Acromegaly, Goliath and the Book that Inspired Me

I am a huge Malcolm Gladwell fan.

Published in 2013, Gladwell’s David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants speaks to those who are at a cross roads, feeling defeated, preparing for a huge undertaking, or looking to the future for a change. 

“It is a book about what happens when ordinary people confront giants. By “giants”, I mean powerful opponents of all kinds- from armies and mighty warriors to disability, misfortune, and oppression.”

The setting of the introduction brings you to the valley of Elah in the Mediterranean during the battles of ancient Palestine. Gladwell retells the biblical story of David and Goliath but in such a way that the true essence of David – the pitied, weak, most likely failure, and underdog can and should be re-told and remembered.

Medical experts now believe Goliath was suffering from acromegaly.

The young shepherd named David stepped up to his king Saul and said, “Yes I can and will take on the giant” (who experts now assert had acromegaly). Saul thought he was out of his damn mind and Goliath was straight up insulted.

David was a shepherd by trade, but he was also a skilled slinger. He knew how to fight wild animals and from a distance to protect his herd so he was skilled in projectile battle tactics. In other words, he knew how to use an old school sling shot really, really well. He took out Goliath in a few seconds, saved the day, and went down in history as one of the coolest shepherd’s ever.

History however enforces our remembrance of this great battle with David as being the least likely victor just because he was smaller and appeared weaker. His wit and skill, confidence and ability were all overseen and are never remembered.

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Rare disease patients overcome and inspire everyday.

Here at Patient Worthy we prefer to find, see, speak and remember the truth. We aim to find patients and advocates who eat challenges for breakfast and wash them down with a tall glass of “I am going to overcome.” Living with a rare disease is no easy thing!

While the purpose of this post is to inspire those feeling a little down, let’s talk about Goliath for a hot second. 

Living with acromegaly can certainly make a person feel like a misfit at times.

As with many rare diseases, there may be symptoms that don’t necessarily “add up” for your doctor. Many people are bounced back and forth between specialists and undergo test after test.

Headaches may be presumed to be from a sinus infection or ongoing bout of dehydration. The ENT you see may eventually send you to a neurologist to see if it could be a nerve problem. Maybe the neurologist begins with an MRI. Other illnesses may be found through this pre-diagnosis journey like heart disease, diabetes or sleep apnea. Only in hindsight are they attributed to that sporadic tumor found on your pituitary gland.

I personally am not living with acromegaly, which is caused by a very overworked pituitary gland, and excessive levels of growth hormone which can lead to progressive enlargement of hands, feet, and face. I have however, met some really incredible patients and have had the pleasure of working with them to produce content here on Patient Worthy.

Sandro Georgi Photography

Stay tuned to meet Rob, read his full story and watch the Patient Worthy video series about living with acromegaly in the coming months when we feature acromegaly to support the Acromegaly Community and their Bi-annual Meeting, April 29-May 1st. 
Rob, is retired military and currently works as an IT specialist for the Navy. He has been married for 34 years, is a #raredad and has to two daughters whom he loves unconditionally. Rob’s acromegaly was diagnosed early enough to be treated by the first line treatment- surgery.

Also, be sure to check back for Rob’s full story!

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