Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Pheochromocytomas - what are they and what affect do they have on people?

Those that have known me for a long time will have seen a change in my behaviour from when I was off ill last year, we all put this down to me having to change my medication and then struggling to find the right ones to work for me, even my doctor has got frustrated as I have continously told her that the tablets are not working.

After talking to other VHL sufferers, I now have a better understanding of what is happening with me mentally and why, so I thought what better way to try and explain it to those who have never heard of VHL or understand what tumors in certain parts of your body can do or change a person.

There is a website out there in the tinternet called VHL Family Alliance and they have just carried out a survey on this particular type of tumor, the write up is very spooky as so much of it rings true with me, the next few paragraphs are extracts from the report and detail exactly what I have and am experiencing.

Delayed Diagnosis Hurts:
During the time people were waiting for their diagnosis, people reported many serious issues. First, of course, their symptoms worsened, making it difficult to concentrate, undermining their energy and stamina. As the tumors grew, serious emotional fragility developed, sometimes resulting in explosive temper which caused problems at work and in relationships. Even worse, the fact that their doctors did not believe they were sick, or accused them of using drugs, or of hypochondria or other psychiatric disorders had a severe impact on their feelings of self-worth and frequently led to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Many said they felt they had lost control of their lives. People with such advanced tumors often had some of the symptoms even after the tumor was removed.

No one believed I was sick:
As people read our checklist of symptoms that might occur, several were surprised to realize they could be indicative of a pheo. Some said they were embarrassed to discuss some of these symptoms with their doctor, not thinking they were related: heavy sweating, constipation or chronic diarrhea, nervous tremors or tics, anxiety or feelings of doom. Dizziness, fatigue, and headaches were usually reported.

Heart Disease:
The chemicals generated by the pheo may cause the heart to race, the blood pressure to become erratic, nervous tics, and/or moderate to severe headaches, all of which might raise concerns of a heart attack or stroke

Psychological Issues:
When patients report anxiety, panic attacks, feelings of doom, fatigue, sometimes alternating with spurts of boundless energy, and mood swings for no good reason, it is logical to think this person is under stress at home, work or school, or has some more serious psychological issue going on. Many people were referred for psychiatric counseling and/or prescribed drugs.

  • Severe emotional trauma within the family unit by constant disregard by health professionals and being made to feel like idiots when clearly something serious was occurring.
  • The first pheo took 3 years to find. I thought I had major psychiatric issues during that time.
  • If the doctors tell you often enough that you’re crazy, you begin to believe it. Certainly my wife believed them and left with the kids.
  • I found it difficult to control my anger when my adrenaline spiked (recognized it after diagnosis)
  • Anxiety so bad that at one time I was suicidal and even self-medicated with alcohol and felt better when I did this. As soon as I got sober, the issues came back.
I recognise so much from those paragraphs above and even more from the comments some of the people on the Survey made and even though I am really scared, I am also really relieved that I do have something growing inside me that is causing all these issues and it can be taken away from me.

I have two hospital appointments to go to over the next couple of weeks, 29th Sept and 3rd Oct, hopefully by then I will have answers and a plan of action on how we are going to tackle this and make me better, my GP is still not convinced these Pheos are active but I know my mind and body better than anyone else and I know something is not right and hasn't been for ages.

During this time I have also lost and upset some very dear friends because I could not control my emotions, temper or anxiety, I just wish I had known there was a reason behind it as I might have been able to explain to them better why I was being so unreasonable.

I still live in hope,
Shellie B

If you want to read the full survey it can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. i really hope ppl read this and understand what your going threw , having these tumors is no joke , and beleave it or not these tumors can cause this and sometimes people do die , i have lost a member of my family to these tumors and nearly lost my son and as for me i was at a very bad stage due to this , very well said and explained


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