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Cushing's Syndrome and Seizures.

Cushing's Syndrome (also called hypercortisolism or hyperadrenocorticism) is an endocrine disorder caused by high levels of cortisol in the blood from a variety of causes, including a pituitary adenoma (known as Cushing's disease [This is what I was diagnosed with.]), adrenal hyperplasia or neoplasia, ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) production (e.g., from a small cell lung cancer), and iatrogenic (steroid use). Normally, cortisol is released from the adrenal gland in response to ACTH being released from the pituitary gland. Both Cushing's syndrome and Cushing's disease are characterized by elevated levels of cortisol in the blood, but the cause of elevated cortisol differs between the two disorders. Cushing's disease specifically refers to a tumour in the pituitary gland that stimulates excessive release of cortisol from the adrenal gland by releasing large amounts of ACTH. In Cushing's disease, the pituitary gland does not respond as it should with negative feedback to high levels of cortisol, and continues to produce ACTH.

Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease) usually does not directly cause seizures. Hyperadrenocorticism is usually caused by a tumor of the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. These tumors are usually microscopic, but a sub-type, called a macroadenoma, can sometimes enlarge enough to put pressure on the brain to cause neurologic signs, including seizures. In essence, this is a type of brain tumor. Also, hyperadrenocorticism can predispose to to a stroke which can cause seizures.

In 1998, (if I'm remembering correctly) I was putting a load of clothes into the washing machine, when I fell to the floor. My mom heard my wheezing, gurgling, and struggling noises clear across the house, and rushed to me. I was having a grand mal seizure... I was sixteen. My little brother called 911, and the next thing I remember after attempting to start the load of laundry, is being in the living room, paramedics all around me, an IV already in the back of my hand... They asked so many questions! Who was that person, what color was this... What day was today? Its such and such o'clock. Remember that, we'll ask you later. They asked me what my dog's name was, as I was being wheeled into the ambulance. I remembered the dog's name. Then they asked me what my mom's name was. I told them she was, "Second street." I was diagnosed with 'idiopathic epilepsy'... Which meant, I had seizures, but the docs couldn't figure out why. So, they put me on a low dose anticonvulsant. I had perhaps six to eight grand mal seizures, between 1998 and 2003. Not a heck of a lot, but I was on anticonvulsants most of the time...

After you've had a seizure of that 'caliber', its like you've been hit by a truck. Never once did I loose control of my bowels or bladder, never once did I throw up... But afterwards, I was always intensely confused. I always end up with an insanely bad headache, feeling like I've just been through the workout of a lifetime, under the direction of the world's most insane personal trainer. During a grand mal, its like every single muscle in your body tenses up, flexes, strains itself against every other muscle in your body. Its a horrible feeling, to one minute be doing something like cooking breakfast over the grill at your mother's restaurant, and suddenly wake up on the couch at home, not knowing how you got there or why your head feels like Thor himself is pounding railroad spikes right through your brain.

In 2002, I had two tumors removed from my pituitary gland. Since then, I have had one seizure... Or rather, one episode that I recognized as a seizure. There have been a few times, when I wondered if perhaps I had had a seizure, but nothing serious.

But... Now, at least, there's one more person in the 'I have epileptic seizures' group! :P

iFortiTude iFortiTude 31-35 1 Response Aug 30, 2008

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Doctors don't know what I am having. I have a strong Dejavu thing going on. Then I have a feeling of cold radiating out from the center of my body. I can hear but cannot talk. Sometimes things look like they are going further away from me. I feel like I don't recognize where I am. Then its over and I feel like I am having a hot flash.