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SHS teacher shares harrowing journey to health

Kindergarten and preschool teacher Jared Carlson helps a student with a drawing assignment during a recent class. Photo by Wassillie Gust.

Kindergarten and preschool teacher Jared Carlson helps a student with a drawing assignment during a recent class. Photo by Wassillie Gust.

By AIDEN DIEHL, staff writer

After spending the first semester of school in bed with a rare form of Cushions Disease, Jared Carlson is finally back at Sidney C. Huntington School and teaching the elementary children again.

He described his return in early January as “awesome but horrible,” adding that he was happy to see the children and to finally be back. The kids even told him stories from when he was gone. He said, however, it was a very tiring day for him.

Mr. Carlson described how it all started. At first, he would just have headaches and migraines or sometimes feel really tired for no reason.

Mr. Carlson said although he can’t remember the exact date the troubles began.

He said he was 21 years old, his skin started to turn yellow, which had caused his mother to worry, so she made him go to an endocrinologist who performed an MRI scan and found a tumor on his pituitary gland. The doctor thought it was a cyst and would disappear. Then the doctor diagnosed him with chronic fatigue.
The problems did not go away. Over the course of a few years, he had been diagnosed with many things, including insomnia, hypogonadism, chronic fatigue, and a few kinds of heart disease.

Finally, two years ago, Mr. Carlson went to a doctor because purple stretch marks had appeared. Another MRI revealed that it was truly a tumor and the doctor had diagnosed him with a form of Cushion’s Disease (also known as Cushing’s disease), and it was classified as a hypo enhancing lesion.

The tumor was on his pituitary gland and was half the size of it. The average size of a pituitary gland is the size of a small pea. Mr. Carlson said he was happy to finally find out what was causing the problems.

The type of tumor Mr. Carlson had was classified as a very rare form of cancer known as pituitary adenoma. This form of cancer is so rare there is no general treatment, no way to tell what stage the patient is currently in, and only makes up about nine percent of all brain tumors, according to sources online. The tumor had caused Mr. Carlson to produce abnormal amounts of hormones, causing him to have random anxiety attacks and adrenaline rushes.

Mr. Carlson described it as feeling tired for no reason, then being super jumpy, which was the reason he had insomnia because the tumor would cause more problems at night. He told us that it affected his testosterone levels greatly. The average testosterone levels are between 400 and 900, and Mr. Carlson said that his levels ranged from 68 to 1200.

Mr. Carlson had also gained 30 pounds in water weight in his chest, which had started to cause problems with his breathing because the weight was starting to crush his lungs. He was in the ER for four days because he couldn’t breathe. He described the doctors putting a breathing pipe of sorts down his throat because his throat had closed.

Mr. Carlson received a call from a specialist in San Francisco telling him he didn’t have long to live and that he should see them right away. At this time, Mr. Carlson said he had started to lose his memory and would pass out at random times, so he finally went to San Francisco for surgery and the tumor was removed. Mr. Carlson said that in order to remove the tumor, they had to go through his nose, and because of this he had to live near the hospital until his face had healed a bit. He had said that he was excited to finally be able to drive a car, but he was not allowed to fly on planes because the pressure from the cabin could open the wounds on his healing face and everything would fall out.

They are still performing tests to make sure he is better but have found signs of what might be another tumor, however Mr. Carlson’s recovery is still going well, and he has said he’s feeling better every day.