Posts tagged ‘symptoms’

Symptoms and me

When googling for acromegaly symptoms at the early stages of my diagnosis, I usually found out that the main symptoms, the ones that take people to the doctors’, are enlargement of hands and feet, nose, jaw, lips and ears.

* Hands and feet: Recently I’ve been back to my parents’ and I’ve been trying old rings and old shoes… and guess what? I could wear the same shoes I wore to high school (10-15 years ago) because they fit perfectly (only they are not trendy anymore… and.. yes, for the record, I still keep some of them) and I could wear the same rings I wore back then (fashion trends and common sense put them -thank God- far, far away from me). I have normal size feet  (size 39) for my height (1m70).  My hands are slightly larger than average woman’s hands but, according to the rings, they haven’t changed in size in the past 15 years. I think having larger than average hands is due to the fact that I’ve been playing the piano since I was 4. That’s 24 years of playing the piano, and must have an influence in the body.

* Nose: I also looked through all the pictures and… well, given that the only feature that I might have larger than others is the nose, I was drawing my attention to the evolution of my nose in the last 28 years of my existence. And I’ve always had a slightly broad nose (which was of some concern when I was a teenager, but so were my freckles also). Well, blame my dad for that. My sis got my mother’s thin nose. I got my dad’s.

* Lips: well, I am one of the blessed ones. My dad gave me the DNA of full lips. Not as Ang.elina J.olie’s, but still 🙂

* Ears: I have/I’ve always had small ears. And they remain small. Again, coming from my dad’s side of the family.

* Jaw: apparently you know that you have an enlarged jaw when your teeth were together and now they are apart. My teeth were together prior to acromegaly diagnosis (after wearing brackets when I was 10) and now they got even closer together (thanks, wisdom teeth, now I’ll have to wear brackets again).

So, the usual symptom: enlargement of body parts … discarded.

Another of the symptoms of acromegaly can be hirsutism. Too much hair on the arms, face, legs… Well, yes. That’s what took me to the doctor’s some years ago, at the begining of this journey. A hormone review (including GH and IGF-1) showed that it was due to… nothing!. They also checked my ovaries looking forPCOS, but nothing was to be found. All doctors told me that I didn’t have that much hair, that there are out there real hairy women, that I am a normal one. All right, women in Spain tend to be hairier than in.. let’s say, Sweden, and they have to wax their moustaches. I still don’t have to wax or remove any facial hair, but I did see a change: from nothing at all to some thin blonde hairs and despite that’s less than 80% of the women I know, it was 100% too much for me and my skin type (fair and thin skin, freckles, light brown hair, a bit red -which I dye darker-). Later (a few months ago) a possible cause was found: a very, very light form of polycystic ovary sindrome (PCOS)… but I am not really sure. PCOS was diagnosed a few months ago, but hair has been for a few years already, when no PCOS was present.

Well, no enlargement, no excessive hair growth… what remains in the acromegaly symptom list? Headaches. Yes, I did have headaches. I already knew I had the chickpea (the adenoma) but I didn’t have any acromegaly symptom. I did have high GH but I didn’t have high values of IGF-1, so I wasn’t acromegalic. I wonder if that’s how acromegaly starts. Given that it produces no symptoms no one realises, but may be every acromegalic has had high GH for some years and then high IGF-1.

Then I had *the* symptom of a prolactin-producing adenoma: amenorrhoea. And the blood work suddendly showed high IGF-1. So, I was acromegalic all of a sudden, before any symptom related to it developed in me. Then, the surgery. Now, hormone values returned to normal and I am still a spitting image of what I was before surgery. That’s why I don’t post any picture timeline showing how I’ve changed. What I often wonder is if these 11 months of amonorrhoea, 11 months of too high prolactin, have led to the PCOS, because my ovaries were normal a few years ago, and it’s a condition usually diagnosed in your teens, not in your nearly thirties.

Well. I am thankful that my chickpea was a GH+PRL producing adenoma. Had it been less “dangerous” and only GH-producing, I wouldn’t have realised until the growth of my hands and coarsening of my skin had begun, possibly, in 10 years.

Here you go, two pictures, one game: one picture is 6 months before surgery (autumn 2007) and the other one is last month (6 months after surgery), but I’m not telling you which. Can you guess?

January 29, 2009 at 11:47 am 4 comments


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