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in the paper again!
After years, mystery ills diagnosed
April 3, 2005
By JANET MARSHALL
Jayne Kerns holds her daughter, Catherine,
and son, Brian,
in Spotsylvania County. Kerns is determined to raise awareness
an uncommon hormonal disorder that often leads to
fatigue, weight gain, high blood pressure and other problems.
On the day her life changed for the better, Laura Zastrow was exhausted. So
much so that she almost didn't go to the Quantico commissary, as she'd planned.
For years, Zastrow had felt run down without knowing why. One doctor chalked
it up to depression. But that afternoon at Quantico, a stranger offered another
diagnosis: Cushing's disease.
Rare and often misdiagnosed, Cushing's causes fatigue, weight gain, hair
growth, mood swings, high blood pressure and other ills, all familiar to Zastrow.
The stranger, Jayne Kerns, recognized her own puffy face and hairy
arms in Zastrow.
"I said, 'I feel like I'm looking in the mirror,'" Kerns said.
Kerns encouraged Zastrow to check out a Cushing's Web site, which Zastrow
did. Every symptom listed matched her condition. Her doctor ran some tests, and
the results confirmed Zastrow had Cushing's, a hormonal disorder often brought
on by a tumor.
The chance meeting in September 2003 transformed Zastrow's life. In the
months since, she's had surgery to remove a large tumor on her pituitary gland
and rediscovered her old, healthier self.
"My energy is coming back," said Zastrow, of Locust Grove. "I've lost a lot
of weight. I feel good. I don't feel like I'm in a fog anymore."
Kerns, of Spotsylvania County, has made it a mission to raise as much
awareness as possible of Cushing's since being diagnosed with the disease in
2000. She's written President Bush asking him to declare a National Cushing's
Awareness Day in April.
Her meeting with Zastrow was first described in a Free Lance-Star profile of
Kerns in 2004. At the time, nobody yet knew just how life-altering that meeting
It emboldened Kerns to keep reaching out to people she thinks have the
disease. And it gave Zastrow hope for a healthier, more energetic future.
"I was at the point where I was deteriorating so fast that if Jayne wouldn't
have approached me, I honestly don't know what would have happened," Zastrow
said recently. "Obviously, I didn't know anything about [Cushing's], and neither
did my doctors."
For those with the disease, April 8 is the unofficial day to recognize it and
the man--Dr. Harvey Cushing--who first put a name to it.
People with Cushing's suffer from excessive levels of cortisol, the body's
stress hormone. The condition can be caused by long-term use of certain drugs,
such as prednisone for asthma.
Often, Cushing's stems from an overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal
glands. The pituitary gland sometimes over-stimulates the adrenals, triggering
the problem. Tumors on the adrenal or pituitary often are at the root of the
problem, and treatment can involve removing the glands.
Kerns' diagnosis followed months of maddening efforts to pinpoint why her
body deteriorated, and never recovered, after childbirth.
She said she was misdiagnosed many times, and that one doctor, frustrated by
her recurrent problems, told her he no longer had time to listen to her and
referred her to another physician.
Kerns ultimately had her adrenal glands removed.
Each year, 10 to 15 people out of every million are thought to be affected by
Cushing's, making it highly uncommon.
"Doctors think that Cushing's is too rare for people to have it," Kerns said.
"And I truly believe that it is not as rare as people think."
Another local woman, Jennifer Belokon of Fredericksburg, has Cushing's. She
was serving in the Army in Iraq when she began feeling weak and gaining weight,
adding 60 pounds in three months.
The Army flew her out of Iraq and sent her to Walter Reed Medical Center.
After being diagnosed with Cushing's, she had her adrenal glands removed.
"Now, I have no adrenaline, no steroids or anything that will help me produce
that second wind when doing anything," Belokon wrote in an e-mail.
Yet she's resumed exercising and is training to run the Rock 'n' Roll
half-marathon in Virginia Beach in September. She ran a 10-mile race a few
"My time was nothing big," Belokon wrote. "But I was proud of myself for
Getting treated for Cushing's is life-altering, all three women said. Just
finding out what's wrong is profound because a diagnosis often follows months or
years of mysterious and unsettling ailments.
"It changes people's lives when they figure out what's going on," Kerns said.
"It's kind of like discovering that you have diabetes, and then you get insulin.
You find something that's going to make you feel better."
For more information on the disease and its symptoms, which include purple
stretch marks, check out
cushings-help.com or csrf.net.
To reach JANET MARSHALL: 540/374-5527
Copyright 2005 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.
National Institutes of Health, Vital Medical Resource
The NIH Public Bulletin can be a wonderful resource for you to learn about the
many interesting events and resources targeted for the public sponsored by NIH
Institutes and Centers.
The March 2005 NIH Public Bulletin is online and can be found at:
For prior issues, visit
Patient Issues with Insurance? Employer? Creditor? Patient Advocate
Foundation is a national (US) non-profit organization that serves as an active
liaison between the patient and their insurer, employer and/or creditors to
resolve insurance, job retention and/or debt crisis matters relative to their
diagnosis through case managers, doctors and attorneys. Patient Advocate
Foundation seeks to safeguard patients through effective mediation assuring
access to care, maintenance of employment and preservation of their financial
Awareness Day. We are currently petitioning to have April 8 be
declared as Cushing's Awareness day. This date was chosen because it
was Dr. Harvey Cushing's Birthday.
Print out a sample letter
to send to your congress person or senator or download it in
More information here
See what Jayne has done! She wrote to her representative and she's now
Congressional Record. She has her first response and it's a
Jayne presented a table full of Cushing's info at her local Health Fair In
Fredericksburg, VA. She plans to set up something similar at the NIH Health
and Wellness Fair May 15th.
Double click on any photo to view full-sized.
A Message Board area has been added to discuss ideas for making Cushing's
Awareness Day a reality. Please do what you can to help the cause! Thank you
for helping to make this
Cushing's Awareness Day a reality!
welcome your articles, letters to the editor, bios and Cushing's
Submit a Story or Article to either the snailmail CUSH Newsletter or to
an upcoming email newsletter at
These articles are provided in furtherance of the mission of
Cushing's Help and Support to help people with Cushing's or other endocrine
problems, their friends and families through research, education, support,
and advocacy. These news items are intended to serve as background
concerning its subject for patient-physician discussions and discussions
Cushing's Help and Support Message Board Members.
These articles contain
information by authors and publishers that is subject to the Copyright Act
of 1976, and "fair use doctrine" therein, effective on January 1, 1978 (17
U.S.C. § 101 et seq.). Cushing's Help and Support makes no representation
that the information and any of the views or comments contained in these
articles are completely accurate or current. Cushing's Help and Support
takes no responsibility for any of the content.
Silence is golden
Chronic noise affects health, productivity and interpersonal relationships.
Getting away from the racket is important for good health, says ARUNA CHANDARAJU.
No Noise Please.
WHEN the Sharmas' six-year-old son Vineet began to get increasingly irritable,
prone to throwing tantrums and even perform poorly in his studies, they
attributed it to a lot of things. Adjustment problems at his new school, the bad
company of the boy next door, or lack of parental attention because both had
busy corporate jobs. Anything but the real problem: a chronic-noise environment.
The Sharmas had been living near a big airport for five years now. Following
their paediatrician Dr. S. Raghunath Rai's revelation of the root cause of the
problem, the Sharmas relocated to a quieter neighbourhood.
While the levels and dangers of noise pollution are well-documented and everyone
knows what an irritant and stressor noise is, what is lesser known is that
chronic noise can also cause mental distress, ulcers, migraines, acidity,
non-cooperative behaviour, aggression, learning impairment, and even contribute
to musculo-skeletal and heart problems.
Tinnitus or a ringing sound within the ears (even when there is no noise in
the surroundings) is another consequence.
In fact, experts point to how Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is gradually
becoming an urban phenomenon. Given the growing number of sources of noise and
constant exposure to it, people are at the risk of becoming deaf from all that
Typical offenders are machinery, generator sounds, power tools, vehicles with
modified silencers and recreational noise. Which means musicians and DJs in
noise-high pubs and clubs or those who frequently perform at high-volume musical
nites are prone to NIHL due to continuous exposure. Even audiences at these
places are vulnerable.
Even at home, the neighbourhood mela or religious function, blaring film
songs from loudspeakers or firecrackers at Diwali harm you.
Effects on health
As Mumbai-based ENT specialist Rajesh Rathod points out: "Eight hours of
exposure to 85-dB noise on a daily basis can begin to damage your ears over a
period of time."
Other alarming examples: Listening to stereo headsets (at 110 dB), attending
a rock concert (at l20 dB, using power tools (at 100 dB), or hearing a gunshot
(at 140 to 170 dB) may damage the hearing of some people instantly or after a
In fact, a sudden noise exposure can cause a temporary threshold shift or a
temporary hearing loss, from which one can recover only after two to three
Permanent hearing loss may also occur from a sudden blast of sound. The pity
is that loud, unwanted noise is everywhere.
Especially in metros, where we encounter high levels of noise in traffic, in
homes (from our TVs, music systems), malls, markets, restaurants, offices, etc.
Areas around airports and railway stations or noisy factories/manufacturing
units are the most vulnerable. All with alarming consequences.
Especially when the noise is louder and over a longer duration.
"Prolonged exposure to loud noise causes a distortion of the brain
biochemistry, disturbances in the endocronological systems and increased
pressure on the autonomic nervous system leading to irritability, anger and
sadness, insomnia, depression, besides increased heart rate and hypertension,"
says Dr C.R. Chandrashekar, Head, Department of Psychiatry, National Institute
of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences, Bangalore. He adds that prolonged noise
increases fatiguability — the tendency to get tired easily.
Children, he points out, can show adjustment problems at home and school.
"They tend to get angry easily, throw tantrums, and are less focussed in their
studies and at home, tend to overreact to situations."
As for adults, it leads to stress, or increases existing stress-levels the
person is under. With the result, he/she tends to lose his temper more easily,
show signs of frustration. This even strains interpersonal relationships.
Delhi-based civil engineer Deepak Somnath explains that, typically, his
one-hour drive to and from his office, takes him through high-traffic areas and
past noisy and highly crowded markets.
"The blaring horns, the sounds of two-wheelers and three-wheelers as they rev
up, and also those hawkers shouting at the top of their voices: I feel more
stressed by just these two hours than my eight-hour workday at the office."
He is even increasingly irritable and liable to snap at family members as
soon as he reaches home. This was not the case when he worked in small town
Indore two years ago explains his wife. And Deepak ruefully agrees.
And 67-year-old Sujatha Shanmughan in Chennai suffers from tinnitus after
living eight years next to a factory, which cared little to control the very
high noise levels it generated. Confined to bed with a severe illness she had no
means of getting away.
She often wonders about the effects on the health of the workers who, being
inside the factory, must have been exposed to higher decible levels.
In fact, workplace-environment noise forms a major area of concern in the
work of occupational-safety experts: professionals who study how workplaces can
be hazardous in various ways. Significantly, even continuous low-level noise can
be an insidious stressor.
A study by psychologist and international expert on environmental stress,
Gary Evans of Cornell University, revealed that children living in noisier
neighbourhoods experienced higher overnight levels of the stress-hormone
cortisol, marginally higher blood pressure, and greater heart reactivity in
stress tests. Academic performance is also affected.
Other studies show that compared to children from noisier neighbourhoods,
children living near airports/railway stations or busy highways tend to have
lower reading skills and develop language skills more slowly.
You are not immune even at the workplace. Even safe offices (as opposed to
noisy factories or manufacturing units, mentioned above) and white-collar
workers are vulnerable.
In another study by Evans, two groups of employees were studied. One worked
in a typical open-area office space where people are exposed to `typical 'office
noise: employee chatter; typing sounds and noise from fax machines, printers,
shredding machines, and ringing desk phones and mobiles. The other group worked
in a quiet office with self-contained workspaces.
The first group had high levels of adrenalin (a hormone released by the body
under stress) while the second had comparatively low levels. Significantly, they
were also much more relaxed and less stressed at the end of their workday.
Noise also hampered performance and productivity. When a puzzle demanding
concentration and attention was given to both groups, employees from the `noisy'
office-surroundings were discovered to be less diligent and attentive. They even
tended to get frustrated and give up more easily than the quiet-office group.
The effect even spills over to the home, researchers discovered. Those from
the noisy office were observed to suffer sleep problems, had digestion problems,
and displayed irritability, unlike the other group.
© Copyright 2000 - 2005 The Hindu
The right exercise for diabetics
4/1/2005 5:25 AM
By: Ivanhoe Newswire
EMore than 18 million Americans live with diabetes. Insulin or oral
medications are needed to control the disease. There's something else that's
just as important, but only if it's done right.
Exercise is an important part of health. For diabetics, it could be
Exercise Physiologist Paul Frickman said, "A single bout of exercise can help
lower your blood sugar for 24 to 72 hours." Paul has a few tips.
First, don't exercise under certain types of stress. "If you're blood sugar
is too high, if you're sick, if it's too cold or too hot outside, all those are
stress and actually could cause your blood sugar to go up," said Paul.
Stress releases hormones like epinephrine and cortisol, which increase sugar
levels. Dehydration also raises blood sugar, so drink one cup of water for every
20 minutes of exercise. And it's just as important to keep your level from
dropping too low.
Exercise is an important part of health. For diabetics, it could be
life-saving. Paul said, "The medication is causing your blood sugar to lower as
well as the exercise, so that double impact could significantly lower your blood
If levels are below 100, eat 15 grams of carbs with protein before you work
out. Mike lagnese's blood sugar used to hover around 400; well above the healthy
range of 70 to 110.
"I was overweight, tired all the time, always out of breath," said Mike. Then
he started exercising. He no longer needs the 180 units of daily insulin that
kept him alive.
Mike said, "I feel like I've accomplished something, and I'm really happy."
And mike is proof that, for diabetics, exercise may be the next best thing to a
The worst time to exercise? First thing in the morning before you eat or take
Insulin resistance is highest in the morning, so the added stress of exercise
may cause blood sugar to rise if no medication is on board.
To add or edit your bio,
please click here »
Elle is not yet diagnosed.
Janie had laparoscopic adrenal
surgery in October 2003
Fort Worth, Texas
Kathi K hopes to have another surgery in June 2005 to cure
Lori L has many symptoms
MaryO has updated her bio to include Growth Hormone and other med changes
DC Metro area
Rachel has a recurrence of a pituitary tumor
that was removed December 15, 2004
is not yet diagnosed.
Sandy will have surgery on April 12 2005 to
remove the left adrenal and mass.
Springford, ON Canada
SherryC has a pituitary tumor on the right side displacing the pituitary to
• If you've been diagnosed with Cushing's, please
participate in the
Cushing's Register »
The information you provide will be used to create a register
and will be shared with the medical world. It would not be used
for other purposes without your expressed permission. Note:
This information will not be sold or shared with other
Lynne Clemens, Secretary of
CUSH Org is be the
person responsible for the creation of this register. If you
have any questions you may contact her at
You do not have to be a member of CUSH to fill out this
questionnaire, as long as you are a Cushing’s patient. We do not
believe that the world has an accurate accounting of Cushing’s
patients. The only way to authenticate accuracy is with actual
numbers. Your help will be appreciated. Thank you."
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|Upcoming Conventions, Meetings and Seminars:|
April 8, 2005, Cushing's Awareness Day. This date was chosen because it was Dr. Harvey Cushing's Birthday.
Wear your pin with
pride! More info here »
April 9-10, 2005,
(Australia) National APF [Australian Pituitary Foundation] Strategic Planning Meeting Weekend, Ph: 02 9594 5550, Email: email@example.com.
21, 2005, Third Thursdays. A new DC Metro Area once
monthly meeting for lunch.
More info here »
April 25, 2005, Acromegaly Patient Education Day, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Contact: Jamie Lipman Ph: 1-617-724-1838 More info here »
May 3, 2005, Greater Chicago Pituitary Support Group: Prolactinomas. More info here »
14, 2005, New England Meeting, Albany, NY.
More info here »
May 15, 2005, 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., NIH Share the Health: Health and Fitness Expo,
Wheaton, MD. More info here »
June 4-7, 2005, ENDO 2005, San Diego. Mainly for physicians, but patients may attend. More info here »
July 21-24, 2005, MAGIC Foundation Convention, Chicago, OHare Marriott. For Growth Hormone patients and their families. More info here »
July 23-31, 2005, Pituitary Awareness Week, Australian Pituitary Foundation, Ph: 02 9594 5550 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
July 23, 2005, (Australia) NSW APF Patient Education Seminar,
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, Ph: 02 9594 5550 Email: email@example.com
August 6-7, 2005, The Diabetes Insipidus Foundation,
Second Annual Conference, The Diabetes Insipidus Foundation, Sheraton Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland USA, Contact: 5203 New Prospect Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043 USA, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, More info here »
September 3, 2005, (Scotland) 6th National Conference,
The Pituitary Foundation, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, More info here »
September 7, 2005, (Australia) Annual Scientific Meeting, Endocrine Society of Australia,
For health professionals, Perth Convention Centre, WA, More info here »
October 8, 2005, (Australia) APF [Australian Pituitary Foundation] Annual General Meeting, Ph: 02 9594 5550, Email: email@example.com
More upcoming local meetings are listed here »
Sign up for notification of local meetings. You need not be a CUSH member to participate.
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