Despite rapid weight gain and constantly feeling a general sense of being unwell, Allen, now 62, was able to do the time honored tradition of walking his daughter down the aisle in 2012. Allen had played basketball most of his life and enjoyed working out, so he didn’t understand the sudden weight gain. He wanted to be around to enjoy his future grandchildren, so he needed to know the reason behind his symptoms.
An endocrinologist found a tumor on Allen’s pituitary gland and he was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, an illness in which the body produces more estrogen than testosterone, causing weight gain. In May 2013, Allen had the tumor surgically removed at UPMC Presbyterian. By this point, he had gained 80 pounds, was unable to walk, and the disease was causing his bones to deteriorate. A CAT scan revealed that Allen’s hip bones had nearly disintegrated. Total right and left hip replacements were in order.
Allen had his right hip replaced in October 2013. After four days in the hospital, he went home but wasn’t able to move. He soon began physical therapy at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Penn Hills location.
“The pain was so intense, I would actually cry,” remembers Allen. “But my therapist was very encouraging and told me ‘We’re going to get you moving. Don’t worry.’”
Allen kept up with the exercises he was taught and by May 2014, he was back in surgery for a total hip replacement on his left side. At this point, he had the routine down and was excited to start physical therapy at CRS Penn Hills once again.
“My care was excellent at CRS,” says Allen. “And I was able to meet other people who were going through the same thing as me. It was nice for all of us to work together and encourage one another.”
Allen’s therapist, Ron, had him do leg lifts, walk up and down stairs, use the exercise bike, and walk between parallel bars for support. He dedicated himself to each therapy session so he could get as much out of them as possible. Allen also kept up with his exercises at home. He’d lie on his bed and move his legs in a scissor motion, do various leg lifts, and he used exercise bands to gain strength.