|An extreme textbook image of the striae that is usually|
indicative of Cushing's.
These striae can be all over your body. On the breasts, abdomen, shoulders, buttocks, back, thighs, legs and on your lower belly area near your privates. It's not bad enough that Cushing's makes you feel like crap, but it also terrorizes the appearance of our body as well.
Another big one is the 24 hour urine free cortisol tests. It's considered the gold standard test for Cushing's, but if someone has episodic or cyclical it may be very hard to catch a high. Once in a while you may get lucky and catch a high one, but more often than not it is very hard to catch with cyclical. The logic being is that for the majority of those who cycle we have extremely high levels of cortisol late at night when our numbers should be bottomed out, but during the morning and day our levels would bottom out. So, in essence our 24 hour collection could still look normal because we are still catching a low and a high which ends up averaging out the numbers. However we need to prove that our diurnal rhythm is flipped which is something that is very common in cyclical Cushing's. One of the reasons I chose to go to Dr. Friedman is because he has testing protocols in place to help catch those late night highs for those of us that are hard to diagnose. He allows us to do a 10 hour urine collection from 10 P.M. until 8 A.M. and he then uses the average of the cortisol and creatnine ratio to determine if we were high during the night. He also tests using midnight blood draws if someone has a hard time catching a high with urine which measures free cortisol versus serum cortisol . It's nice to have options when you are dealing with the less understood side of Cushing's.
There are many symptoms that aren't usually listed in textbooks as a sign of Cushing's, but when you put all the pieces of the puzzle together they tell a story that can point to Cushing's. I have had an elevated white blood cell count for at least the past 13 years. I started noticing a pattern when I went in to have carpal tunnel surgeries and also my knee surgeries. They were afraid to proceed in fear that I was fighting off an infection, but I informed them that this was normal for me. Excess steroids in the body will cause your white blood cell count to be elevated. Also, a lot of people with Cushing's have Vitamin D levels that are extremely low or completely bottomed out. There are just so many different symptoms, but like I said before you have to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and then it all starts to fit. Just remember to keep fighting and always do your research. If I had listened to all the previous doctor's I would still be sitting here wondering what happened to me, but instead I took charge of my life and educated myself the best I could so that I could fight this disease head on.