C - central obesity, cervical fat pads, collagen fiber weakness, comedones
U - urinary free cortisol and glucose increase
S - striae, suppressed immunity
H - hypercortisolism, hypertension, hyperglycemia, hirsutism
I - iatrogenic
N - noniatrogenic
G - glucose intolerance, growth retardation
I’ve made an appointment to go see my doctor about getting tested for Cushing’s syndrome. I have pretty much all the symptoms.. but I’m terrified because if I DO have it, its going to be caused by a benign tumour on my adrenal glands or pituitary gland which I’ll have to have surgery on. Then there’s the “extremely rare” chance that they’re not benign. I’m trying to not panic, but.. hahaha. Anyway, doctors in a week. We’ll wait and see.
C - Central Obesity, Cervical Fat Pads, Collagen Fibre Weakness, Comedones
U - Urinary Free Cortisol and Glucose Increase
S - Striae, Suppressed Immunity
H - Hypercortisolism, Hypertension, Hyperglycemia, Hypercholesterolemia, Hirsutism
I - Iatrogenic
N - Noniatrogenic
G - Glucose Intolerance, Growth Retardation
With just twelve short hours before surgery takes place and I am on my way to living a new life, I have gone into a deep reflection period. This process has been by far the most physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting experience I have ever been through. I have realized that life is much too short to concern ourselves with the little annoyances of the every day grind. For the past few days I have been doing a lot of reminiscing with my family and friends. I can remember back when I was younger, being extremely arrogant and vain. This process had truly taken me back and made me appreciate everything that I have. I firmly believe that God has spoken to me through this and humbled me, made me appreciate life and the countless blessing He has bestowed upon me.
Yesterday I went to get my haircut from my man AJ at Capitol Barbershop and we got into a great conversation. He reminded me that there are two ways to go about attaining things we want in life: we can bulldoze our way through things, become a juggernaut of sorts and just destroy everything in our path. Or we can strive to do things to the best of our ability with positivity, a strong work ethic, but most importantly, a cool head. This rang so true for me. I have really taken on a new philosophy about life. We can not be in a rush to get rich. Of course, we should always strive for greatness and success however, always remember that what is most important is if you can look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and honestly say that you tried your best and you did everything with your morals intact.
Life is a journey, so stop focusing on the destination. To all my family and friends that have supported me throughout this process, I would like to say thank you for the unconditional love and continued support. The positivity you have surrounded me with has truly changed my life. Positive energy and surrounding yourself with positive influences DOES affect every aspect of your life. I encourage everyone to reflect and really hone in on what you value most in life, because it should not be superficial or material. Friendship and love lasts beyond what any dollar amount can bring you. I thank God for everything he has and continues to bless my life with. I am at the tail end now and I look forward to sharing my recovery with all of you. Much Love.
I'm like the biggest dork; you can tell by the mnemonic devices I use to remember facts...
Cushing Syndrome is adrencortical hyperfunction. Symptoms include but are not limited to weight gain, mental retardation, growth retardation and excessive hair growth. So I think of PETER CUSHING in a movie, fighting a bunch of FAT LITTLE WEREWOLVES.
A New Outlook
Before I begin, I’d like to ask a simple question. What is it that defines you? Better yet, what is it that dictates your happiness? Do you wake up every morning believing wholeheartedly that you are living life the way you envisioned? If you are one of those people who sits back from time to time and questions whether you are truly on the correct path, then I encourage you to hear my story and follow me throughout my journey.
My entire life I have been driven by the need to succeed. I have literally invested my whole being in one goal; to be rich. I suppose this stems from my upbringing. My childhood was difficult as my parents were divorced, young, and struggling to support themselves, let alone a child. Even today I see how hard my parents have to struggle just to live comfortable lives. And so, from a very young age, I made a promise to myself that I would be so successful that money would never even cross my mind.
Growing up, things came easily to me. I never had to try hard to get good grades, I was handsome, I always had friends…I was loved. People have always told me that I am going to do big things with my life, that I just have that “it” factor. These things have both come as a blessing and a curse. When I was about 12 years old I made a promise. I would not subject my children to the hardships I was faced to overcome as an adolescent. Although this goal of monetary stability is one shared amongst many of us, my perception of wealth and success became noticeably unrealistic as I matured. Dreams of owning a nice home and a happy family turned into the necessity of living a lavish lifestyle complete with multiple extravagant homes, nice vehicles, and yearly vacations. The pressure to succeed had blinded me from the realities of life.
Throughout middle school until the end of my freshman year of high school I was on top of the world. I was a sports star, had decent grades, amazing friends, and a beautiful girlfriend. I felt untouchable. These goals I set for myself, they were all easily attainable in my mind. Nothing was going to stop me and nothing could. Then came my sophomore year.
I began to notice a change in my body 5 years ago during the summer before my sophomore year of high school. Severe acne started to cultivate on my once spotless face and my face was noticeably rounder and shiny. My family and I attributed my acne to being a typical teenager and the round face was surely a result of me putting on weight to play varsity football (so we thought). After a bout with Acutane the majority of my acne went away but my face shape remained the same and I was also starting to develop a significant amount of body hair. This troubled me because none of my family members are very hairy, but I figured that maybe it was my Italian genes kicking in. After about a year I really began to fear that something was wrong with me. My face had literally tripled in size and I could never lose weight. At times I would spend up to 3 hours in the gym and eat perfectly with no results to show for it. Around this time I was also beginning to experience chronic anxiety that coincided with sleep deprivation and mental instability. For some reason I could always find something to attribute all of these things to. “I’m probably not sleeping because I’m so stressed out, which is also causing my acne and mental instability.”For four more years I would wake up every morning and wonder who the person starting at me in the mirror was. It certainly wasn’t Josh Blevins. My symptoms were getting worse; I was losing my identity. Why, how had my body and mind transformed so much in such little time? It’s hard to explain the feeling of knowing that something is wrong with you and not having a suitable answer to your problems. People called me crazy for the longest time because they were convinced nothing was out of the ordinary.
Fast forward to August 4th 2012. By this time my face had become so swelled that I was going in to have facial liposuction and buccal fat removal surgery performed. My face had gotten so big that this was the only solution. I remember feeling so happy that morning, finally my face would look the way it should! After having the procedure done (by far the most physically painful experience of my life, and I have my entire left ribcage and hip tattooed) the doctor sat me up and put me into a wheelchair. As I was rolling out of his office he said, “Hey Josh one more thing. I want you to go get some blood work done and get tested for an extremely rare disease called Cushing’s syndrome. It could be nothing but you seem to have some of the typical symptoms. Go get that done and let me know what happens.” After weeks of extensive testing, I was indeed diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome.
For those of you who don’t know what Cushing’s syndrome is I will attempt to explain. Cushing’s syndrome is a disease that affects one’s endocrine system by producing an overabundance of a hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol is released into the body in order to regulate stress levels, however, if too much is being produced it can cause a variety of health problems. These include: a condition known as “moonface”, insomnia, severe depression, mental instability, excess body hair, acne, excess upper body weight, high blood pressure, and yes, even death. Cushing’s is often undiagnosed as it’s symptoms are typically treated individually and quite honestly, testing for Cushing’s is a long process doctors tend to avoid. The overproduction of cortisol is usually found in one of two places. Either a tumor forms on the pituitary gland of the brain’s frontal lobe or a tumor forms on the adrenal glands. For me, a tumor has formed on the pituitary gland and has been the cause of all of these previously unexplainable changes in my body. Learning about this has come both as a shock and a relief. I would be lying if I said that I am not terrified that I have a potentially life-threatening tumor in my brain. I am relieved, however, that this condition is treatable and if I can be treated properly, I will look, think, and feel the way I knew I was supposed to for the last five years of my life.
We have all heard the stories of people experiencing “spiritual awakenings” or having sudden, life-changing, epiphanies. I can remember sitting in church as a kid, surrounded by people that were being brought to tears and wondering what they were feeling and why I wasn’t feeling the same thing. I have always been a firm believer in God but, to be honest, the supernatural aspect of my faith has never been something I truly gave much thought. Yes, people would proclaim miracles, and I certainly have been blessed throughout the years, but I never really believed in the miracles we read about in the Bible or the countless “convict turned Christian” testimonies that are reiterated in churches throughout America. For the majority of my life I proclaimed to be a Christian, however, led a lifestyle that continuously placed my wishes, my desires, before my faith. Throughout high school I engaged myself in activities most Christians would consider to be disgraceful. I will be the first to admit that I have done some things that most followers of God would be ashamed of. But I did not come here to tell you about my faith, rather what caused me to take on a new perspective of my faith and my life in general.
After learning that I have Cushing’s disease I have truly been taken back. A new perspective on life has been introduced to me. Although the drive to succeed and make money is still present, I have discovered a more important aspect of life…happiness. I have come to realize that we must enjoy life and embrace each day as a blessing. Surrounding myself with positivity, friends, and genuinely happy people has become my new focus. I used to laugh at people who would say “find what makes you happy”, but honestly I see the validity behind that statement now. I seek out God more than ever before and truly believe that my relationship with him has strengthened my will. I also have vowed to eat healthily and do everything I can to fight this disease. For so long I was caught up in what the world told me I should look like or how I should act or even what I should be interested in. Now I realize that life is too short to be focused on what others perceive as correct. We must enjoy life. Never sacrifice your happiness, health, or well being for a dollar bill or an approval.
This brings me to why I have started this blog. I plan on documenting every step of my battle with Cushing’s syndrome. From my current state, to surgery, to recovery and beyond, I plan on sharing my story with all of you as I embark on this journey. My hope is to inform and inspire. Too few people know about this disease but, more importantly, too few people are living life for what it should be. Please join me on my journey. I hope to share all of the emotions and memories of this transition to a new lifestyle with all who care to listen.
Finally an answer!
So I went to my doctor the other day to discuss whether or not I have Cushing’s Syndrome. Well I do have it. I go this coming Monday for an MRI of my brain to see if I have a tumor (which according to my doctor would be weird if I didn’t have a tumor). While I’m terrified of having a tumor and then inevitably having to have surgery…in my brain, I am super happy to know that there is a reason for why over the past years I’ve been gaining, and gaining weight, and why it seems like no matter how hard I try I lose weight at the rate of the speed of a turtle walking. It also explains my going from 0 to 1,000,000 with irritability. But seriously, the weight gain..omg I now know it’s not all my fault, because let me tell you, it sucks when you’ve been eating the same for years and haven’t gained a pound then one day you realize you’ve put on 20 pounds since high school and it’s only been a little over a year. Then 4 years later after you’ve graduated high school you’ve put on about 50, and dieting only works when you go to extremes. It’s been really hard, and depressing. It’s really good to know in a few months (hopefully) I’ll be back to my normal self, not constantly stressed, angry, moody, and unhappy with how I look. So if any of you have a suspicious hump at the bottom of your neck, (it doesn’t have to be huge, mine isn’t) you’ve been putting on weight and haven’t changed your eating habits, and it seems ridiculously hard to lose weight, and you’re also moody, GO GET CHECKED for Cushing’s Syndrome! You can also check for an explanation of what it is, and symptoms.
In the chart of cortisol problems I wrote that Cushing’s disease is the most common cause of Cushing’s Sd.
Actually the most common cause is iatrogenic (aka: glucocorticoid therapy)
The most common NON-IATROGENIC cause of Cushing’s Sd, is Cushing’s Disease (aka: microadenoma of Anterior Pituitary!)
Hypercortisolism a.k.a. Cushing's Syndrome
I’ll never forget Cushing’s Syndrome because of Dr. House (he’s the main character in House M.D.). Though my professor didn’t elaborate this much, I’ll try to explain this to share my small knowledge regarding to this disease.
So what is Cushing’s Syndrome?
Cushing’s syndrome is a rare disease. It is caused by long-term exposure to too much cortisol (cortisol is a hormone that the adrenal gland makes). Sometimes, taking synthetic hormone medicine to treat an inflammatory disease leads to Cushing’s.
What are the symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome?
Some symptoms are upper body obesity, thin arms and legs, severe fatigue and muscle weakness, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and easy bruising.
- Some may say that a person with undiagnosed Cushing’s syndrome is only diabetic (because of the symptoms) but with the right diagnostic examination and treatment, Cushing’s syndrome can be cured.
Cushing’s Syndrome occurs when your body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol. The most common cause of the high level of cortisol in your body is the over-use of medicines that are prescribed to treat inflammatory diseases (corticosteroids). These medicines can include both topical corticosteroids (such as psoriasis creams) or oral corticosteroids (such as medications to treat asthma). Symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome include rapid weight gain (especially of the face, torso, and between the shoulder blades); abnormally large purple/pink stretch marks on the torso, legs, and arms; high blood pressure; bone deterioration; fatigue; acne; thinning or fragile skin; muscular weakness; depression; and, in some cases, diabetes.
Read more here:
My hospital appointment went surprisingly well. The doctor was really nice, talked about some possible diagnoses, one which I suspected (Fibromyalgia) and the other (Cushing’s Syndrome) I didn’t really think about before now. Had some more blood taken and now just waiting on results and my EEG next week.