I’m not sure where to begin, so I’ll cover the highlights leading up to the loss of my pituitary gland.
In 2009, while stationed in the UK on a US Airbase in Suffolk, I started noticing some strange things happening to my body. My hands and feet grew two sizes. No matter how hard I worked in the gym, I kept gaining weight. Additionally, I was having vertigo and trouble sleeping. That spring, I was deployed to a small operation to the Middle East. There, I kept getting head rushes and then a small ache on the right side of my head. The ache was diagnosed as a sinus headache. I dedicated myself to work and physical fitness, as the military frowns on weak people. While the headache was persistent, I noticed a change in my workout routine. My endurance was increasing rapidly, along with perspiration and the headache. Within three months I lost 30 pounds, and was gaining solid muscle.
Something else was happening as well. I was short-tempered and would snap at the smallest things. My body was acting as if I was on steroids, but I had not taken a single pill. Furthermore, I was having constant erections – very embarrassing at the time. In August of the same year, the outrages grew with the headache. I’d spend three hours in the gym tent and feel like I could go on forever!
Then I noticed my eyesight in my right eye was fading…more like an eclipse shadowing my eye. The field doctors said it was part of the sinus problem, and not to worry. I continued on until one morning my head was hurting so bad I stayed in my rack for the day, and didn’t re-emerge for 10 to 15 days. During that time I could not eat. Nothing would stay down. My head was pounding and my eyesight was lost in my right eye. I was hallucinating and I knew for sure that I was dying.
On top of all this, I was urinating gallons (or so it seemed) every 30 to 45 minutes. Most of the time the urge was so bad I could not make it to the toilet, a 50 yard walk, and would wet myself hoping no-one had seen me. I’d return to my tent with the unbelievable pain and do this over and over 24 hours a day. In addition to the pain, the blindness, and dehydration, I found all the hard work in the gym simply faded away overnight.
One day the pain started to fade away, but not the blind eye. I finally had enough strength to make it to the chow hall where I had my first meal (cold cereal) and kept it down. I was 25 pounds lighter, confused and scared of everyone. My urination output was still every 30-45 minutes. My skin was white and I knew something big had happened to me.
My job was done and I was hanging around waiting for my rotation date to go back to England, thin weak and scared. When I went to my home station in Suffolk, I reported to the base hospital and I was told nothing was wrong with me – 10 November 2009. After weeks of no diagnosis, and the holiday shutdown, and passing out constantly, I was finally seen by an endocrinologist on 4 January 2010 – thank God! I was given hydrocortisone, and sent to Addenbrookes hospital for a MRI/CT scan. The scan showed I no longer had a pituitary. A tumour had enveloped the gland and completely destroyed it. The doctors were puzzled, they don’t know how I survived and untreated, all these months.
That’s the short version. I now live in the United States, wishing every day I could receive the care and understanding that I received at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.