Unexplained weight gain, other symptoms don’t equal “fat & neurotic”

Sam writes:

My mother got fat after my younger brother was born. She had always been very skinny and to see herself get fat was hard for her. All the doctors told her to diet. She tried really hard without success. A terrible fungus infection took over her legs, itchy and red, and no medication got rid of it. Her ribs cracked when she was hugged. She was emotionally labile. Her face became moon-shaped. She developed a dowager’s hump, hair on her face, and thinning hair on her head. People thought she was my father’s mother. My parents had good insurance. She went to many doctors. Finally, after >20 years, she went to Scripps in Dan Diego. I’ve read the reports. They say, paraphrased, that my mother was just fat and neurotic but they might as well check her for Cushing’s Syndrome, which , of course, she had. All those years, my poor mom. I hope that other people will read this and demand tests for unexplained weight gain and other symptoms and not just accept that they are ‘fat and neurotic’.

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  1. Zen

     /  November 1, 2010

    The lack of proper treatment doesn’t surprise me, but it’s absolutely unacceptable.

    I’m glad that someone was finally able to get a diagnosis (even if they were just humoring her), but it shouldn’t have taken so long for it to happen.

  2. What a horrible story…and I have heard similar. Demand that these doctors take you seriously. I remember having a medication reaction that almost killed me–in and out of the ER, hosp, etc. They did not want to say it was from the med (amiodarone for afib), so they said maybe your polio is back, maybe if you lost some el-bees, asthma, thats’s it–very late onset asthma. Well, it was the med. I went to the doctor every Wed–standing appt and could almost cry–what is WRONG with me? He is no longer my doctor. Actually I have no doctor at the moment–the last one sent me packing when I would not get weighed.

  3. eandh

     /  November 1, 2010

    It’s horrible, but she’s lucky she lived to diagnosis – Cushing’s Disease (where the overproduction of cortisol is due to one or more tumours on the pituitary gland) can be fatal. My partner went through more than 2 years of that kind of “fat and depressed middle-aged woman” non-diagnosis until we finally got to the endocrinologist, who took less than 10 minutes to say “of course this is Cushing’s”. She had the surgery 18 months ago, and is doing well.

  4. Sounds like her symptoms were classic Cushing’s to me. What a crime all those doctors missed all the obvious clues because of their own bias. Gah.

    I’m so sorry she went through this. I hope she’s doing better now.

  5. Research has proven that women who present with symptoms to their physicians – whether that physician is male or female – do not receive the same level of treatment as a male with similar or the same complaints.

    Men will more likely receive the benefit of tests/examinations to rule out and/or diagnose. Women, as your post so sadly demonstrates, are most usually told – one way or another – that “It’s all in your head.”


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