Just for fun I came up with an analogy to help people understand just how much damage Cushing’s can cause, how long it takes to heal from it and what it gets replaced with.
I decided to think of Cushing’s as a particularly grumpy cat that loves to claw at you. You’re stuck in a room with this cat and it just keeps on scratching and clawing at you constantly. Those who have cyclical Cushing’s might have a lazier cat that will claw at them for a few weeks or months then leave them alone for a few weeks or months. Myself, I had a very energetic cat that clawed at me 24/7 for at least 4 years. The constant clawing means nothing can heal.
Then along comes treatment. For me, that was pituitary tumour removal. For others it might be an adrenal tumour removal or tapering down on the steroids they have to take for other conditions. My tumour was removed so the cat is no longer in the room with me. Finally my body can heal. However think about all those scratches. Many people think the cat is gone, you’re fine now! Not so. I’m healing tons of damage and my body can only do so much of that a day. Add that to potentially getting complications such as infections in those scratches, or that some might be so deep and scarred that they won’t ever fully heal and you start to get an idea as to why we take so long to recover and rarely get back to 100%.
There’s one more beast in this analogy. The cat doesn’t just leave and stay gone. There’s always a risk it will sneak back into the room (unless both adrenals are removed). I’m constantly on edge listening out for the cat scratching at the door and windows and to top it off I instead have a guard dog (adrenal insufficiency). The guard dog ignores me most days provided I feed it (stay on top of my replacement hydrocortisone) but if I forget or it’s feeling particularly hungry, it could go for my throat at any time (adrenal crisis).
Hopefully one day I will no longer need the guard dog (I’ll make my own cortisol again) and the cat will never find a way back into the room.