Cushing’s Syndrome: Disease Treatment Leaves Man Unable to Feel Fear

Jordy Cernik isn’t afraid of anything. It’s not that he has some kind of super ability that makes him fearless or special secret agent training that defies normal reactions to stressful situations. Jody doesn’t feel fear because of a side-effect to surgery used to help treat his rare disease. You can learn more about Jordy here.

Jordy, who was working in the television industry, had started gaining weight and was suffering from near constant sweating. Through testing it appeared that his symptoms were the result of his body over producing cortisol, a human hormone. He had too much cortisol in his body.

In 2005 , Jordy was diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome. Jordy’s weight gain and excessive sweating were just two symptoms of a larger list that include: Buffalo Hump (fatty tissue deposits between the shoulder blades), mid section weight gain, purple or pinkish stretch marks (called striae), and thin skin that is easily bruised. Cushing’s syndrome patients often find their skin doesn’t heal quickly after a bug bite or due to injury or infection.

His adrenal glands, responsible for producing the hormone adrenaline, were removed in surgery. Adrenaline is responsible for our feeling of fear and stimulation during threatening situations. The flight or fight response is found in most animals including humans.

A side effect of the removal of his adrenal glands is that Jody doesn’t feel the emotion of fear. He first noticed that he wasn’t afraid when he would go on rides at a local amusement park and he felt bored on the rides. No excitement at all.

“Watching my kids running around a street, normally I’d be scared thinking they’re going to fall over and hurt themselves, and now I don’t have that which is a big shame.” – Jordy Cernik

Surgery is one of the ways physicians treat Cushing’s syndrome. In some cases, if the patient is currently using corticosteroids, a reduction of the corticosteroids is enough to relieve symptoms. Still other patients are treated successfully with either medications or radiation therapy.
Cushing’s syndrome, if left untreated, can lead to many long-term complications for patients suffering from it. Those complications can include: Type 2 Diabetes, depletion of muscle mass, loss of strength, increased rate of infections, high blood pressure and bone loss.

Jordy reports that it isn’t only his absence of fear that has resulted from the removal of his adrenal glands, but also he has noticed a lack of motivation. He said he has to really work hard to motivate himself to do things. Sometimes even simple tasks are difficult because of the absence of his inner drive.

One area that Jordy seems motivated in is the area of anxiety treatment. Some researchers have been using Jordy in their research into anxiety disorders and their treatment. He says, he’d feel “brilliant” if his state of fearlessness could help people who are dealing with this problem.

Donald Blake

Donald Blake

Donald Blake has a BS in Communication Studies. He has a lengthy tenure in the healthcare, media and education fields. He is dedicated to improving the lives of those with rare diseases through his knowledge of healthcare and communications.

Follow us