Today is Jan 12, 2005 and April Morris has
had one surgery to remove her first Adrenal gland and will hopefully have surgery
soon to remove her second Adrenal gland at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine
at Montifere Hospital in New York.
As April's husband, I am compelled to tell April's story and how her battle with
Cushing's has affected our marriage and our family. Cases of Cushings Disease and
Cushings Syndrome are rarely diagnosed as being Cushings, simply because there has
not been enough cases of Cushings reported. Doctors and General Practitions often
mis-diagnose Cushings as many other ailments and illnesses. As a rule, patients
are viewed as having a weight problem and put on a diet.
If a patient needs a specialist, they are referred by the Primary Physician or
Family doctor, to a Medical Specialist in that field, usually obesity or weight
loss. However, there's another element that's involved here with Cushings, and
that's Mental Health. There are a number of changes in behavior that occur in
patients with Cushings that again are mis-diagnosed by Psychiatrists. Well, let
me back up on that. The Psychiatrist usually will be correct in the psychiatric
diagnoses of the patients problems. However, it becomes puzzling after several
months of therapy, as the mental problems continue to occurr.
This is a very difficult disease to be readily diagnosed by the Medical profession.
There needs to be a checklist for diagnosing Cushings Syndrome and there needs to
be an awareness that such a disease exists. Since my wife has been diagnosed with
Cushings, it's been a relief to know, that there's a name for what has been bothering
her for more than twelve years. What is also a relief to know, is that this medical
disease is also causing the problems she has with her mental illness.
The human body is a marvel of interactions between organs and systems kept in
balance by the production of enzymes that aid in metabolic processes and hormones
that regulate body functions. When the balance is disturbed by illness, injury, or
advancing age, the body goes awry: appetite and water consumption change, organs
malfunction, or medication to treat one illness causes another.
Such is the case with Cushing's disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, the
production of excess hormones from the adrenal glands. Cushing's disease usually
strikes with a bucket-full of symptoms, that can mimic other diseases. Increased
appetite, increased drinking and urination, increased body temperature, high blood
pressure, bulging upper abdomen, massive increase of mammary glands or breasts,
with a reddish purple discoloring of the nipples, increased hair growth, muscle
weakness, and nervous system disorders.
The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys. The adrenals produce cortin, a
complex of steroid hormones that help regulate body weight, mineral balance, the
structure of connective tissue, some white blood cell production, and skin health.
Adrenal glands are stimulated to produce cortin by adrenocorticotropic hormone
(ACTH), which comes from the pituitary gland.
The onset of Cushing's disease can be triggered by a tumor in the adrenal glands
or the tiny tumor on the pituitary gland; either of these tumors can cause the
adrenal glands to run amok and produce an excessive amount of corticosteroids.
About 98 percent of Cushing's cases are caused by the pituitary tumors. Adrenal
glands must be surgically removed. Pituitary-induced Cushing's can sometimes be
treated by drug therapy, but it cannot be cured. Ultimately, the pituitary tumor
must be sugically removed.
Cushings Syndrome pulls every trick there is to pull. The disease will lead doctors
and specialists in a number of circles, trying to solve the patients numerous problems.
In the last twelve years of our marriage, the mental aspects of this disease, has been
most challenging to say the least.
My wife has had a good job and has earned a good amount of money. However, in the
past twelve years there have been some seriously questionable spending sprees that
have all but bankrupt our marraige. Not only spending sprees, but poor judgement on
a number of issues. We have been to marriage counselors, psychiatrists, and mental
therapists in trying to understand her thought process.
Once she came home from work, riding in a tow truck, that was towing her Mini Van.
I ask what was wrong with the Van and she said; "There was a loud bang under the
hood and a lot of smoke came out, then it stopped". She then said, that the oil
light had been on, for the past three days. Now folks, I don't find this as being
normal behavior. Nevertheless, we put the Van in the shop and had a new engine put
While the Van was in the shop, she would drive my car for a few days. Four days
later, when she came home from work, riding with a stranger, who dropped her off
at our driveway, I began wondering, where was my car?. So, when she came in, I
asked her, "Where is my car"? She said it was over in Elmsford, New York. I asked;
what's wrong with the car? And she said, she thought it was out of gas.
I asked her where in Elmsford was the car? She said it was on the Saw Mill River
Parkway. I ask her what exit? She said she didn't know what exit, just somewhere
in Elmsford on the Saw Mill River Parkway. So I got a gas can and went with my
neighbor to find my car. We looked for hours, checking with Parkway Police, the
County Sheriffs Dept. and the New York State Police, for the car having been towed,
but there was no reports of the car being towed, or any reports of the car being
seen on the side of the road.
I filed reports with all branches of Law enforcement and went home. The next day,
my wife got a ride to work with a freind nearby. I called my insurance company
Allstate, and spoke with the agent about filing a claim for a stolen auto.
My agent, then said that my policy had expired. I told the agent, that we had
received the renewal notice in the mail and I had sent $610.00 with my wife, to
drop off at his office more than two weeks ago. The agent said, he hated to inform
me, but that did not happen. I called my wife at work and ask if she had the receipt
from when she paid the car insurance? She then told me, she hadn't paid it yet. She
had spent the money, but couldn't remember what she spent it on. Nevertheless, my
$33,000 Audi was gone and no insurance to replace it.
In the meantime, we had to buy my wife another car, as her Van was not ready with
the new engine yet. I bought a used car, in relatively good condition, with low mileage.
The car was an Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra with power windows and seats and looked like it
would make a good second car. About a week later, my wife was on her way taking our
18-month-old daughter Samantha, to the day care center, when she rounded a curve on
the wrong side of the road and hit another car head-on. Fortunately, no one was
injured. However, the insurance on this car was only a temporary policy and this
car was to be added as a replacement for the Audi on the same policy with the Mini-Van
when we got it back. I could not believe what happened next. I called Bob Purcell, our
insurance agent at Allstate, and my wife never dropped off the money for the new policy
on the Oldsmobile, so there was no coverage on this car.
So, now we are out of a car again. Not only were we out of a car, we have to pay
$2,700 for the damages on the car my wife ran into. Fortunately, the Van was ready
now with the new engine, so my wife wouldn't miss any work. I personally went down
the street to our insurance agents office and made sure that there would not be any
slip up on the insurance. The weekend was just a few days away and I was hoping to
sell some computer systems over the weekend and in the next few weeks, so we could
buy another car.
Friday came and I was glad my wife would be at home for a couple days and off the
road. It hadn't been easy for her. She was driving a Mini-Van, then a European
luxury car, my Audi, then an Oldsmobile, all in a matter of a few weeks. One car
blew the engine, one car was stolen, and she had a head-on collision in the last
car. I was glad she had her Mini-Van back and I was relieved, that she would be
home for a couple days. The stress for her had to have been tough for her to deal
with, and now she could rest and sleep late on Saturday morning. I figured that
I would make her a nice breakfast and bring it to her in bed. She could rest and
get up whenever she wanted to.
Boy, was I wrong. She came home a little earlier than normal on Friday and was
busy carrying things out to her Mini-Van. I was tied up with a customer on the
telephone for nearly an hour, providing tech support for one of my computer
customers. As I was hanging up the phone, I heard her car starting and I went to
see where she was off to. I was walking along side of her car, while she was backing
out of the driveway. I ask where she was off to? She said without the blink of an eye,
Disney World. I said; what? Disney World? She said; step back now, you're holding us
up. I begged for her not to go, at least not now. I ask if she couldn't wait a couple
weeks and see that we could earn some money from my computer business to buy another
car? She said her and her sister had discussed the trip and their minds were made up
and they were going.
I couldn't beleive it. I would never in 100-years have expected that she would come
home on Friday and take off for Florida, but she did. I came back in the house and
started picking up and cleaning up my computer shop for the end of the day. I had
no appetite, but felt that I should eat something. It had been a pretty busy day
and I had not taken time out to eat lunch so, even though I wasn't hungry, I knew
I should eat something. I didn't feel like cooking a meal, for just myself. So, I
thought I would order a Pizza from Domino's. I went back to my desk and sat down
to count out the money from this weeks business and make out the deposit slip to
take to the bank in the morning.
I opened my cash box to count the money, and I was shocked. The cash box was empty.
Over $3,600 was gone. Yes, that wonderful little wife of mine had planned her trip
to Disney World with the money from my computer business. I just couldn't believe
she took the money without asking. I had ordered a pizza, but I had lost my appetite.
I went to the refrigerator and got a beer. I needed to sit down and relax. Then it
came to me, that I had wrote a company check, for a UPS, C.O.D. delivery of computer
parts and I no longer had the money to cover that check. I looked at the clock, it
was before 6:00 PM. I still had time to call the computer parts distributor and ask
him to hold the check a few days. The distributor did agree to hold the check for one-week.
I was relieved about that, if only for the moment. That meant I had to earn about
$2,700 in the next week, inorder to make good on the check. I sat down on the sofa
and leaned back for a moment and started thinking of how I was going to get the
money together to cover that check. In a few minutes the doorbell rang and I
thought Domino's Pizza had really delivered fast. I went to the door and it
was our Landlord, Henry. He said he had come to collect the rent. I told him
there must be a mistake. I had given my wife the rent money, to take to him in
New City, on last Sunday, when she was in New City visiting her mother. He
looked at me with a burning anger in his eyes, as he felt I was lying to him.
It was quite clear that he was furious. He said we also still owed him for last
month. He said he had spoke to my wife by phone, from her office, and she told
him he could come by the house Friday evening to pickup the two months rent.
Wow, I was not aware that she had not given the rent money to the Landlord. I was
really disappointed when I found out, she had not given Henry the rent for the
previous month as well. That meant we owed Henry $2,900 plus the $2,700, needed
for covering the check for computer parts. I was even more puzzled as to why she
took the money from my computer shop and had told Henry that he could come by to
pickup the money Friday evening. Why did she do that? Henry said he was not going
to wait any longer. In the three years we had live there, I had never seen him so
angry. Henry said he was going to court and have us thrown out and he was going to
get his money. I tried to assure Henry that I would pay him, but he walked to his
car and quickly drove off.
Henry did just what he said he would do. Monday morning about 10:00 AM an officer
from the court came and served papers to appear in court, in two days. Wow, Henry
moved very quickly. I went to court and could do nothing in paying the rent due to
Henry. The judge ordered that we be out in ten-days and that the money due to Henry,
plus an additional $2,000 for late fees, plus Henry's attorney fees, to be paid
within 30-days. This was the time when I began having terrible stomach pains due
to stress. It was later found to be a flare up of my Colitis.
Now, I had a much more serious situation to solve. I needed $2,700 to cover the
check for for the computer parts. I needed $2,900 for paying the rent money due
to the Landlord. I also had to pay $2,000 for late fees and attorney fees. But,
I also had to find another place to live. We had to be moved out in ten-days. I
will need a security deposit, the first months rent. I also need to rent a truck
to move in. I could never understand why my wife left me in that situation. Why
did she not give the rent money to the Landlord, for two months? Why did she take
the cash from my computer shop? Why did she do that?
While my wife was in Florida being a ten-year-old, I was left to face all the mess
she had created. I began working with a freind who was in the Real Estate business,
and I managed to find a place to live. Terms were arranged with the new landlord,
with part of the money to be paid when we moved in, and the balance to be paid in
two weeks. I was cutting it very close to make all this happen, so my family would
have a place to live, when they got back from Disney World.
I suppose you can imagine what happened, with the check I wrote to the computer
parts distributor, it bounced. The distributor was extremely upset. I tried to
explain to him that I would get the money to him, as quickly as possible. He was
very impatient. Soon a warrant for my arrest was issued. I received a phone call
from a County Sherriff in Pennsylvania and I went voluntarily to Philadelphia,
to face the charges. The district attorney seemed to have some sympathetic feelings
for the situation and said she would ask the judge to give consideration, for this
being my first offense. She said if I pleaded guilty, she would see that I didn't
do any hard time. I followed her instructions and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
I was put on probation and not allowed to leave the county for one year. I met
with a probation officer once a week, for the first two-months, and once a month
for the next 10-months. I was able to earn the money to pay off the distributor
and was glad to have that mess finally over.
My son had taken up playing the drums and in the fall of 1998, he was disturbing
all of our neighbors. My son and I met with the neighbors, and ask that they decide
on a time of the day, when he could practice. All the neighbors agreed on the time
of 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM, and my son agreed, that he would stay within that timeframe.
A few weeks had past and all was working out well, with the scheduled practice time.
Then in mid November 1998, on a Saturday morning, my son told me, he had invited
some friends over with guitars to practice. I ask if had been over to speak with
the neighbors? My son said he would go then, and talk with the neighbors. My son
returned quickly and said everything was fine.
Soon the thundering sound of my sons drums and the squealing of electric guitars,
could be heard from several blocks away. I continued trying to work at my computer
on some webpages. In a couple hours, my next door neighbor Tony, was pounding
feverishly on my glass sliding door so hard, that I thought for sure, it was
going to shatter. I quickly went to the door. Tony said my son had been at it out
there for 3-hours and the whole neighborhood has had enough of it, so knock it off.
I asked Tony had my son came and spoke to him about practicing today? Tony said NO!,
He said that my son had not spoken with any of the neighbors and that Carroll, an
elderly woman across the street was about to have a stroke. I went quickly to the
garage and told my son that their practice session was over.
On Saturday Dec 6th, 1998 my son again had his freinds over for another practice
session. I told my son I did not want any problems like we had before, and told
him to go see all the neighbors and ask if it would be alright, for him and his
buddies to practice, for a few hours. My son went out the door and headed to the
neighbors. I felt reassured that my son had learned something, from the last
I went up stairs and went to the couch, at the other end of the house, to take a
nap. In a couple hours I woke up and went back down stairs to my computer shop.
It was so quiet in the house. I looked in the garage and it was empty. I went to
my son's room, knocked and opened the door. He was in his room, talking with one
of his freinds. I ask where his other freinds were? He said they had all left and
gone home. I said, that was a short session, and ask if there had been any problems?
My son said no, no problems. I felt very releived. I felt that my son was growing up,
and learning to have respect and consideration for other people.
I went on to my computer desk and sat down. I notice the light blinking on my
answering machine. I saw there were eleven messages. I played the messages and
found that they were from the neighbors. They were all complaining about the
noise. My son had never spoke with any of the neighbors. There were three calls
from Carroll, the elderly woman across the street. Carroll was in tears, begging
for the music to stop. I was very disappointed. I sat at my desk for a few minutes
and composed myself for a talk with my son.
I knocked on his door and stepped inside. I ask him had there been any problems
with the neighbors, and again he said no, no problems. I ask my son why had his
freinds gone home so soon? My son said, they just had to go home early. I gave
him every opportunity to tell me the truth, but he didn't. I then ask him to come
in to the computer shop and listen to the tape. After listening to the tape, I ask
him again if he had gone to the neighbors to talk with them, as he said, he had. My
son then told me that he did not talk to any of them. He said, he was in our house,
and he could do whatever he wanted, and the neighbors could go screw themselves.
At that point, I quickly and swiftly slapped the side of his face, and I told him
that there would not be any drums played, or guitars played in the house, for at
least one month. He turned around and casually walked back to his room. Two days
later, on Monday evening at 10:00 PM, three Police Officers knocked on the door.
They had an order from Family Court, stating I must leave the premises, immediately.
They gave me three minutes, to get some shaving gear in a plastic bag and to leave.
I had a freind that lived about 125 miles away and I headed off to go see him. I
stayed out on his farm for four months. I had periodic court dates at Family Court
during the four months, and I asked the Judge to allow me to come home and at least
keep my business going during the daytime. I suggested that I would leave before
school was out and not come until the children had left for school in the morning.
It was to no avail. At the end of four months, my wife felt she had taught me a
lesson and allowed me to return home. My son had dismantled my computer shop and
moved his drums into where my computer shop had been. It took two weeks of negoiating
with my son, to allow me to reassemble my computer shop. However, it was too late. My
business dropped from annual sales of $83,000 down to $6,500 that year, and never recovered.
During my four months absence, both my son and my older daughter, dropped out of school.
I went to the high school to get my son back in classes, but they would not except him.
They did not want him, anywhere near the school grounds, because of threats he had made
to kill some of the teachers. I arranged for a tutor from North Carolina to come
and home school him so he could graduate. My daughter Amanda was in Middle School,
but said she must remain home and take the grade over next year. I found that there
was a program at BOCES in New City, where Amanda could attend, and after six weeks,
she could rejoin her classmates, in Middle School.
I took Amanda to her classes every day for the six weeks and picked her up every
evening. She was able to rejoin her classmates and graduate. On the last day of
school, Amanda was awarded a certificate, by the Principle, for Outstanding Achievement.
What bothered me about this period of time, was during appearances in Family Court,
I told the Judge that my children were not in school. Two Social Workers from Legal
Aid, representing my wife, and the assistant district attorney, told the Judge that
my statements were not true. They stated to the Judge, that they had checked with
the school, only the day before, and both children were in perfect attendance. This
was not in the best interest of the children. Just because one person lied to the
Judge, and two others swore to it, doesn't make it the truth. The Judge could have
telephoned the school and verified my children's attendance records, but that didn't
In December of 2004, I went to Oklahoma to care for my ailing 88-year-old mother,
I've not seen my mother for over 16-years. My wife and children remained in New
York. My wife has been seeking a medical diagnosis for 12-years as to what's wrong
with her. She has the rare disease of Cushings, that effects 10-15 people per million.
Cushing's Disease causes many medical disorders as well as mental disorders, such as
Bipolar Disorder, Sporadic mood swings, poor judgement and manic spending sprees,
which are felt to be of the norm, by those who have Cushing's. Doctors at Albert
Einstein College Of Medicine in New York, are preparing medical journals of my wife
April. Surgeons have removed one of her Adrenal glands, and it was the size of a
sweet potato. Both of her Adrenal glands must be removed. The remaining adrenal
gland is now the size of a watermelon. Her chances of surviving this second surgery
are very slim. If her adrenal gland is not removed, she will continue deteriating
and death is certain.
The tiny tumor on the Pituitary gland, at the base of the brain, must also be removed.
Three or four years of continous mental therapy is required after surgery, to basically
reprogram her thought process. At best, her thought process can be restored to only 80%
of being normal. This is a dreadful disease and there are certainly more people out
there who are still searching for a diagnosis. I am so thankful that we have excellent
health insurance and all my wife's surgeries are fully covered. I truly hope that she
will be returned to being somewhat normal after all these surgeries and the years of
In the first week of December 2004, after my wife had exhausted my savings and my
disability of $65,600 in just five-months, my wife wanted more money, but there
just wasn't any left. She then went to Family Court and filed a petition, that I
be removed from the home. She stated that I had been loud and had used abusive
language. What she achieved by this was to get an order from the court, showing
that she was in care of my daughter Samantha. April then went immediately to the
Social Security Office with the order of custody from Family Court, and was able
to take control of my 13-year-old daughter's monthly disability benefits. This is
what she was after. She wants more spending money for her sporadic spending sprees.
She is driven by this Cushings disease. April is also motivated by her freind Karen,
who also exibits all signs of having this disease, but is doing nothing in the way
of being diagnosed or getting treatment.
I was ordered to leave our home. I was at a complete loss, so I went to spend some
time caring for my 88-year-old mother. Everything happens for a reason, I beleive.
I've replaced two sinks and plumbing since I arrived and my mothers health is improving.
Unfortunately, I beleive my 21-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter as well as 13-year-old
Samantha Jaylene, may also have inherited the Cushings disease from my wife. The two older
children have all the symptoms. Camels Hump on the back, Rounded or Moon Face, spending
sprees in the thousands, repeatedly writing bad checks, borrowing money from others and
not repaying the money.
In the summer of 2004, prior to April's first Adrenal surgery, my wife had four-stints
put in her heart at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ. In August, 2004 April had two
heart-attacks in two-days. She was then rushed back to Valley Hospital where a fifth
stint was inserted into her heart. On Saturday Jan 22nd, my wife was to undergo surgery
to remove her other Adrenal gland. Her surgey was postponed due to a snow storm. Her
second Adrenal surgery is now delayed again as the surgeon resigned and left the hospital.
She had me removed from the house, simply because I had refused to give her more
money. She complained that I was loud and had used abusive language, like NO! The
Cushing's Disease is what controls her thoughts and actions. She now has taken
control of my 13-year-old daughters monthly payments from my disability. April
is not typically like this, but she is controlled by Cushing's.
In addition to the $65,600 taken from my savings and disability from June 2004 to
December 1, 2004, April had also spent more than $12,000 of her own salary from
Verizon, during this same five-month period. Somehow, In 1990, April lost my
$33,000 Audi automobile, and it was not covered by our auto insurance, because
she had spent the money I had given April for the renewal of the insurance policy.
A few weeks later, April took $3,600 from the cash drawer of my computer shop and
on a whim, and chose to take a trip to Disney World. The affects of this strange
and puzzling behavior, was a devastating blow to our entire family.
Her decision to take a trip to Disney World, funded by money taken from my computer
business and money that was for rent and auto insurance, caused a check I had wrote
for computer parts to bounce. As a result, I was charged with a Felony for the bounced
check. After paying for the computer parts and then having to spend a year on probation,
I went to buy my son a shotgun for shooting skeet. I did not realize that the charge
against me for the bad check had been a felony. In filling out the firearms form,
for my son's shotgun, I answered NO, to the question if ever covicted of a felony.
The application did not go through and a few weeks later, I was charged with another
felony, for falsifying a federal firearms application. None of this mess would have
ever happened, if April's sense of good judgement and her decision making process,
had not been altered by the tumor growing on her pituitary gland. But who was to
know, she had such a thing?
When April filed her petition in family court, she stated in the petition, that
I had several guns and firearms in the house, and then followed, with a statement
that I also had two felony convictions. The only guns in our house, belong to our
son Theodore, and the guns were registered to April, when she bought them. The
purpose of April making this statement, in her petition, was to create an immediate
sense of urgency and danger, to the Family Court, so as the court would act quickly
in issuing a petition, with a "Temporary order of Custody". Immediately, upon the
court issuing the "Temporary Order of Custody", April wasted no time, in getting
to the Social Security Office and claiming she had the custody of our daughter
Samantha, and that she was entitled to be the Payee, of Samantha's monthly benefit
April's purpose for going to Family Court was to manipulate the court system, in
order to get a legal document issued by the court, so April could take the court
document to the Social Security office, where she could use the "Temporary Custody"
order, allowing April to receive my daughters monthly benefit payments. Upon April
receiving her copy of the petition, she walked across the street to the local Social
Security office and demanded that she receive my daughter's monthly benefit payments.
The staff at Social Security, upon viewing the court order, quickly entered April
into the system as the Payee for my daughter's $799.00 monthly benefit. My daughter
soon called and told me that when her check arrived, that April and our son Theodore,
had taken her check, and within an hour had spent all of her $799.00 monthly benefit.
Samantha did not receive any benefit of her money.
Cushing's is a very bad disease, and there is so little that is known about it,
that the disease is simply overlooked as the patient being overweight. I personally,
want the medical professionals of the world to learn everything they can as quickly
as possible about this disease and become aware, of the identifiable signs of this
disease. Members of the medical profession must become aware of all the symptoms,
both the mental and physical symptoms. The people stricken by this disease, go
through an enormous amount of pain, confussion and heavy depression. Having observed
the effects of Cushing's disease, in my wife, and in my son, and in my daughter, I
hope by sharing my experiences, that this information will be of aid to others, who
may be trying to understand such similar behavior, within their own household.
My concerns are that more people need to know about this disease called Cushing's.
It starts by attacking the Pituitary gland at the base of the brain and forms a
very tiny, and often overlooked tumor. This tiny tumor is on the end of an ascending
axis, much like a cherry on a stem. It enlarges with age. The tumor causes Pituitary
and Hormonal disorders resulting in an over production of cortisol. It sends the
cortisol to the Adrenal glands and the Adrenal glands also become infected with
tumors. The normal size of the Adrenal glands are about the size of an olive or a
walnut. When my wife's first Adrenal gland was removed, it was the size of a sweet potato.
Rapid gains in weight occur. Doctors will put patients on a diet. In conversation,
freinds will often drop hints about new diets they've heard about. The face becomes
swollen and rounded or referred to as being Moon Faced. Breasts grow to enormous
porportion, where bras will no longer fit, of any size. Men with Cushing's disease
also will develop large breasts as well. Clothing becomes more of a drape than
wearing apparel. The stomach grows to large porportion, protruding out and hanging
down over the belt line, as much as two inches to fifteen inches, sagging down below
After April having thrown me out of our home, for the third time, I swore this
would be the last time, I drove 26-hours non-stop to Oklahoma, where I remained
for 16 months, caring for my 88-year-old mother. This had to be the worst trip
I have ever had to make. Along the way, I listened to a country song on the radio,
by Lee Ann Womack called, "A Little Past Little Rock". The Lyrics, are "I'm A Little
Past Little Rock, But Long Way From over You". It seemed like the song was being
played just for me.
I had to leave our home with only the clothes I was wearing and not much more than
that. I have since become a Fan of the George Strait song "Amarillo By Morning".
The lyrics in the song are,
Amarillo By Morning
Up From San Anton
Everything That I've Got
Is Just, What I've Got On
For anyone who may read this page and feel they may have Cushing's or
know of someone who may have Cushing's, and would like the names of doctors who
are specialized in Cushing's, I have listed information below of April's doctors.
Never give up hope. Together, we will find the answer, as to how this disease gets
started, what causes this disease, how the disease develops, how it originates, what
chemical processes take place, and the interactions of medicines, which may lead to
the cause of this disease.
Cushings Specialists at
Albert Einstein College of Medicine are:
Norman Fleischer, M.D.
Montefiore Medical Park
1575 Blondell Avenue, Ste. 200
Bronx , NY 10461
Telephone: (718) 405-8260
Specialty(s): Internal Medicine / Board Certified 1968
Alan Preston White , M.D.
Montefiore Medical Park
1575 Blondell Avenue
Bronx , NY 10461
General Surgery / Board Certified 1980
1. Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery
3. Laparoscopic Colon Surgery
4. Laparoscopic Hernia Surgery
5. Laparoscopic Endocrine Surgery
6. All Advanced Laparoscopic Surg
Montefiore Medical Park
1575 Blondell Avenue
Bronx , NY10461
Phone: (718) 405-8244
My Wife April does not currently have a therapist, but she's going to need one. We have full medical coverage. My wife has officially retired from Verizon with full benefits and full medical coverage on Dec. 31, 2004. Thank God. I just hope she lives long enough to enjoy it.
I'm a bundle of nerves. Being with my 88-year-old mother was a big help, but I'm not sure who was caring for who?
In my wifes petition of December 6th, 2004, it also contains a restaining order, from Family Court, I am not to have any contact with my wife or with other members of my family. Naturally, this is done as a standard precaution. The problem is that the Family Court does not know the details of Cushing's disease.
During the past 12-years, of my wife's battle with Cushing's, she has gone to Family Court and had me removed from our home three-times. There's never been a warning, it's always a Shock and Awe campaign. The Last time was over 10-years ago. It destroyed my computer business ($83,000 a year) as a result, and it allmost physically and finacially destroyed me.
In the early summer of 2004, while April was recouperating from her first Adrenal gland surgery at her mother's, in Middletown, New York, a bill collector had called several times, asking for April. Then one day, I ask what was this about, and could I help? The bill collector said that April had wrote a bad check to the lunch room cafeteria, where she worked at Verizon, for $5.00 (five dollars). The bill collector said the check had been deposited and returned twice. Whereas, two bank service charges of $18.00 each were applied for $36.00, plus the original $5.00 check. So, I said it looks like you need $41.00 then? Then the bill collector said; No, April paid that $41.00 sir, with another bad check and the $41.00 check had also bounced, and said that April's $41.00 check had been processed and returned twice also. I said; Oh no. So I guess we owe you the $41.00 plus bank charges of $36.00, totaling $77.00, and ask if that amount was correct? The bill collector, explained that April had wrote another check for the $77.00, which also had been deposited and returned twice, with additional bank charges applied. Alright, alright, okay, please, just tell me what's the bottom line? What's the amount you need? The bill collector said the amount was $169.00. I agreed I would pay the $169.00 and went to Wal-Mart and purchased a money order in that amount and sent it out the next day by express mail. I was certainly glad this mess was over.
April's $5.00 check had cost a bundle. Not only the $169.00 to the bill collector, but April's bank also had numerous bank charge for all those returned checks, for another $172.00. All costs and the charges by April's bank combined was $341.00 for April's original check of $5.00
I could not beleive that such a simple thing could get so far out of hand. I was relieved that the mess was over, at least for a week. Seven days later, the same bill collector called and said he was calling about a $5.00 check of April's that bounced at the lunch room cafeteria, where April worked for Verizon. This sounded all too familiar. I said; Listen Pal, I paid you for that check last week. The bill collector then said, No Mr. Morris, you paid for one check. I said, what do you mean? The bill collector then explained that there are five $5.00 checks, that were all done the same way, with payments needed of $169.00 each for the four remaing checks. I told him, that there was no way, I was going to pay for those other four. I gave the bill collector the telephone number at April's mothers and wished him good luck.
Those five $5.00 checks cost us a lot of money, (See Below).
Original $5.00 Check Over-Drafts Return Fees
1st Deli Bank Return Fee 18.00
1st Over-Draft - Our Bank 25.00
2nd Deli Bank Return Fee 18.00
2nd Over-Draft - Our Bank 25.00
Wrote $41.00 Replacement Check
3rd Deli Bank Return Fee 20.00
3rd Over-Draft - Our Bank 25.00
4th Deli Bank Return Fee 20.00
4th Over-Draft - Our Bank 25.00
Original $5.00 Check
Over-Drafts - 100.00
Return Fees - 72.00 - sent to collection
Legal collection cost - 169.00
Total cost of one $5.00 Check - 341.00
Total cost of the five $5.00 checks - 1,705.00
April is a really good person. Her thought process has been taken over by this dreadful disease of Cushing's. There are so many others who undoubtedly are waiting to be diagnosed, as my wife was. I am sharing the information and the experiences I have had as the spouse of someone struggling with Cushings disease. I am in hopes that perhaps others to yet be diagnosed, may be able to identify what's wrong, sooner than it has taken for April.
Anything I can do to save a family from what we have suffered through, will be very refreshing. Listed below are some additional information and symptoms that should help others to identify that they have Cushings.
The disease Cushing's, attacks the Pituitary gland at the base of the brain and forms a tumor. The tumor is very small and on the end of an ascending axis, similar to the shape of a cherry on a stem.
This tiny tumor causes an overproduction of cortisol, which in turn, takes over the control of many decision making processes in the brain. Additionally, this tiny and often undetected tumor, causes Pituitary and Hormonal disorders resulting in an over production of cortisol, which is passed to the Adrenal glands and causes even more cortisol to be produced. This overproduction of cortisol causes the preculiar and sporatic behavior patterns.
From: Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder - Mood Swings
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings-from overly "high" and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.
Signs and symptoms of mania (or a manic episode) include:
Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
Excessively "high," overly good, euphoric mood
Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another
Distractibility, can't concentrate well
Little sleep needed
Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers
A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual
Increased sexual drive
Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
Denial that anything is wrong
A manic episode is diagnosed if elevated mood occurs with 3 or more of the other symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for 1 week or longer. If the mood is irritable, 4 additional symptoms must be present.
Signs and symptoms of depression (or a depressive episode) include:
Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood
Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex
Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being "slowed down"
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
Restlessness or irritability
Sleeping too much, or can't sleep
Change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or gain
Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical illness or injury
Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
A depressive episode is diagnosed if 5 or more of these symptoms last most of the day, nearly every day, for a period of 2 weeks or longer.
A mild to moderate level of mania is called hypomania. Hypomania may feel good to the person who experiences it and may even be associated with good functioning and enhanced productivity. Thus even when family and friends learn to recognize the mood swings as possible bipolar disorder, the person may deny that anything is wrong. Without proper treatment, however, hypomania can become severe mania in some people or can switch into depression.
Sometimes, severe episodes of mania or depression include symptoms of psychosis (or psychotic symptoms). Common psychotic symptoms are hallucinations (hearing, seeing, or otherwise sensing the presence of things not actually there) and delusions (false, strongly held beliefs not influenced by logical reasoning or explained by a person's usual cultural concepts). Psychotic symptoms in bipolar disorder tend to reflect the extreme mood state at the time.
For example, delusions of grandiosity, such as believing one is the President or has special powers or wealth, may occur during mania; delusions of guilt or worthlessness, such as believing that one is ruined and penniless or has committed some terrible crime, may appear during depression. People with bipolar disorder who have these symptoms are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as having schizophrenia, another severe mental illness.
It may be helpful to think of the various mood states in bipolar disorder as a spectrum or continuous range. At one end is severe depression, above which is moderate depression and then mild low mood, which many people call "the blues" when it is short-lived but is termed "dysthymia" when it is chronic. Then there is normal or balanced mood, above which comes hypomania (mild to moderate mania), and then severe mania.
Cushing's Support & Research Foundation
How common are psychiatric problems with Cushing's, and what problems do Cushing's patients have?
In some studies, as many as 90% of Cushing's patients suffer from depression. In part, this is due to actual chemical changes in the brain from high cortisol. The depressing effect of having a serious and impairing illness may also contribute to depression.
High levels of cortisol are also experienced by the body as anxiety, and insomnia is extremely common in patients on steroids and with high cortisol states.
Elevated, agitated mood, like in mania, can also be seen in a minority of patients, and some actually hallucinate and have psychotic symptoms.
Problems with concentration and memory are common and may improve or continue after recovery, depending upon the severity and length of the Cushing's symptoms.
Available Online Information Resources relative to Cushings Syndrome
Dr. Alan D. Koenigsberg - Plano, Texas 972-867-3375
Specializing in treating mental health, Bipolar Disorder
Pituitary Network Association - Disorders
Dr. Daniel Kelly (Associate Professor of Neurosurgery - UCLA) and
Dr. Pejman Cohan (Assistant Clinical Professor of Endocrinology - UCLA)
The Pituitary Network Association
Additionally, to April E. Morris having the disease of Cushings Syndrome, she has another rare disease known as Fibromyalgia. The interactions of these two diseases lead to dramatic mood swings and often result in poor judgement.
Sporadic spending sprees, are of the norm, neglecting household utility bills, or buying weekly groceries.
Fortunately, we have excellent health insurance and all of April's surgeries and procedures are covered. I am in hopes that other people who may be suffering with Cushing's and are yet to be diagnosed will see this information and find the answers they have been looking for. I am in hopes that members of the medical profession will see this webpage and will find this information and the medical links to be useful as well. This has become a campaign of mine to create an awareness of Cushing's Disease. I do not want another person to have to go through what my wife has had to endure for so long.
- September 23, 2007
From Oct. 1, 2007 through Oct. 10, 2007 April will be at the National Institute
of Health, Research Center in Bethesda, Maryland. April will be put through a
series of tests and examinations, to evaluate the possibility of surgery to
remove her one remaining adrenal gland, which is now the size of a watermelon.
This 10-Day evaluation will determine if adrenal surgery is possible. If adrenal
surgery can be done, a date will be set, after the tests and examinations are
complete. The National Institute of Health have the most experience with adrenal
surgery for Cushing's disease.
UPDATE: - October 19, 2007
April was at the Research Center of the National Institute of Health in Bethesda,
Maryland, from Oct. 1 through Oct. 13, 2007. April underwent every sort of test
and examination known to the modern day technology of the medical profession.
April had CAT scans, MRI's, X-rays, Ultrasounds, Chemical and Dye injections, IV
injections with various steroids, followed by blood analysis tests and much more.
Biopsy tissue and some blood samples were sent to a Pituitary laboratory of the
National Institute of Health in Thousand Oaks, California.
The results are finally in. April will be returning on October 25, 2007 to the
National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland for scheduled adrenalectomy
surgery on Monday, October 29, 2007.
April must now stop taking her blood pressure medicine and aspirin as of today,
Oct. 19, 2007 ten days prior to her surgery. We are now rushing around like a
headless chicken, trying to get everything in order for this trip down to Maryland.
UPDATE: - October 29, 2007
The surgeon for April's adrenalectomy surgery has been called away and her surgery
will have to be rescheduled when he returns.
UPDATE: - November 5, 2007
April has now been scheduled for adrenalectomy surgery at the National Institute
of Health for December 6, 2007. April will enter the hospital on December 5, 2007.
Following her surgery, April will remain in the hospital through December 21, 2007.
UPDATE: - November 10, 2007
April has now been sent to Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York for cardiovascular
evaluation and her surgery is now postponed. At Good Samaritan Hospital, a new stint
was installed and one area was ballooned. April now has six stints in her heart. April will
be rescheduled for adrenalectomy surgery at the National Institute of Health in
approximately 45 days, pending approval by her cardiologist. We are anticipating
the time to be around the middle of January 2008.
UPDATE: - December 10, 2007
April has now been sent back to Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York for
emergency cardiovascular evaluation. Two arteries were eighty-percent closed. One
artery, at the end of the stint put in on November 10, 2007, was 80-percent collasped.
A second area of that artery was also 80-percent collapsed. The stint was then
repositioned and the second area was balloned to open the artery. The ballooned
area was where the artery branched like a Y and a stint could not be placed in
this area as it would have blocked off the atery branch.
April was released and sent for Plumonary testing due to heavy lung congestion. We
are in hopes April will be able to complete the Pulmonary testing and return to
the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland by January 19, 2008.
UPDATE: - January 24, 2008
Pulmonary testing is complete and April is scheduled to be admitted for
adrenal surgery at the National Institute of Health on February 23, 2008. Her surgery
is scheduled for 7:00 AM on February 25, 2008. All we can do is keep our fingers
crossed and hope nothing else comes up before her surgery. April will remain in
the hospital for 11 days after the surgery. April should be released to come home
on March 7, 2008.
UPDATE: - February 25, 2008
2:20 PM - April has just come out of surgery and is in the ICU for recovery. April
will remain in the ICU for observation for a few days then moved to her hospital
room. April will remain in the hospital at the National Institute of Health for
about 11 days. April should be able to travel home on March 7, 2008.
UPDATE: - March 6, 2008
3:20 PM - April is on her way home. April will remain at home for a couple weeks
and recouperate. The steel staples were removed on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 and she
is doing well. I just got a telephone call and April forgot her box full of medicine
at the hospital. Amanda is turning around and heading back to the hospital so they
can get April's steroid medicine. I guess they were all so happy about April coming
home, they forgot her big box of new steroid medicine. On Wednesday, March 5, 2008
April got a telephone call from Mary O'Connor of Cushings-Help.Com and she was so
pleased to talk with Mary-O. April was really cheered up from Mary-O's call. The
National Institute of Health is where Mary-O had her adrenalectomy and April enjoyed
speaking with her again, it really made her day.
UPDATE: - June, 2009
April near death experience
Paramedics rushed into the bedroom, where April was sprawled across the floor. EMTs
were performing CPR. The paramedic knelt at April's head and inserted a tube into her
trachea. The paramedic's partner couldn't find any veins, so he used an electric drill
to screw three catheters into April's upper arm bone, called the Humerus, just below
the shoulder. Known as an 'intraosseous infusion', it's a grisly procedure, but it can
save the patient's life by allowing paramedics to inject medications directly into the
Looking at the cardiac monitor, they saw that the line was flat. She wasn't going to
survive. People rarely come back from a flat-line cardiac arrest, especially not at
her age and with her medical condition. They knew what would happen next: They would give
her three doses of cardiac medications, but her heart would not respond, and in the end,
they would turn off the cardiac monitor and declare her dead.
The paramedic's partner prepared the first two syringes, one containing epinephrine, and
the other containing atropine. He injected them into the tube of fluid that was now dripping
into April's arm. One of the EMTs kept pumping on April's chest, while the paramedic squeezed
oxygen into her lungs. They watched, and they waited.
And then something bizarre happened. April started breathing.
At first it was just a single breath. But then there came another, and another. Soon she was
breathing deeply and regularly. The paramedic felt at April's neck for a pulse, but still couldn't
find one. The paramedic looked again at the cardiac monitor. V-shaped waves marched across the
screen now, slowly and irregularly. Apparently, her heart was beating just powerfully enough to
keep her respiratory system functioning, but not powerfully enough to generate a pulse.
This put the paramedics in a curious predicament. As long as they kept pumping on her chest, she
would continue to breathe. And as long as she kept breathing, their rules would not permit the
paramedics to stop treating her. They had never seen anything like it. In theory, this cycle could
go on forever.
The paramedic's partner then gave April another dose of cardiac medications. It made no difference.
The EMT kept pumping on her chest. April kept breathing.
'Let's try pacing her', the paramedic said.
His partner then pushed some buttons on the cardiac monitor. The idea is to send small, regular jolts
of current through the skin and into the heart, causing it contract at regular intervals. Sometimes it
will work. This time it did.
April now has three scars on her upper right arm where the paramedics used the electric drill to drill
into the bone in her arm and screwed in the IV adaptors into the holes in the bone. She has three round
circles that were burnt into her skin from the chuck on the drill. There's a small scar in the center of
each circle where the drill bit went in to the bone. As her husband, this was a very difficult time for me
and I was praying heavily the whole month of June. Cushing's disease has been a real challenge for all of us.
I am really hoping that April will come live in Oklahoma. Our daughter Samantha Jaylene is still in school
and would like to finish high school with her friends. Our daughter Amanda wants a job as a top chef. She
has been to culinary school and thinks she will land a chef position at a big restaurant in New York, but
she is open to coming to Oklahoma and finding a job. Our son TJ went back with April and the girls to New York,
but he will be driving back down in his Ford Ranger pickup in January.
TJ is undecided about his future work and career, but he is very happy in Oklahoma doing tree work and logging
work. So, for the time being he is happy to be in Oklahoma as his home. He was making big bucks in the work he
was doing, but he was very unhappy with some of the bosses. Since he has come to Oklahoma, the company has fired
some of the bosses he was unhappy with and as time goes along, they may fire a few more. If that happens he will
probably go back to work for them, at least for awhile. If he can make a fair living in Oklahoma, he will probably
stay in Oklahoma.
My real concern is for April. I need to find out if the paramedics in our area are trained and equipped for
performing an intraosseous infusion procedure, where they drill into the upper arm bone allowing paramedics
to inject cardiac medications directly into the bone marrow?
As a small town, I doubt that the Boswell local emergency medical workers have had such training. I doubt that
the hospital in Hugo has any medical personnel with training for an intraosseous infusion procedure.
Thank you for taking the time to have read the information on this page.
What you have learned from this page, will hopefully be helpful to someone you may
know, who suffers from this dreadful Cushing's disease.