When I went to see my gynecologist for my annual exam in November 2016, I brought up some concerning symptoms I’d noticed throughout my body. In recent months, I’d experienced joint pain in my knees, swollen feet, carpal tunnel syndrome and excessive sweating and snoring. Additionally, my hands were so swollen my rings had to be cut off, and I noticed changes in my face, like the bridge of nose getting wider.
I thought some of these symptoms were just signs of aging. Never in a thousand years would I have thought I had a pituitary tumor.
Thankfully, my doctor took my concerns seriously and ordered a blood test. Several days later, he called with the results: my growth hormone levels were nearly three times higher than the normal range. He said it was likely caused by a benign (noncancerous) tumor of the pituitary gland and referred me to a local endocrinologist.
The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain and produces a number of important hormones that control different systems throughout the body. A brain MRI confirmed I had a pituitary tumor about the size of a large marble.
Choosing MD Anderson for my pituitary tumor care
My endocrinologist said I would need surgery to remove the pituitary tumor. He also said I would need to travel, as only a few facilities were capable of doing this type of delicate brain surgery.
MD Anderson was hands-down my first choice because it’s the best of the best! My husband and I drove 300 miles from New Boston, Texas, to Houston to meet with endocrinologist Jeena Varghese, M.D., and neurosurgeon Ian McCutcheon, M.D. Dr. McCutcheon said I’d probably had the tumor for years before I started experiencing symptoms.
My pituitary tumor surgery
On Feb. 1, 2017, I had endonasal transsphenoidal removal of my pituitary tumor. The endonasal transsphenoidal approach is a minimally invasive pituitary surgery that uses the nasal passages to access the tumor.
I tolerated the procedure well, even with a cerebrospinal fluid leak. I experienced wonderful care from the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson. I also had a great support system with my husband, three daughters, family and friends. As I prepared for and recovered from surgery, I found comfort in the “Clinging Cross” my daughter gave me as a reminder of God’s constant presence.
Symptoms improve after pituitary tumor surgery
Just four days after my surgery, I was discharged from the hospital and headed home. My symptoms have improved tremendously. My hands and feet have downsized, and my face has slimmed considerably. My joint pain is so much better. The snoring is also gone, and I just feel so much better overall.
Less than two months after surgery, my growth hormone levels returned back to normal, and Dr. Varghese says I don’t need any further treatment at this time. I feel very fortunate and blessed.
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