Moxie’s Brain Tumour: Why my diagnosis was a relief
March 1, 2018 | by
Many of you that know me or visit the shop frequently have no doubt heard me talking about my health and noticed some major physical changes. Even 10 months after my surgery, customers are often shocked and confused to see me now and hear of my recent challenges. As I feel I am finally in a stable place of recovery, I am going to share my story with you.
So… *deep breath* here is the first part.
I had my 4th child in 2011 and was recovering from a shockingly tumultuous pregnancy and a birth that left me bleeding to death from a retained placenta. After 3 healthy pregnancies and textbook home births, this was the last thing anyone expected. And then, I struggled to maintain a healthy milk supply and had to stop nursing. I buried some deep shame for not being able to have a healthy pregnancy & birth and feed my baby.
Then came the inability to lose the weight after a life spent being extremely thin. My friends and family joked that my skinny life had finally come to an end and my age and lifestyle were catching up with me. Never having to think about my weight before, I developed a poisonous internal voice that convinced me I was disgusting.
Then, my body really started to fall apart.
Over the next six years my angular face became puffy & round. I grew a definable buffalo hump between my shoulders. My hands & feet swelled until I had to get new shoes and take my wedding rings off. I developed severe acne everywhere that never healed. Dark facial and body hair began to develop on my blonde body. My skin thinned and turned red. I was full of bruises, sores, and recurring boils. My faint silver stretch marks turned into angry purple striae. My cuticles cracked and bled constantly. My teeth broke. I couldn’t see properly through my newly prescribed glasses. I lost my hair in handfuls until half of it was gone. I continued to lactate. I had an insatiable thirst. I used the washroom a few times an hour, all day & night. I experienced muscle weakness and a pinched vertebrae nerve. I fell and blacked-out only to wake up on the floor full of injuries a few times. I oscillated between having super-human energy (16-20 hour self-imposed workdays) to being so bone-weary that I would fall asleep sitting at my computer. I always felt overheated and panicked. My emotional state was questionable. I gained a total of 70 pounds. People asked me on a regular basis when I was due because my abdomen was completely rounded, my breasts were huge (from a B to a HH), but I still had comically thin limbs. My body was open to constant public judgement and commentary. I quit my senior advertising job and stopped attending social functions because I hated how I looked and always having to explain my appearance. I felt constantly humiliated.
After being told by doctors for years that there really wasn’t anything wrong, I had some routine bloodwork done and was admitted to the hospital with glucose levels of 34 (Normal is 4-6, Coma is 16+). No-one understood why my sugars were so high and how my body was tolerating it without shutting down into a coma. With no history of family or gestational Diabetes, I was diagnosed with Type 2. I stopped eating because I didn’t want my symptoms to get worse. Secretly I stopped eating because I didn’t think I deserved to. I was ashamed of myself and embarrassed to tell people, because it proved how disgusting I really was… inside and out.
For months, doctors tried to convince me that I couldn’t have made myself this sick. That there must be something really wrong. That it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t really believe them but this gave me hope that maybe I could get better. The investigation to find out what was causing the resistant Diabetes was in full throttle. I met dozens of doctors, nurses, technicians, and specialists. I had CTs, MRIs, X-rays, diabetes management & dietician appointments, urine tests, blood tests, saliva tests, hormone tests, visual tests, Neurologist and Neuro-opthamology appointments, ENT exams, Endocrinology consults, hospital admitting appointments… It was constant and exhausting. Although my Diabetes diagnosis felt like a curse then, I now know it was a gift. It was the only quantifiable measure that convinced doctors to take my womanly, hormonal complaints seriously and to dig deeper to find the underlying cause.
All of these tests finally uncovered what was causing the Diabetes. I had Cushings Disease (nicknamed “The Ugly Disease”, for real). This is a very serious disease that explained all of the hormone craziness and physical transformations I had been experiencing over the last 6 years. And there are only a few ways to get it. My CT scans and MRIs confirmed I had a 9mm Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing pituitary tumour.
This whole time, this tumour growing inside my head was responsible for everything. When I was informed I had a brain tumour, I wasn’t scared or angry or upset. I was relieved and it felt as though weights were lifted off of me. It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t actually disgusting. It wasn’t my fault. Something beyond my control was responsible for my current condition. I didn’t do this to myself. It wasn’t my fault. Now we could try and fix it. It wasn’t my fault.
It was time for me to change my hateful & pervasive internal monologue and get my body and mind ready for the next step — surgery.
If you have any questions, please ask. If you need any help dealing with any of the above issues, please reach out. If you’d like to learn more about Pituitary tumours, please check out this resource from St. Michael’s hospital. And, if you’ve been diagnosed with a brain tumour, please contact The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.