THE family of a Chippenham man who died of a rare hormonal disorder have told of the despair his illness caused before it was diagnosed.

An inquest held in Flax Bourton on Tuesday ruled that John Goacher, 51, of Stonelea Close, died of natural causes on May 18 last year, after having surgery at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.

The operation was intended to ease the symptoms of Cushing's Disease, which included obesity, a rounded face, increased fat around the neck and thinning arms and legs.

Cushing's is a disorder that floods the body with the cortisol hormone. It affects 10 in every million people each year. Most people affected are between 20 and 50 years old.

It gave Mr Goacher high blood pressure, diabetes, muscle weakness and osteoporosis and also reduced his life expectancy to a matter of years if left untreated.

But it was the psychological problems set off by the disease that caused the most anxiety.

Before Cushing's Disease caused a raft of psychological problems, Mr Goacher was a senior reliability engineer for a top secret Government agency and used to travel to London to advise Government scientists on missile weapons.

His wife Linda said: "John's personality completely changed and he did some very strange and destructive things.

"We did not get much help or sympathy at first because we did not know that it was Cushing's.

"His friends and family thought he was being deliberately troublesome and it put a great deal of stress on our family and friends.

"He had violent episodes, smashing down doors and wrecking things, and was eventually sectioned because of his mental problems.

"He used to say he felt like he was in a bubble where everything he did inside it seemed to be normal but to everyone outside the bubble he appeared to be losing his mind.

"I did some research on the internet and discovered that Cushing's might be at the root of it and after a lot of pressure we finally got John referred."

Mr Goacher was eventually diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of the debilitating disease in February last year.

He then had to face the stress of risky surgery to the malfunctioning pituitary gland inside Mr Goacher's skull.

The operation performed by consultant neurosurgeon Richard Nelson initially yielded positive results but within days Mr Goacher's health took a turn for the worst.

Speaking at the inquest, deputy coroner Anthony Woodburn said: "Without the operation Mr Goacher's life would have come to a distressing end quite quickly.

"An infection occurred in his pituitary gland after surgery which cause the massive bleeding and subsequent heart attack that led to his death.

"The underlying cause of this was an aggressive form of Cushing's Disease from which all the other problems stemmed."

Mrs Goacher said: "I can't help feeling that so much pain could have been avoided if John had been diagnosed earlier."

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