My doctor probably thought I was pretty smart, because today I was pretty much an expert in the pituitary gland and its role in the endocrine system. I have slept thousands and thousands of times since my last biology class, so the free Google refresher course was pretty helpful. Of course, Google has a way of leading a person to health message boards, which are notorious for people who thrive on sharing their peculiar medical conditions. Sure, I read about a few average cases, but who isn't intrigued by the pituitary tumor wrapped around the carotid artery or the woman who became blind when a pituitary tumor pressed on her optic nerve?
So anyway, on to the results. Today I found out that I have a 6x6x7mm tumor on my pituitary gland. It is an adenoma, benign, and there is no way to know how long it has been there. The gland itself is about 1 cm in diameter, the size of a pea, so my 6mm tumor is a little more than half the size of the gland. My tumor is not perfectly round, but it has what seems to be a very awesome tail to keep things more interesting. I am thinking of the tail as a mullet of sorts, just to keep a little party in the back. The symptoms associated with it have been with me for at least 15 years, but it seems it is medically impossible to conceive a child with a pituitary adenoma large enough to inhibit FSH and LH production. Since I did conceive a pretty awesome child 4.5 years ago, it would make perfect scientific sense for this tumor to have formed after Lily was conceived. We'll never really know, but I have dealt with amenorrhea and an annovulatory system since I was about 20 years old. Figuring that in, there is no "logical" explanation for how we got Lily, but I am so glad we did.
It might sound a little crazy to be thankful for a tumor diagnosis, but I am actually pretty pleased with it. No, I am not a hypochondriac. I generally have to be convinced I am sick. I have thrown up in some very public places in attempts to convince myself and those around me that I was perfectly well.
Really, though, finding what is actually going on is a wonderful thing, and here are a few of the reasons why:
- I will not be having my ovaries drilled. As excited as I was about marching into the surgery center wearing a "Drill, Baby Drill!" t-shirt and carrying a "Let My People Drill" poster, I am pretty relieved that I will not be undergoing surgery. I am bummed that I won't be getting those days of relaxation that follow the surgery, but avoiding anesthesia and the pain of recovery is a pretty good trade off.
- I found out this pituitary adenoma has affected my prolactin levels, making them very low. This might sound dramatic, but one of things that caused me the most anguish was breastfeeding. I had read hundreds of pages in books, spent an entire Saturday in a pricey breastfeeding class, went through three lactation consultants, rented a hospital grade pump and tried every home remedy known to man. I just did not produce much milk. Instead of sleeping while my baby slept, I was pumping away to no avail. To be honest, I had always been able to achieve pretty much everything in life I had worked for, and there had been few things in life I was willing to work as hard for as breastfeeding. I kept trying and trying and prayed that no soul would ask me how it was going. According to my medical records, my prolactin levels have been off for a long time. I am finally letting myself off the hook on my breastfeeding failure, and it is pretty cathartic.
- The size of my tumor is pretty significant, but not so much that they will be cutting through any tissue to take it out. It is large enough to cause some major hormonal upheaval, but small enough that I won't need surgery. Every time I dodge the surgery bullet I am pretty happy camper.
- I finally know why I don't ovulate. That is huge. Knowing the "why" provides a path to the "how." My physician has a laid out some great options for us. After I follow up with an endocrinologist (my genius doctor is a reproductive endocrinologist), I will receive injectable gonadotropins to induce ovulation. My condition is rare, but my doctor has a 100% success rate in dealing with it.
"For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."