Friday, April 11, 2014

Cushing's Awareness Month: Degree of Difficulty

I enjoy a good obstacle course game show. As a child, I fell in love watching Battle of the Network Stars. I DVRed Wipeout and giggle throughout. I am such a Ninja Warrior fan, I can't even tell you. 

I didn't make the connection to that interest until I saw the cartoon below posted by my friend, the incomparable MaryO, founder of

I see this cartoon, and it is clear to me very quickly. That reality looks easy. That reality is doable. That is stuff people can get through. We all expect that. Life has ups and downs. We made it through childhood, we get that.

The reality looks like a cake walk compared to Cushing's diagnosis and treatment. That, I was never prepared for. 

After fighting for seven years from first seeing the word CUSHING'S in March 2007, I have been on the long and circuitous path to diagnosis, pituitary surgery, rediagnosis, pituitary surgery 2, rediagnosis, medical therapy with ketoconazole, rediagnosis, bilateral adrenalectomy, and now bimonthly lab work.


I must determine the optimal balance of 20 to 25 hormones despite a damaged pituitary gland and zero adrenal glands. I have no functioning master gland, no hormone control center. I take pills, use patches, and slather gels multiple times a day. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 

So if I were handy or artsy in more than one cell, I would draw up a new cartoon to resemble my reality -- and many Cushies' shared reality -- to win good hormone health. 

- Drops would fall back down to or below starting point

- Fewer ladders

- Ferocious beasts chasing us back to start or keeping us in the same spot for weeks and months, some hidden so we never see what we are fighting

More creeks without paddles

- Hidden quick sand and tar pits

After every obstacle imaginable, take that course and duplicate five times. No. TEN TIMES. That is the life of a Cushie. 

In my cartoon, the finish line flag has hearts in each square and a line of friends pinning blue/yellow medals of honor and bravery upon each other. I'd give each one the red badge of Moxie.