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What to do if you are diligently dieting but still getting fat

Posted Oct 23 2008 6:33pm
Came across an article "Misdiagnosed" by Victoria Spence in this month's Reader's Digest. It tells a story of how Joyce Dixon, who was diligently dieting but was still getting uncontrollably obese. Not only that, she was getting bruised without causse and a highly regarded endrocrinologist refused to make an appointment to see her probably suspecting that she is not following recommended diet and getting abused by her loving husband. I read the whole article, and I am of a conclusion that no natural remedy could have helped her, so that is why I am putting a summary of what she went through in this blog so that others who have the same problem as her need not go through the ordeal she went through.

She was misdiagnosed for 15 years before she found out what she was suffering from and got the help she needed. She found out that others who had the same problem on the average took 7 years before learning about their real problem, and the majority of them were divorced. So she must be really appreciating her loving husband who stuck with her through her trials and tribulations. I hope this post will alert those who have the same problem as Joyce, and not have to go through the ordeal she went through.

Here is her story. For 15 years, no matter what diet Joyce followed, she gained rather than lost weight. Her legs were swollen and weak and she had problems climbing stairs. Her hair was falling out, her eyesight blurry and her skin red and blotchy. She find difficulties getting to sleep and had mood dramatic mood swings. Worst, her doctors didn't know what was her problem, so frequently just blaming it on obesity that she accepted the diagnosis.

Although she was never super thin, she remembered that in her university days, she was a cute and active cheerleader. Whenever she gained weight, she would diet and she would lose weight.

She married Al Dixon in 1975. Soon after that, she put on weight and couldn't get rid of it. She followed a radical no-carb diet that was designed to induce ketosis, which causes the body to burn stored fat for energy. She did loose weight but felt lethargic. Her doctor diagnosed an underactive thyroid and prescribed medication to regulate that. However, her weight continued to fluctuate.

She had great willpower with her diet and even attend regular aerobic lessons. Although she stayed with the diet, she gained weight. When her family moved to San Francisco, she was referred to a renal doctor who monitored her thyroid condition and her medication. She gained weight 20 80 kg. She enrolled in the Obesity and Risk Factor Program of San Francisco. She went on a low-calorie liquid diet and lost 18 kg at first, but started to gain weight again. Her leg began to swell, her fingernails became brittle and her hair fell out. She became jaundiced, bruised for no apparent reason and suffered severe memory loss.

She was referred to a highly regarded endocrinologist who refused to make an appointment to see her, likely thinking she wasn't following the diet.

In 1994, her family moved to Dayton. She was no longer seeing specialist, but was following a low-fat, low calorie diet of 1000 calorie a day, but still gain weight.

In May 1995, she went to the Mayo Clinic for an evaluation. The diagnosis was obesity. The following year, her health problem began to increase again, even thought she wasn't on any diet. She couldn't remember things and had to write down everything she had to do.

In January 1997, Joyce went to see Dr. Susan Galbraith, who recently finished a fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Galbraith diagnosed her problem as Cushing's Syndrome, a rare hormonal disorder. Test confirmed Cushing's disease, the most common form of the syndrome. Patients with this disorder go undiagnosed an average of 7-8 years. Joyce was misdiagnosed for nor than 15 years.

The symtoms of Cushing's are caused by prolonged exposure to high level of cortisol. In Joyce's case, it was caused by a tumour on her pituiary gland which stimulate her body to produce dangerously high level of cortisol. The treatment is surgery.

Joyce's husband researched and found the success is directly related to how experienced the neurosurgeon is. He eventually chosed endrocrinologist Dr. Beverly Biller and neurosurgeon Dr. Brooke Swearingan of Massachussetts General Hospital in Boston.

Joyce surgery went without a hitch and her recovery was swift. The weight stayed off, the bruising and swelling on her legs disappeared. Now to prevent others from suffering for so long, she now volunteers with Cushing's Foundation at medical conferences to increase awareness of the disease among the medical community.

So if you are dilligently dieting but still gaining weight, ask your doctor about Cushing's syndrom.
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