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Old 07-29-2010, 05:51 PM   #1
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25 and can't get doctors to take me seriously: help!

I have no idea if this is in the proper forum or not, since I've mostly had to rely on my own 'net research (a dangerous thing, I tell ya), but I'm pretty sure it's at least partly hormonal. So here goes. My apologies for the stupidly long length, but I'm seriously at my rope's end and just need to vent.

I just turned 25 earlier this year. I'm female, and I am very overweight, which I will address in a moment. When I was 16 I diagnosed with severe depression and was soon put on 150 mg daily of Zoloft, which I've been on ever since, and in fact upped to 200 about six months ago or so for sudden anxiety and panic issues that cropped up. I started gaining a bit of weight almost immediately when I started on the meds, but I considered that a fair trade for functioning normally again, and I've always been a big girl anyway so I didn't think much of it. At 18, I started my first job in a restaurant and was constantly teased by coworkers because even mild exertion like mopping the floor would make my face turn blood red, even if I didn't necessarily feel that hot, and one night it even led to my manager insisting I go hang out in the freezer for a while to "cool off," even though again, I didn't feel any more uncomfortably hot than anyone else. I did, however, notice that around that time, I'd switched from feeling constantly cold to . . . not so much. I always used to be freezing and wearing multiple layers even indoors, but seemed to have mellowed out. I blamed it on the little bit of weight I'd gained since starting Zoloft.

Sometime in 2004, I finally clued in that I was seriously gaining a lot more weight than I should have, considering I was in college then and actually eating less and being more active than I had in high school. Part of that could be attributed to metabolism shifts, I realize, but that didn't account for why I'd mysteriously gained about twenty pounds in about a year and a half. Still, though, I didn't feel bad so I just shrugged, blamed it on bad genes, and ignored, a constant habit with me.

Then sometime around mid- to late-2006, the sweating started. It was relatively mild at first, but completely out of place. If I walked around (not even quickly or anything, just at a very normal pace) in the office where I worked, I started sweating. Not a terrible amount, but enough for others to notice. From there, things have gotten so, so much worse, both in terms of the sweating *and* the weight gain. Since then, I've gained probably 60 pounds or more, which, again, I take at least some responsibility for because I don't take care of myself and I know that. I regret it and I'm trying to fix things, but right now I'm in a pickle. Even the slightest (and I do mean slightest) bit of movement has me pouring sweat. I'm not exaggerating. In an air-conditioned room that others would actually consider too cold for comfort, the least little movement, and sometimes no movement at all, will trigger an unbelievable amount of sweat, mostly from my face but also under my arms, breasts, and (gross, I know) around my thighs. Forget going outside in the summer (or...really any time unless there's snow on the ground), because I will still roast. It's a very deep heat, too, like not just sweat, but if I stay sweaty and uncomfortable for any amount of time, my face especially will stay red for hours and be warm to the touch, and really feel as if I've been sunburnt even if I haven't been outside. As you can imagine, this is making my life increasingly difficult and miserable. I can't wear my hair down, I can't wear makeup because I sweat it all off before I'm even out the door (and I also have rosacea so I can't even cover that up...*facepalm*), I can't wear multiple layers unless that just means a thin hoodie with a thin t-shirt underneath, and then only in winter. It's not that I don't get cold, because I do, sometimes unbearably so, as I also happen to be a sissy and will shiver and shake like a chihuahua in winter even if I'm in a coat and everything. It just seems to take a lot more to get me to that point.

But oh, the fun doesn't stop there! No, because I also have weird fatigue issues. I pretty much stay tired, constantly (or, at the other extreme, I take 10 hours to wake up and then can't get to sleep until well after everyone else has already started their day). I could honestly sleep for 24 hours straight, I think. If I don't set my alarm, it's nothing for me to sleep 12 or more hours, every night (or day). No matter how much or little I sleep, no matter how I arrange my bed or adjust my routine, I never feel rested and alert whenever I get up later. Ever. Not only that, but when I am up, I get tired very, very easily. Little things that never would have bothered me before, and that don't bother anyone else, wear me out even just thinking about them, it seems. Again, I realize a lot of this is all the extra weight I'm carrying, but pretty much everyone I know who's my size or even bigger can still at least function like anyone else, albeit at a slower pace. Me, eh, forget it. Walking up a flight of stairs makes me feel like I'm about to keel over, even when my brain is screaming at me that I'm being an idiot and that I shouldn't be the least bit exhausted.

So! On to the array of doctors. The first one told me the weight was from metabolism shifting with age (...an overall 80+lb gain in about six years is considered "normal" shifting? At 25?!) and the sweating on something that could be fixed by taking a daily antihistamine. Needless to say, that didn't work. Second doctor was even less helpful and said the sweating was genetic (despite the fact that neither of my parents, their parents, or, as far as they can remember, their grandparents, ever had any issues with sweating), but still did a thyroid test anyway. Supposedly. I don't know, because I never saw or heard the results, only that everything was normal. Shrink blamed it on the Zoloft and switched me to Cymbalta, which I wasn't on long enough to see a difference before the panic attacks sent me running back to Zoloft.

I'm sure part of the reason I keep getting blown off is that I don't have any form of insurance (hey, I'm a grad student, what are ya gonna do?), but I at least have a job and money from school that I could still pay them with, so I don't know why that makes a difference. No one seems to take me seriously, but this is seriously ruining my life. I feel like I have to shower two or three times a day (I don't...usually, but some days are worse than others) because I sweat so much and get so gross and disgusting throughout the day. I want to lose the extra weight, I really, really do, but when I get not just winded but sore and feeling like I'm about to pass out even from a casual walk around the track at the park, and when I sweat buckets even just poking my head out the door on a nice, mild day, that rather limits how much I'm willing to humiliate myself in a gym.

Why I think it's something hormonal: I, uh, have never been to a gyno. I know, shame on me, but I'm not sexually active so I never saw the need before. Stupid, I know, but as soon as I save up enough money I'm totally visiting one, I swear. Anyway. I've got some weird excessive hair growth going on lately that I can't explain. My hair's always grown quickly, but as long as that's all on my head, sure, fine. But when it starts showing up as a nice little dirty looking mustache and, most bizarrely, as a stray dark pube that shows up under my chin seemingly overnight, something's off. Even my big toes have hair on them. Hairs, I should say.

What, oh what, wise healthboard folks, can I possibly do to get my doctors to take me seriously and actually try to find out what's wrong with me? Is it hormones? Blood pressure? Adrenal issues? How do I get them to actually listen to me and try to find out what's wrong rather than giving me a useless allergy pill and sending me on my way? I know I could just print out this diatribe and hand it over, but let's be serious. No doctor would read all this. He'd just skim and be like, "Yep, sweating, fatigue, hair issues -- congratulations, you're going through menopause!" At 25. With regular periods. I'm beginning to really think it might be Cushing's, as a quick Google symptom checker showed me I have several:
  • Weight gain, often around the chest and stomach (yep. I've always gained weight in exactly that area before it goes anywhere else, but the past several years it's just been ridiculously focused in that area)
  • Fat deposits behind the neck and shoulders (I...don't know?)
  • Purple stretch marks on the stomach (Ugh. Yes. It's embarrassing, to say the least.)
  • Hair growth on the face, chest, and back in women (Sigh. Yes. I don't know about my back, but face and part of my chest, yes)
  • Irregular periods (they're actually pretty regular, and as far as I know I think I've only ever missed one, and that was relatively recently)
  • Weakness in the legs (yep, along with everywhere else)
  • Easy bruising (yep, plus if I get a cut or scrape, it takes FOREVER to heal, and usually scars because of it)
  • Depression or moodiness (heh. yes, obviously)
  • Weak bones which can lead to broken bones (I don't know. I don't think I've ever broken a bone, besides one finger on my right hand that I apparently broke at some point and which healed over crooked, and somehow I missed this every step of the way)
  • High blood sugar, often leading to diabetes (maybe?)
  • High blood pressure (usually, yeah. It used to be perfect, then when all these issues started it kept creeping up to borderline high. It probably *is* high now, for all I know)

So what am I supposed to do now, just walk into yet another doctor's office and suggest they test for Cushing's or some related adrenal disorder? Should I visit a gyno for that instead to get the general hormone stuff checked out first, and maybe get her to refer me to a specialist (or at least maybe a doctor who'll actually listen to me)? HELP. PLEASE.

 
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Old 07-29-2010, 10:51 PM   #2
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Re: 25 and can't get doctors to take me seriously: help!

Hi there! I would definitely start with the gyno first. With the exception of the weight gain (some could still be from the zoloft), a lot of your symptoms sound hormonal, especially the hair growth and sweating. I'm actually 40y/o and many women around my age and older complain about the very symptoms you're complaining about on the menopause board, myself included. I haven't had all the symptoms but I've had a lot and I'm not even at menopause yet, I'm perimenopausal.

Anyway, it is possible to have hormonal imbalances at any age, although doctors may tell you different. My niece has the mood symptoms (bitchiness) during ovulation, after that she says she's okay. She's 24. Most likely, because of your age, they'll want to put you on the pill to try to 'balance' your hormones. It doesn't exactly work that way, though. This is especially true if you already have too much estrogen to begin with. Since most pills have estrogen in them, going on the pill wouldn't be the best choice in this case. Try and get these docs to realize this, though (groan). You'd get more of a response from a brick wall! Also, the pill contains synthetic hormones, and if you're on them long enough, your body stops producing its own natural hormones. Consequently, when you come off them you can actually end up with a hormonal imbalance again, sometimes worse than before. I personally think that's what happened to me. I was on the pill for 18 years until age 36. Within a year, all hell broke loose and hasn't stopped. In hindsight, I never should have stayed on them longer than a year. In your case, though, I guess what I'm trying to say is to make the gyno do a full hormone panel including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Have them include the thyroid again too. Thyroid disorders can be caused by an overload of estrogen in relation to progesterone. Three classic symptoms of low thyroid are weight gain, tiredness, and feeling cold and cold extremities. I have low thyroid, I have most of the symptoms with the exception of weight gain. If the gyno tries to suggest going on the pill, look for a new doc. Good luck and keep me posted.

 
Old 07-30-2010, 07:52 AM   #3
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Re: 25 and can't get doctors to take me seriously: help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pokethebadger View Post
. . . So what am I supposed to do now, just walk into yet another doctor's office and suggest they test . . .
Yes.

Or go back to the first doctor and say, "Hey, ya know doc, that stuff you gave me didn't work, in fact, my symptoms have gotten worse since I last saw you . . . " If you did that already and they gave you a hard time, or you just didn't like that doc, then a GYN sounds like a good place to start fresh.

All women 21+ should have a pap smear every two years, sexually active or not.

 
Old 07-31-2010, 05:50 PM   #4
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Re: 25 and can't get doctors to take me seriously: help!

Get yourself to a gynecologist asap! After you do that, she will refer you to the correct specialists. Good luck.

 
Old 08-01-2010, 05:45 AM   #5
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Re: 25 and can't get doctors to take me seriously: help!

I would cut to the chase and see an endocrinologist. You need to have your cortisol checked and it wouldn't hurt to have a thyroid workup as well. You may need to have an ACTH stim test. I have dealt with hormone imbalance and from my own experience, my gynecologist made recommendations as far as who to see but wouldn't participate in a workup, which is understandable. Since your funds are limited, I would table the gyn visit for now since that is not critical. You say you are a grad student. Most universities have very reasonable health insurance plans for students. Have you looked into this?

 
Old 08-27-2010, 06:22 PM   #6
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Re: 25 and can't get doctors to take me seriously: help!

Hey there...

I know your frustration and have been through it all myself. I am also 25 and go through many of the same things that you are experiencing. I was diagnosed with Cushing's right before I turned 21. I had my entire pituitary removed. They never visualized a tumor through scans but found it through other testing. Many of the symptoms you are explaining do sound very characteristic of Cushing's. Many Dr's don't know how to point out this condition when their patient presents with the symptoms. If I were you, I would ask to get a blood work up testing your cortisol levels.

Also have your TSH (thyroid horomones) looked at. Now you say you've never seen a gyno... and I see that many of the other people have told you to see one asap, but let me ask you this... are you having any abdominal pain around where your ovaries might be? The reason I ask is because many times Cushing's and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome mimic one another with their symptoms. They are often mistaken for one another when trying to diagnose. When I first started testing, I had an ovarian cyst. Although it wasn't at all sizable they thought first and foremost that I have PCS. It's very hard to find a DR. that knows anything about Cushing's. Believe me when I tell you this.... I still have to explain to ENDO's the in's and out's of Cushing's.

Like I said though, get a blood test done checking your cortisol level, this will either rule Cushing's out or bring it to the table for further testing. If it comes back with a high cortisol level, you will then need to get a dexamethasone suppresion test. If this test comes back showing a high cortisol still then you know it's Cushing's. Then you will need to start getting scans done trying to find the tumor. With Cushing's it can be a few different places. It can be a pituitary tumor, an adrenal tumor, or ectopic (meaning its elsewhere in your body... one of the most common places is in the lungs). I hope you have insurance, if not you probably want to go ahead and get some. My surgeries cost over $200,000 before all the meds I have to take now. My growth horomone a year runs $50,000, not to mention all the other replacement horomones.

Where are you located? If you are in Ohio or Florida I recommend seeing a Dr. named Lawrence Kennedy. He is a Cushing's specialist and is AMAZING!!! He is the Chief Endo at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and comes down to FL once a month to see his old patients here. I used to drive 3 hours to see him bc he's that good. Let me know if you have any other questions or want to talk. I'm well versed on this subject and a few others ....

Hope everything turns out for ya!

Last edited by moderator2; 08-27-2010 at 06:26 PM. Reason: spaces between the paragraphs will make your posts easier to read

 
Old 10-04-2010, 07:03 AM   #7
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Re: 25 and can't get doctors to take me seriously: help!

Get your estrogens & testosterone levels checked. If your E is very high and your T is too low that can cause your problems.

Ask you GYN to test the sex hormones.

 
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