Living

The doctor said it's official; I have Grave's disease

Today I went to the endocrinologist, who confirmed that I do indeed have Grave's disease. I don't know what answer I was hoping for, but in some way, I think I was praying for a miracle.

Doctor holding pills

I sat and nervously bounced my knee in the waiting room today, which isn’t really a waiting room so much as a random hallway in the middle of St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver. I was nervous, but I can say that I feel surrounded by experts who really know their stuff and at least I would have answers. You can move on after getting answers. Besides, my birthday is next week and it is my firm belief that nothing can go wrong on your birthday.

I prefaced my entrance into the doctor’s office by emphatically saying “27 is going to be my year!” He smiled warmly and said, “Maybe 28.” Hmm. Not a good start.

It turns out, that I do, in fact, have Grave’s Disease. I’m not quite sure what I expected to hear but I think I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening. This could be the life of someone else. The doctor explained that I am quite the serious case, with my blood work at the top of the charts and some of the highest he’s seen in someone my age. He explained a lot of my symptoms that I hadn’t been aware of. I’ve been having a hard time spelling, typing, and speaking properly. I sweat in the coldest of air conditioned rooms. I feel dizzy every time I stop moving and I feel so lethargic that sometimes it feels I can hardly walk across the room. I’ve lost over twenty pounds now. All of this is thyroid related.

The plan is to radiate my thyroid with iodine, which will completely kill it, meaning life will then be a constant balancing act of medications. However, they can’t even do that yet, since my hormone levels are so high that radiation is currently impossible. So I’m on medication to suppress the pesky gland for a month before I can even begin treatment. The radiation means that for a week, no one can be around me, I can’t take public transit, and most importantly, I can’t be around any pregnant women, since the radiation can severely affect them.

The doctor says that the most important thing to watch for in all this is changes in my mood, since Grave’s disease can drastically affect your mental health, due both to the ramifications on your life as well as a chemical imbalance in the brain due to the disease itself. I worry that this is the symptom getting the best of me, which can only be heightened since I’m alone in this new city. Worst yet, thanks to my radioactivity after the iodine treatment, no one can even plan to visit me. I can’t go home because I need all of my doctors. It looks to be a lonely month.

I suppose my advice of the day is if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, speak up. Talk to your doctor. Ask for the blood work to be done. Because if you’re like me, you blame that exhaustion on life. You’re busy, right? You’re running your kids to daycare and then off to your job and maintaining relationships and perhaps going to school or moving across the country–it’s enough to make anyone tired! But if this feeling persists, get checked out. Over 2% of all women have hyperthyroidism. That’s a statistic to be reckoned with.

I’m a little sad today, I’ll admit. I’m nervous about what the future holds for me. 27 isn’t really shaping up to be my year, but I can assure you, 28 is going to be big.

Kelly