answers. It was then that my fight for answers began.
Four Endocrinologists later, I finally found a caring soul, Dr. John Phipps, Jr., who was willing to say, “I don’t know” when my symptoms were weird and fought for me to receive the medical treatment I needed. After 16 months from the first time I heard the term “Cushing’s Disease,” I was FINALLY going to UVA for my transsphenoidal pituitary surgery. For me it was a totally new chance at life.
I understood the risks, the chance for reoccurrence, and lengthy recovery, but there was no other choice, except to get worse. Thankfully, June 2, 2005, Dr. Edward Laws gave me a new chance at living. Now, do not mistake my gratefulness to my recovery as being an easy road. That is far from the truth, but with the help of my Dr. Phipps and his nurse, Melissa, and Dr. Mary Lee Vance, I made it through continuous challenges until now, complete remission!! No kidney stones, no braking my ribs sneezing or coughing, no naps, no sleepless nights, no racing heart, no round face or buffalo hump or rounding of my rib cage, no high blood pressure, no depression, no anxiety from knowing something was wrong and no one would believe me, no weakness in my legs, no constant back pain, no red face or scratchy voice,. . . just me! The REAL me! Now I can be the mother, wife, daughter, volunteer, and friend God wants me to be.
Although this may have not been the road I would have purposefully chosen, I have been given so many blessings through this extremely long, emotional, and life-altering journey. I have learned to believe in myself. Plus, I have met so many others going through this “rare” disease. Cushing’s has personally showed me the beauty that does exist in every day life, and the power of prayer. For me, I liken it to a “near-miss.” Yes, my experience was very traumatic, yet, it could have been so much worse. Having Cushing’s Disease, I had the chance to have a surgery that could totally eradicate all my problems. Rarely can such a devastating disease be altered so drastically with one surgery. I knew the risk, and I know it can return. The difference now is that I would KNOW what was wrong and the capable, caring doctors to see. So, for all the devastation it has brought to my family and me, I am determined to see the bright side of the journey. I am strong and I know anyone else who experiences this will find that they, too, can make it through with shining colors and a smile to share.
Newsletter: Spring, 2007
State: North Carolina