Sharmyn McGraw searched for answers for seven years for whatever it was that was killing her; finally she diagnosed herself via the Internet with Cushing’s disease, caused by a pituitary brain tumor. http://www.hormone411.org
One of my least favorite things about my life with chronic illness is having imaging appointments. Whether it’s my yearly brain MRI, or a chest X-ray, the whole process is uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful.
Usually, when a physician wants me to have imaging, they will schedule an appointment, usually the soonest available is a week or two out, sometimes more depending on the test. You usually have to arrive at the hospital 15-30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time, on top of that, there is typically a wait…
Insomnia was one of the first things that troubled me enough to try to get help for with Cushing’s Disease. By my last year in music school, I had flipped my schedule around. I felt best and got more done if I practiced through the night and slept through the day. That year was wonderful for productivity because I was able to do what worked best with my body. A couple of years later, my sleeping problems had taken over my life. I was trying to get a diagnosis. In school for a second and third bachelor’s degree while working at Starbucks, I barely slept. Because I wasn’t sleeping, I decided to just keep busy….
What have you learned about the medical community since you have become sick?
This one is so easy. I’ve said it a thousand times – you know your own body better than any doctor will. Most doctors have never seen a Cushing’s patient, few ever will in the future.
If you believe you have Cushing’s (or any other rare disease), learn what you can about it, connect with other patients, make a timeline of symptoms and photographs. Read, take notes, save all your doctors notes, keep your lab findings, get second/third/ten or more opinions. Make a calendar showing which days you had what symptoms. Google calendars are great for this.
This is your life, your one and only shot (no pun intended!) at it. Make it the best and healthiest that you can.
When my friend and fellow e-patient Dave deBronkart learned he had a rare and terminal kidney cancer, he turned to a group of fellow patients online and found a medical treatment that even his own doctors didn’t know. It saved his life.
In this video he calls on all patients to talk with one another, know their own health data, and make health care better one e-Patient at a time.