light through the trees

24 05 2011

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light through the trees, originally uploaded by KWDesigns.

KWDesigns has moved!

29 12 2007

KWDesigns has moved to its new permanent home:

ACTH Indepedent Cushing’s Syndrome

27 12 2007

After nearly a month of tests & waiting, I received a formal diagnosis from my doctor on Friday – I have ACTH Independent Cushing’s Syndrome. Ok…so what does this mean?

We have two adrenal glands, located in the abdominal cavity. One gland produces adrenaline & the other gland produces serveral different hormones such as cortisol and aldosterone. Simply stated, it’s an overproduction of cortisol in the body. Cortisol helps to maintain blood pressure and cardiovascular function, reduces the immune system’s inflammatory response, balances the effects of insulin in breaking down sugar for energy, and regulates the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

A tumor developed on one of my adrenal glands, causing it to produce too much cortisol and caused the other gland to stop producing all together. Good news is that it can be treated by the removal of the over active gland. I’ll have to be on hormone replacement therapy until the other gland can function normally on it own (long-term, short-term? don’t know yet).

Apart of me wanted to scream with joy, “Yes, I finally have an answer to this hell!” Now I know what’s wrong (and it’s not all in my head). This has to be the best Christmas present EVER – I get my body back.

Another part said, “Damn, more than 4 years of feeling like I’ve been trapped in someone else’s body.”

More than 4 years of killing myself in the gym with no results, 4 years of watching my once youthful, fit body become one that looked abused by overeating & lack of exercise, reluctantly buying the next size up in clothing (making sure to cut the tags out so I wouldn’t be reminded of the “new” size I’d become), 4 years of trying “alternative” eating regimens (only to become more obsessed with what I ate or didn’t eat).

This last year or so has been particularly difficult. I had begun to accept the fact that this is the way my body is going to look. Fine, I can deal with that. What I feel most saddened by is the decrease & down right lack of energy I’ve had. Plus, my body just f*&^ing hurt (joints, back, racing heart, hot sweats, swelling & bloating ALL the time). The list goes on & on…

Based on what my doctor has said & the information I’ve read so far, it appears that the surgery has a high success rate and my body should return to “normal” once the tumor is removed. If everything goes according to plan, the surgery will take place by the end of January. Looks like 2008 is going to be a big year indeed.

Cushings Disease: The Obesity Tumor

19 12 2007

Pregnancy can do strange things to a woman’s body. I had my son more than 4 years ago & my body has yet to return to normal…

When my son was about one, I gave up on losing the 40+ lbs of pregnancy weight. I’m a fitness instructor & know how to eat right & lose weight, but nothing I did seemed to have an affect.

Over the next 3 years, I started experiencing symptoms related to Cushings disease. Individually, these symptoms don’t appear to be all that alarming, but collectively they can become life threatening.

All this time, I thought the symptoms I was experiencing were over exaggerated figments of my imagination…The inability to lose weight & continually gaining weight, bloating & water retention, puffiness in the face, insomnia, hot sweats, bruising, extreme fatigue and my favorite – a buffalo hump (my husband pointed this out to me about 6-8 months ago, concerned that I had poor posture spending so much time on the computer).

About 3 months ago, I decided to try to reclaim my body again and started working with a personal trainer. Two & half months passed with NO change. WFT?! I was at the end of my rope & came to the conclusion that something has to be wrong with my body. I was weight training for 40 min. 3x/wk and doing cardio 45 min 3 or 4x/wk. I had even resorted to eliminating carbs from my diet. Basically starving myself.

I went to my doctor to get a full check up. She took my blood pressure & it read 180/92! I was a stroke victim waiting to happen. I explained my exercise routine & my inability to lose weight. What’s wrong with me???

My blood work came back abnormal…Based on the initial results, she suspected it might be Cushings disease. She requested that I undergo more testing. Apparently Cushings disease is rare, affecting less than 200,000 people in the US population and is often times misdiagnosed.

After nearly a month of testing (blood work, urine collection and a MRI), it’s been officially confirmed that I have Cushings disease.

I’m bitterly conflicted. Apart of me feels relieved to have an answer as to why my body is the way it is. It validates all of the symptoms I tried so hard to brush off. For the same reasons, I’m frustrated that I lost more than 4 years with my body (Prior to getting pregnant, I was in the best shape of my life & loved to be active. I had completed my first Olympic distance triathlon in 3 hrs & 33 min and was training to climb Mt. Rainier).

There are two types of tumors that cause Cushings disease: pituitary tumors & benign adrenal tumors. Good news is that this disease is fully treatable with surgery. Preliminary MRI results show that I have a 3 cm benign adrenal tumor.

I still have a long road ahead, with more testing, additional doctor evaluations and eventually surgery. My doctor has informed me that once the tumor is removed, my body should return to normal, what ever that means…

My greatest hope is that my body will feel good on the inside AND outside. I’m ready to conquer my next triathlon…

Modmix: the organic cocktail mixer

4 12 2007

I was recently treated to a Modmix logo taster by Tricia McCracken, co-founder of Modmix. She prepared a variety of unique drink combinations – (the French Martini & Lavender Lemon Drop were my favorites.) I have to say I was impressed – the mixer was subtle & not too sweet.

Cool fact – Modmix is the first USDA approved organic cocktail mixer! It’s slowly but surely making its way to the mainstream market & is available in organic grocery stores in the Pacific NW & East coast. Not yet in bars…

Thanks Tricia!

Harmonica Man

23 11 2007

Harmonica Man

Harmonica man…ummm…play me a tune…just play me

Power of the Blog!

21 11 2007

I’ve received numerous comments in response to my recent experience with Washington Mutual and I’d like to respond with additional thoughts & feedback for those who are having a similar experience.

It’s extremely frustrating to go head to head with a massive corporation with substantial resources. One person, one voice trying to gain traction and cut through the corporate “red tape”- it’s impossible, right? WRONG.

With the growing popularity of social media & the focus shifting from appealing to the masses to focusing on the “individual” – you and I now have a voice that can’t be stifled. It’s no longer about strength in numbers. It’s about empowering the individual & making authentic connections with others who have similar interests, values & beliefs. Social media has changed the rules of “engagement” and it’s forced a lot of bullies off their soapbox. Online reputation is critical. It can quickly leverage a brand’s image. Or it has the power to send it down in flames – all with a few blog posts, forum discussions & emails.

Use the power of social media (blogs, forums, online communities, bookmarking etc.) to your advantage & see what happens…


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