The Difficult Side of the Healing Process

Caitlin McDonough avatar

by Caitlin McDonough |

Share this article:

Share article via email
Cushing's disease diagnosis | Cushing's Disease News | banner image for

One of the biggest lessons that I learned on my Cushing’s journey was that listening to my body wasn’t always what I wanted to do, but it’s what was best for me.

My journey with cyclical Cushing’s disease spanned several years, with my symptoms first appearing in 2011. I was struggling with daily headaches, fatigue, brain fog, and joint pain. During this time, I longed for answers, wondering what hope they may or may not bring. That hope helped carry me through some of the most difficult times.

But even after I was diagnosed and had transsphenoidal surgery in 2016 to remove my pituitary adenoma, I still found myself struggling with symptoms and wondering when my health would improve.

I had to learn to manage my expectations. I wasn’t going to wake up from surgery and feel back to my old self, despite wanting that so badly. It would take time and effort to heal.

Recommended Reading
adrenal surgery | Cushing's Disease News | adrenalectomy | illustration of doctor with charts

Technique Speeds Adrenal Gland Recovery After Surgery

Healing is a process — one that often doesn’t look pretty and takes much longer than anticipated. It requires time, patience, and work, which involve taking a step back and listening to what your body needs.

When I was recovering from pituitary surgery in 2016 and 2017, taking steps toward healing felt like failure to me. Flares and relentless fatigue would force me to take breaks — my body’s way of showing me that I needed to slow down. I wanted to be better, but my mindset wasn’t helping me.

I found myself holding on to the expectation that I would soon be as healthy as I once was. I learned through tough lessons that healing looks different for everyone. For me, that meant my healing spanned multiple years post-op.

I had to learn to be gentle with myself and appreciate the small steps toward healing. I was able to truly start healing when I let go of unrealistic expectations. I realized that although the growth I was experiencing was not what I had initially expected, it was still growth. I learned the importance of celebrating the small victories.

I celebrated when my pituitary gland finally “woke up” and started producing adrenocorticotropic hormone, or ACTH, again in 2017. I was able to wean off the steroids my body had required post-surgery.

I learned to appreciate my ability to tolerate a routine again. I could get back to cooking meals, which I hadn’t been able to do for months after my surgery.

I worked on being thankful for my ability to walk a few blocks, rather than focusing on when I’d be able to run a mile again.

I began to celebrate how much I had been through, instead of thinking about how much I’d lost during my years of struggling. That was a sign that I was truly healing.

Healing is a continuous process, which took me time to realize. Now six years out from surgery, I continue to heal and make progress.

Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.


Lucie avatar


hmm my friend wot is 5years out of yr life eh u very lucky it took Dr's 15yrs for me & been 7yrs 'recovery' from op.
Lost 37kg these last 7yrs so suppose another 7yrs for the other 30kg eh


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.