I was diagnosed in 2011 with an auto-immune disease known as Grave's Disease. Grave's Disease is a thyroid disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism). The signs and symptoms of Grave's can be challenging for the patient as well as the doctors involved – my own prognosis took over 8 months. The side effects mimicked other illnesses, and I was being misdiagnosed... meanwhile I was losing my hair, exhausted to the point I couldn't get out of bed for more than 5 minutes, and my heart felt on some days like it was slamming its way out of my chest. I was told I had everything but a thyroid disorder by at least three doctors. In fact, my old endocrinologist used to tell me if it hadn't been for me pushing for more tests and asking "why" it may not have been caught.
When I was diagnosed, like most folks, I did think "well, there goes life as I know it." I was asked at the time to stop gluten by one of the doctors I was with, to see if it would help alleviate some of the pain I was in. It did, so bye-bye gluten. Bye-bye pizza, beer, and alllll those fried foods I loved to eat. Yes, there were a few days of wrapping my head around the situation - actually, weeks - but when I did, I realized it wasn't a bad thing. I was getting a chance to kinda start over.
I sat down and made a list for myself on "what to do to make my health better." As I talk about this, keep in mind I am human, so I'm far from perfect with this, but I can say that I am walking MY walk. I gave up gluten, stopped smoking on a daily basis, I took more time for me, rested when I needed and began to look at how stress was affecting my day-to-day life. I had nodules on my thyroid and weighed at the time about 118 lbs - I'm 5'9" with a body type that needs more meat on it. One of the side effects of Graves is anxiety, and I am already an anxious Virgo (hint my birthday is coming up!), so this was compounded for me. Knowing this would be part of the new life, I studied Transcendental Meditation and began a dance with taking yoga (more on that later), hit up workouts like Soul Cycle with my BFFs and penciled in time for simple walks or runs around my neighborhood. Simple steps to a better me... oh, and mad props to those self-help books I read. I had a bookshelf lined with 'em!
My main reason for this approach was because most doctors, depending on the severity of your diagnosis, will suggest an RAI treatment (radioactive iodine treatment) to kill your thyroid, which is what my original doctor wanted. I chose not to do this, but this is because I wanted to try it another way, a hybrid method.
Now, look, I'm not a doctor myself and not a professional medical anything, so all I can share with you is my story and relationship with Graves, so please know all of this I did WITH my doctor working with me, but I did agree that if at any time I wasn't getting better I would consider the RAI treatment. I wanted to try expunging the "bad" stuff in my life, the best I could, and mix it with meds. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am/was, and I get that. We're all on our own journey in this, but we can be here to hold each other's hand and share our tales, can't we? And PS: It's been working for me for 6+ years. Have there been hurdles, well, yes, but I got through them.
I wasn't lucky enough to find other people who I could talk to in person when I was diagnosed, I just didn't find many people who had this issue. So I Googled for days on end, exploring online what avenues there were, looking for others in forums and on community boards so I could educate myself about the subject. What I really wanted was a safe spot to ask some questions or maybe find someone who, like me, was going to try a little Eastern medicine combined with some Western medicine (again, more on all of this later!). I simply wanted - needed! - to find like-minded people who could be positive alongside me during this process.
All of this to share that I'd like you to join me for #ThyroidThursday (USA time) here on the blog. I'll be posting about some of the issues I've had, and sharing stories as well as getting others I know who are dealing with Graves Disease and/or hyperthyroid to share theirs, too. All in hopes we can help each other in a positive and loving manner. If you're down, I'll be here posting - and I hope you'll let me know in the comments what YOU would like to see, too.
It's said again and again, but we're all truly in this together.
xoxo - Anne