A Cousin’s Experience with a Pituitary Acromegaly
Author: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP
I have been given the need to think about resilience in the face of serious conditions, such that they require special surgery. How do we account for the resilience? I can’t quite get my hands around this question. My grandfather lived a long life and retired at age 70 years as a mechanic so that a younger person could take the job. He looked after my loving grandmother with dementia with great care. He woke up early every morning and walked a good several miles before embarking on his day. He loved to have his grandchildren visit at least every Friday. He also loved to come to Detroit from Cleveland and fix anything in our house that could use fixing.
His younger son was a brilliant scholar, always reading, and a top student in his school in Hungary, so that he tutored the school principal’s children. He was unable to finish his medical school studies because of the incursion of WW II. He came to Cleveland and had a good career in selling insurance, and he could manage difficult calculations in his head. He could recite the prologue to the Iliad throughout his life. He lived to 99 years. He liked to dance and enjoy himself.
My Uncle Herman had an only daughter. I nickname her Lulu. She and her husband have lived in Georgia for many years. My sister was visiting her and told her that she was not like her younger pictures and was masculinizing in her features. She had a serious anterior pituitary tumor called acromegaly that secretes growth hormone. She has used the Cleveland Clinic all her life and she was referred to a former NIH physician in Los Angeles who is recognized as a world authority. She has had two surgical procedures in about two decades and is followed assiduously. There have been complicated events that were related to her present condition, but she has managed it all well. I get a call from time to time for assistance in a second opinion to review the radiology and pathology reports. Despite her condition, she has an ability to take it all in stride. I had made a recommendation many years ago on a diet that included sufficient omega 3. The downside was that when visited by relatives the use of a good restaurant is not as enjoyable. However, as I still recall, going to dinner in Florida with Herman’s brother was an experience because Dave’s wife was a far better cook.
When I was handling my own thyroid condition in the last two years I heard from Lulu. She encouraged me and said that I was a Schwartz. That was the story. Our only living aunt is 95 and doing quite well except for her macular degeneration. She lives in upstate New York near her daughter, my cousin Barbara and her husband Stanley. Barbara had a motorcycle accident many years ago, and she was afflicted with an enduring pain that she managed well. It was difficult to visit when she was younger because she was so busy raising her children and taking them to activities.
One might look at this as having good genes, or is it good Jeans. The significant factor is a healthy world view.