A week ago, I experienced the most intense emotional roller coaster of my life.
Flashback 2 weeks –
I scheduled an MRI – this was a precautionary test that my doctor had requested, just to make sure that my amenorrhea is not a result of any pituitary disfunction. My doctor was almost certain that my amenorrhea was a result of female athletes triad – restrictive eating and over-exercise – but she wanted to be safe.
I was not worried about the MRI – my family was in town, and it was just precautionary. I went into the lab center and, to my surprise, was told that they would be injecting a dye into me halfway through the MRI. Immediately I began to panic – no one had warned me of this!
Now, I do not get claustrophobic, but let me tell you that the MRI almost pushed me over edge – you’re basically in a confined space, with a weird plastic contraption and white sheet over your face (to hold your head still) for 20 minutes.
Anyway, the dye injection turned out to be painless (though it made me a tiny bit nauseous), and I walked out of the MRI center as my usual self.
Flash forward 1 week –
My family had just flown out (they live overseas), and I received news from my doctor (via email) regarding my MRI results – turns out she had tried to call me, but I was at work and had missed a call.
THEY FOUND SOMETHING.
My doctor’s email said that the MRI indicated a very small Rathke’s Cleft Cyst. I was absolutely devastated, and spent the rest of the night oscillating between fear, sadness, despair, and anger.
I immediately scheduled follow-up visits and blood tests with my doctor, and scheduled an appointment with my endocrinologist. I was FREAKING out at the thought of a brain tumor – What did this mean for me? Would I be able to live a normal life? Would I need surgery? Would I be able to have children?
The Endocrinologist –
Long story short, I went in to see the endocrinologist who put me at ease – turns out 20% of the population has some sort of pituitary growth / tumor / cyst (whatever you want to call it), and most people spend their entire lives without even knowing and without any health complications as a result of it. However, one thing did confuse me – the endocrinologist diagnosed the MRI reading as a Pituitary Adenoma.
Pituitary Adenoma vs. Rathke’s Cleft Cyst –
Now, to my understanding (the doctors kind of confused me), a rathke’s cleft cyst is usually a liquid-filled, bubble (if you will), which is something that you are born with. It is harmless unless it expands and starts putting pressures on other structures in the brain, such as the optic chiasm, which can cause your peripheral vision to decrease. THANK THE LORD that in my case, the structure on my pituitary gland poses no threat.
By contrast; however, a pituitary adenoma is essentially a collection of cells. While both a pituitary adenoma and a cyst are benign (non-cancerous, and will not spread to the rest of the body), adenoma’s can sometimes secrete hormones. This prompted my endocrinologist to order some more blood tests in order to make sure that no extra hormones were being secreted.
Blood Test Results
Now, I am a results-oriented person, so my blood work speaks volumes. Two takeaways:
My estrogen levels are up to 19 (up from 14 last time) – this is a FABULOUS sign because this means my body is able to increase my levels on its own and that the pituitary adenoma / cyst is not causing my amenorrhea.
My cortisol levels (stress hormone) were super high (29 – normal range is 20-25 in the morning). While my doctor has ordered follow-up tests for this, she thinks the emotional roller coaster that I went through after learning about my MRI results is was prompted this spike in stress levels.
What I have learned –
My biggest takeaway from this crazy experience (as cliche as it may sound) is that life is short! It is SO important to take the time to be grateful for everything that we have – otherwise you have to learn it the hard way, when something goes wrong. I am so, incredibly grateful to be (generally) healthy, have a strong support system of incredible family and friends, and to be able to share my learning with you all!
If any of you have any questions, are experiencing a similar situation, or just want to talk, then please do not hesitate to reach out to email@example.com!
Stay happy; stay healthy!
Lots of love,