Unravelling pituitary disease

“Life is good” for Dr. Craig Bauman after undergoing brain surgery for a pituitary tumour. He is among the speakers at Understanding Pituitary Disease on Oct. 4

RELATED: If you go...  Understanding Pituitary Disease will be held Oct. 4, 2016, from 7 to 9 pm at St. Joseph's Hospital. There is no fee but registration is requested.

Dr. Craig Bauman was enjoying an afternoon nap when he suddenly snapped out of sleep and sat bolt upright.

Dr. Craig Bauman

“I felt an intense pain deep in my head – it was a 10 out of 10. I was stunned it was so much pain,” says the Kitchener chiropractor

The pain dissipated after five or 10 minutes but it was the beginning of a perplexing odyssey of strange sensations and symptoms that would take five years to unravel.  

For about one month after that first pain episode, a physically active Craig would feel the odd sense of his brain “going up and down in my head – like a tugging sensation” when he set out on a run. In subsequent years, he noticed he was losing speed as a competitive runner, and strength. At the gym, where he works out six days a week, he went from bench pressing 155 pounds to about 95 pounds. “I thought I was simply getting old,” says Craig, who was 43 when the symptoms began. 

There were other signs of something very wrong. Craig’s libido “tanked”, he began losing hair on his legs but more was growing on his head, and his testosterone levels plummeted. He also became pale, acquired a sensitivity to cold, and began having hot flashes and anxiety. Yet nothing was adding up to a concrete diagnosis.  

By chance, Craig, who works at a family medical centre, attended a continuing education conference where an endocrinologist mentioned the connection between low testosterone and a pituitary tumour. “It was like an epiphany,” he recalls. 

A referral to an endocrinologist and subsequent brain MRI would discover a 2.5 cm pituitary tumour.  Within a week he was booked for a full assessment at the One-Stop Pituitary Clinic at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London. Two months later he underwent brain surgery at London Health Sciences Centre on May 5, 2014, during which the tumour was removed through his nose. 

Today, Craig, 48, has made a full recovery. “It’s like I’m 29 again.” And he’s happy to be sharing his story at the Understanding Pituitary Disease information evening on Oct. 4 at St. Joseph’s Hospital. 

The information night is an opportunity for patients with pituitary issues and their family members to learn directly from various specialists, hear from patients, and have their questions answered. 

Pituitary disease can cause a wide range of disorders requiring testing, imaging and the care of various specialists – neuro-ophthalmologists, endocrinologists, neuro-radiologists, neurosurgeons, and ear nose and throat surgeons. In London, these experts work collaboratively as part of the One-Stop Pituitary Clinic, where newly referred patients conveniently receive initial lab testing, visual field testing and consults with multiple specialists all on the same day. Prior to arriving, patients receive an itinerary of their appointments, which take place at both St. Joseph’s and LHSC, directions, as well as education about the pituitary and what they can expect during their visit.

Craig, who works in a team-based setting in his own workplace, appreciated the streamlined, team approach in London. 

“It was fantastic – everything was organized. It really impressed me to have this experience in a hospital setting.”

While he requires two medications for life, Craig is now back to all his high-energy activities and hopes his experience will motivate and bring hope to others.

“It was a little scary but I’m delighted with the outcome,” says Craig. “Life is good. I feel like I’m living again.”

Craig Bauman crossing the finish line

If you go 

Understanding Pituitary Disease will be held Oct. 4, 2016, from 7 to 9 pm at St. Joseph's Hospital, Shuttleworth Auditorium, Zone D, Level 0, 268 Grosvenor St. in London. There is no fee but registration is requested. For program details and to register, visit www.sjhc.london.on.ca/pituitary-info

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