My Graves’ Disease Story
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. I may swear a little bit too so beware. Also, I am not a professional writer. I wrote this to get my story out and not to win a writing contest.
This Graves’ Disease story of mine was originally intended to be a book. I decided that it may reach and help more people if I posted it on my blog.
I have been sitting on these words for about 5 years or so contemplating if I even wanted to tell this story at all. The main reason was that I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me but honestly, I have to say, it’s been very therapeutic for me and if it helps someone, I feel that may be the most important thing to me.
In these posts I will discuss my symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and experiences with Graves’ Disease. I know that many of you who have the disease may have chosen a different path for treatment then me or may have different opinions other than mine and that’s okay, this is strictly the choices that I made for MY life.
Although Graves’ Disease is a serious, incurable disease and can be deadly if not treated in time, I have chosen to put some humor into this because, well, that’s me. I am 100% REAL in what I’ve written about this journey I am sharing with you and that scares me to death, but, I felt like I needed to tell it, and here it is!
I will admit though, as I look back on some of the things that have happened to me, at the time they sure weren’t funny but it’s been 13 years since I was diagnosed and as I looked back, read notes and read some of my medical records it’s hard not to laugh about some of the things I went through and you’ll understand that after you read this.
If you do not have Graves’ Disease, I hope that you are never diagnosed with it and consider yourself lucky. If you have Graves’ Disease, any other thyroid disorder OR are having symptoms that my suggest thyroid problems, I hope that you can either relate and know that you are not alone or go to the doctor to see if you may have a thyroid condition.
Graves’ Disease is an autoimmune disease that leads to an overactive thyroid, also known as, hyperthyroidism. Some of the symptoms that may occur are:
- Difficulty sleeping, anxiety, tremors, urges to clean the house at 1am
- Sweating when it’s 30 degrees outside
- Constant bowel movements after almost every meal and sometimes almost shitting yourself.
- Trouble swallowing because your thyroid has enlarged so much (also known as goiter) that it causes an annoying cough and difficulty eating the 40 chicken wings that you want to inhale.
- Eye problems such as sensitivity to light, protruding eyes, red eye, dry eye, tearing and many other fun optical illusions.
- Skin problems such as, reddening and thickening of the shins and tops of feet as well as odd, itchy bumps that may just appear for no apparent reason.
The scary part is if it is left untreated it can lead to heart problems or a thyroid storm which can cause life threatening complications such as high fever, irregular heartbeat, confusion, shaking, stroke, emotional distress, unconsciousness or death.
Some doctors say that Graves’ Disease can be caused by genetics and/or environmental factors but have no specific proof or reason as to why the immune system would attack healthy cells in your body by mistake. My mother told me that my grandmother had a thyroid disorder and described to me some of the symptoms that she had. My grandmother died when I was young so I had no clue that she had these problems. Some of her symptoms were depression, anxiety and a bulging eye. As soon as I heard a bulging eye, I immediately thought Graves’ Disease. Everything started to make sense to me at that point.
There is no cure for Graves’ Disease but there are different kinds of treatments that you can choose from that can make life more bearable. I chose to swallow a radioactive pill and kill all the cells in my thyroid after taking anti-thyroid medications for 2 years….and this is the story that led to that decision.