Friday, March 5, 2010

Why My Day is Weird, or: Beware the Ides of March

Today is weird. It didn't really start out weird. It's just weird now.

As you may or may not know, I've been going to the doctor a lot lately. It started out because I was having a lot of headaches. Bad ones. Then my doctor was concerned about my blood pressure. It was suddenly much higher than before. I went in a few weeks later, and while my blood pressure had dropped slightly, it was still high - and for someone who has a history of heart disease on both sides of her family, my doctor was naturally concerned. I started taking a beta blocker medication because in addition to lowering my blood pressure, it was also supposed to help suppress migraine headaches.

I kept getting the headaches. My blood pressure isn't back to normal, despite taking the medication for five months now. I've gained a lot of weight in the last year or so. While that isn't necessarily out of the ordinary for me, it still raised some questions with my doctor.

He wanted to see if I might have something called Cushing's syndrome. It's caused by an elevated amount of cortisol in the body. To test for this, I had to collect my pee for 24 hours. Reading up on the symptoms of Cushing's, I realize that I have a LOT of them. Almost all of them.

My doctor called me today with the results of the pee-collection test. I had more than three times the normal amount of cortisol in my system, which is indicative of Cushing's. He explained that this is caused by some sort of malfunction in my pituitary gland and/or my adrenal glands. They're not talking to each other correctly and somehow they're causing too much cortisol to be produced. The next step is to get my blood drawn to test the levels of ACTH (don't ask what it is, I have no idea), and that should be able to narrow it down to my pituitary or adrenal glands. Then I need to meet with an endocrinologist to figure out what to do next.

I realized, after I got off the phone with the appointment scheduling lady, that I scheduled that appointment on the Ides of March. Maybe not the best, but I already have an appointment about my blood pressure for the same day, and I really don't want to have to get out to the clinic again.

So... this whole thing is weird. If I do, in fact, have Cushing's, it would answer all the questions about what's been wrong with me lately. I always just assumed it was because I'm overweight, and if I just sucked it up and lost weight, my problems would correct themselves. But now I'm beginning to wonder if that would have worked at all, since this is really something out of my conscious control. But if it means that, after treatment, I won't get these stupid headaches anymore? That would be awesome. If it means I don't have to take so many pills every day, that would be awesome, too. Based on my reading, I might have to continue taking something to regulate the cortisol in my body, but that's something to worry about later. Let's figure out if I even have Cushing's before we start thinking about what's going to happen after.

I'm kind of scared. I've never been this kind of sick before. I've never needed to see a specialist. My doctor told me I'm an interesting case - usually people who get Cushing's aren't heavy to begin with. But it would answer so many questions...


  1. Wow...I don't know whether to hope you have it or hope you don't. There's something comforting about a diagnosis, and it sounds pretty treatable. In any case I hope you're able to find some way to get rid of the headaches and take fewer pills!

    - Lizz

  2. Wow that can be tough. My blood pressure and weight are still an issue for me and I know full well the stress it can bring. I hope a diagnosis might bring some clarity and help figure out a solution. We should figure out a way to support each other in our goals

    If you haven't already found it, check out the website above, especially go to the message board. There is a lot of info there.