A Grave Update

A couple of months ago – on January 14th, to be exact – I shared for the first time that I am struggling with Graves disease. If you read that post you’ll know that I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism five years ago. My conventional doctor immediately recommended radioactive iodine – a cure only slightly less problematic than the disease itself, at least in my eyes. I refused and sought alternate treatments.

Eventually, I ended up seeing a naturopathic doctor who gave me hope that I could control my hormone levels naturally through diet, supplements and exercise – falling back temporarily on pharmaceuticals if necessary. For several years it worked, but a blood test this January showed that my thyroid levels had spiked again.

At this point my naturopathic doctor recommended that I see my conventional doctor again, as well as have an eye exam and a bone density test.

I haven’t mentioned it since.

This is because denial is my favorite coping mechanism, closely followed by escapism.

I haven’t, however, been idle in my quest for health. I’ve just been quiet about it. But things are afoot at the Circle K, as they once said in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Over the past two months I’ve watched that one post about Graves climb almost to the top of my “most read posts” and not through any promotion of my own. As I said, I haven’t touched it. But I get a lot of hits through WordPress tags like “hyperthyroidism” and “Graves disease” as well as a few general web searches. Clearly there are people out there who want to know more about hyperthyroidism.

And that has me thinking that I want to do more with this. Not because I’m looking to drive traffic to my blog or for any other sordid reason, but because I’ve seen how communities can grow through blogging and I’ve experienced how supportive those communities can be.

MilSpouses, I’m looking at you.

I’m not yet sure what “more” is going to look like. Ideas flutter and hop excitedly around my brain but I can’t seem to form them into a cohesive plan. I’m thinking food, I’m thinking thyroid, I’m thinking still MilSpouse…but how do these all tie together? Don’t know. Maybe they don’t need to. But the details have held me back for too long, so it’s time to just dive in with a general update.


(not my photo)

After seeing my naturopathic doctor in January, I now had three things on my medical To Do list. I didn’t want to do any of them.

Worse, I couldn’t figure out why the doc was suddenly pushing me back into the field of conventional medicine. He knows I am uncomfortable there, yet all he said was, “Do you want me to continue to handle the case or do you want someone with more experience?”

I appreciated his honesty, but my honest answer would’ve been, “You.” Still, I can kind of understand why he wanted me to see another doctor. There are several reasons that I can come up with:

1. My hormone levels were ridiculous. Not only were my T3 and T4 high, but my TSH, the pituitary hormone that stimulates thyroid production, was way off. Normal range is 0.27 – 4.20. Mine was so low it was immeasurable. (This seems counterintuitive, but when thyroid production is high, the TSH shuts down to try to stop that production. Mine was practically flatlined, but my thyroid gland was still gushing faster than a BP oil spill.)

2. My thyroid antibodies were also, um, high. Thyroid antibodies are the things that are completely confused and have identified the thyroid as a menace. They are trying to get rid of the menace. Range? Should be below 9.0. Mine? Uh…360.

I’m kind of proud of that astronomical figure, in a weird, twisted way. I consider it my justification that this isn’t all in my head. It’s my badge. My free pass to “I’m Screwed Up Land”. Yay, me.

And finally,

3. My husband and I are trying to conceive.

Number three is probably the primary reason my nat doc wanted to hand me off like a baton at relay time. There are all kinds of considerations in the TTC department. One is that it is more difficult to conceive when your thyroid levels are either high or low since this can cause irregular periods (among other problems). Another is how to regulate those levels in a way that is safe for a potential fetus. (I’ll give you a hint – radioactive iodine is not one of them.)

So, there I was. Orphaned. And, oh! “So sad to be all alone in da world.”

Anyone recognize that quote? It’s from this musical.

And with three chores:

1. Appointment with an endocrinologist.

2. Eye exam.

3. Bone density test.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you how I did with my list.

In the meantime, I’ve got a new “Tell Me” poll up in the right sidebar and I’d love it if you would vote. Results will be revealed…sometime.


7 responses to “A Grave Update

  1. Wow. You are one brave and strong woman! Thanks for sharing such an intimate topic with us. We ARE here for you. Stay positive lady!

  2. Thanks for the update. Whether you feel other people are interested in Thyroidism or not, we are still concerned for you. I hope you did well with your list!!

  3. So ok, make the appointments. Do you have an endocrinologist?

  4. I was just diagnosed with hypothyroidism. At first I thought no periods was a great thing, but then when I hadn’t had one in over a year… I figured it was time to find out what was up. It’s a good thing I did too. Now I know why the Hubby and I are not getting pregnant. Stupid thyroids. Who needs em? Well…. I guess we do. *sigh*. I hope you get everything figured out soon. I know I don’t like being poked and prodded, can’t imagine that you like it either. *hugs*

    • Oh man. I’m so sorry to hear that, Whitney. Just make sure you do your research. From what I understand there are good thyroid replacement hormones and bad ones. If you don’t feel right on what you’re on – look into it. Self-advocate! It’s so important. Good luck.


  5. You;re so right on the communities thing – that’s one thing that I think the internet is awesome for – bringing folk together. I think it’ll be the death of our society in other ways, but that’s for another story…..but anyway……Yes, actually that’s how I came into the blogging world really too. Back when I contacted you last fall, I’d found your blog through a random Google search as I was looking for reintegration advice. Before then I don’t think I’d even ever read anyone’s blog, let alone anything else. So I think you’re spot-on with regards to your comment on how sharing information in blogs etc can be a huge positive thing for so many people.

  6. I would have never believed anyone who told me that writing a blog would open the doors to a community I never knew existed out there. But now I totally believe it. I use blogs for all sorts of reasons, so I think by you sharing your experience with Graves disease you are helping so many people than you know about. Actually I found one of OccDoc’s new specialists through a disease-specific blog. I emailed the blogger for a ‘review’ of the doctors and of other specialists in my area and he helped me find the right doctor for us. I’m not saying post details like that, but I think once you start sharing more and more people looking for information are going to use you to research.

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