Well, it has been a good while since my last pituitary update.
My previous Endocrinologist appointment was in late February 2017, so I was due for my 6 monthly checkup which ended up getting slightly delayed until this week. This was to be my first appointment where I didn't see my regular doctor, and although this made me slightly nervous (with no reason, Maria the Registrar who saw me had all the knowledge she needed) it was good to see someone different who didn't know my history. In a way this made her more thorough because she didn't know my history so had to ask more questions.
We reviewed all my blood tests, Testosterone levels, PSA and all sorts of other levels which were all ok. So that is always a good start. But one thing my Endo always asks is how I am feeling in myself as this is a critical indicator of my condition regardless of what "the numbers" are saying, and the new doctor asked me this too.
As it happens I haven't been feeling entirely 'normal', or at least normal for me. It isn't anything I'm worrying about, but certainly worth mentioning. I take the fairly regular dose of 10mg at breakfast, 5mg at lunchtime and 5mg at teatime - ever since I was diagnosed. This style of dosing for replacing Cortisol is never going to be perfect, but has worked up until the last few months. I believe what has thrown it out slightly is that I have gone part time. In my job I sit at a desk, so I am very mentally active but not physically active. I used to have 2 days per week (Saturday and Sunday) when the reverse was true, I was much more physically active and used to have more frequent Cortisol 'lows'. With my part time working, I now work 3 days per week, so my 2 days per week of not working has turned into 4 days. So I have introduced more physical activity into my lifestyle and I believe this has upset my Cortisol equilibrium - if such a thing exists!!
I have been finding that my morning dose sometimes runs out at 10:30 to 11am, some 2 hours earlier than normal. This in turn sometimes throws my whole day out and I'm out of sorts all day - to me it is not obvious why I am feeling low on Cortisol, I don't feel like I have been doing anything that stressful. As a result my wife tells me I am a lot grumpier and short tempered, I struggle to find words, I physically slump as if exhausted and I generally become quiet and withdrawn, all classic signs for me of low Cortisol. Taking my lunchtime dose early does help, and sometimes is all I need. But equally this doesn't always work and I can get low again during the afternoon. It is all a bit hit and miss, so doesn't make managing my dosage that easy.
So the doctor has ordered another MRI scan to make sure my tumour is behaving itself - I was due another one anyway. She has also requested some more bloods including a first thing in the morning Cortisol blood level, to make sure my 10mg HC dose is bringing me up to the required level.
So between these two tests, we'll see what they say. In addition to that she has suggested I take 15mg for my breakfast dose rather than 10mg and see if that helps. She asked me a few questions about my general health and took my blood pressure and decided that 15mg can't hurt. I'll report back and see how that goes.
I still have the 12 week Testosterone injection which seems to serve me well. The last 2 injections in particular have gone brilliantly, in that apart from a slight bum ache for a day or so, they have not been painful at all. The previous couple of injections were really very painful. I had a long chat to the practice nurse and the Endocrine Nurse Helpline of the Pituitary Foundation about the pain. Essentially because this is a large oily injection, it sometimes struggles to dissipate into the muscle - and my buttock muscles aren't that massive.....one time when a big bum helps apparently!! The key is to warm up the injection (which I've always done), make sure the injection is done really slowly and make sure the muscle is relaxed. As I said 2 injections in a row were really painful and the pain from the 2nd one took a week to subside, I even resorted to paracetamol which is unusual for me. So let's hope I continue with minimal pain injections in the future!
So in summary, replacing Cortisol is hard! But as the medical guide says Cortisol is "essential for life", so it may be hard but it's got to be done :-)