I mentioned trying to lose some weight in various postings -- here, and on other blogs' comments. I have always been large, so my struggles with weight are lifelong. This is, by no means, a new development.
I tend to use humor to diffuse rude comments about my weight. When people ask rude questions, most of the time, I try to make a self-deprecating joke -- it hurts less when *I'm* the one doing the put-downs. I guess it's a sort of a defense mechanism.
When I became friends with an online group devoted to the TV show "Homicide: Life on the Street," we all praised the show for starring "normal" looking people. The original stars were regular Joes, not beauty queens and GQ models. We often described some of the characters as "lumpy." This was, in our estimation, a good thing as far as realism of the show was concerned. Real poh-leece don't look like they stepped off of the fashion runway! They look tired, harried, and busy, just like the rest of the world does. I tended to apply the term "lumpy" to myself as well.
A few years ago, when Offspring was about three or four, people around me started noticing a lump on the back of my neck. It didn't hurt, and it wasn't bothering me in any way, so I didn't think much about it. I just figured I was putting the truth to my designation as "lumpy." I went to have lunch with my mother one day, and a co-worker of hers stopped me in the hallway to ask about the lump. It turns out that she had had something similar, and wanted to know if I ever had my lump checked out. She had had Cushing's Syndrome, which is a type of endocrine/hormonal disorder. She had a tumor on her adrenal gland, and the hypercortisolism was making her gain weight in her torso, and she had this fatty deposit like a dowager's hump on the back of her neck. She wondered, looking at my hump, if I might have the same thing.
I went online to various places, and printed out information about Cushing's, just to see if I needed to request a test for this from my family doctor. All the symptoms are just vague enough that probably 3/4's of the world would qualify: Upper body fat -- check. Lumpy neck -- check. Thin skin that often cracks -- double check. Stretch marks -- BIG check. Rounded, "Moon Pie" face -- yeah. Irregular or stopped menstrual periods -- yup. Decreased libido -- uh-huh. Putting all this info together, I called my doc's office. I made an appointment. When I arrived, I had to explain to my doc what Cushing's was. I showed her the information I had gleaned from various sources. Together, we looked through all of it, and decided that even though the symptoms were vague, I had enough of them to warrant a test. Dr. T. makes an appointment for me with an endocrine doctor. Based on his assessment, and Dr. T's best guess, we decide to do the test.
The definitive test at the time (and it might still be, for all I know) is a 24 hour urine sample. The urine is tested, and is supposed to fall into a category numbered from around 1 to 7. If your urine is on one end of the spectrum, you're normal. On the other end, you have Cushing's. Dr. T. and I talk about what the test results might show. Dr. T. calls me back, and tells me that, according to the test readings, I have Cushing's. We discuss treatment options. Based on the hump, Dr. T. thinks that it's likely that my tumor is at the base of the brain, but that we'll have to do CAT scans and MRI's in order to be sure. The treatment is much the same as chemotherapy. I'll have to have surgery -- basically, brain surgery -- to get rid of the tumor. I get this news on a Friday. Dr. T. tells me to break the news to my family, and to come in on Monday, and we'll set up all the necessary scans and tests at the hospital.
I tell JF, and we both panic. I try and explain to my little one that Mommy will be very sick, and in the hospital for a while. I even write out my will. I decide that I'll do whatever I have to do in order to be around for the next 75 years. I'll fight it! I'll become an expert on Cushing's overnight! In the cold dawn of Monday morning, however, I get a call from a sheepish Dr. T. -- she's read the results *completely* backwards! I *don't* have Cushing's. I never did. It was a new doctor, reading unfamiliar test results. I'm so relieved that being angry is the farthest thing from my mind. It turns out I'm just lumpy after all.
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