Most have never heard of it. I've had to live it.
I know, I look healthy, right? Appearance means nothing in the world of chronic illnesses. I won't get medically technical with all of this, because honestly, I don't know everything that this disease entails. I just know how it's made me feel, and how it's affected my life.
I was diagnosed the summer of 2008. I had been sick for the majority of my Sophomore year of high school. I had lost about 20 pounds, was always hungry, could never sleep, and had absolutely zero energy. One Sunday night I was especially sick. My mom decided that she was taking me to the emergency room. They ran test upon test, and finally came to the conclusion that something was wrong with my thyroid. The thyroid is the large gland in the neck that controls how fast your entire body system works. If it's even a little bit off, you can get very, very sick. And my thyroid was incredibly overactive.
They referred me on to a specialist. After looking at my family history, he informed me that I mostly likely had Graves' Disease, but to be sure he did a few more tests. The results were positive.
Graves' Disease is an autoimmune disease. One presentation of it is in the thyroid. The body attacks the thyroid gland, causing it to work overtime. Symptoms include: heat intolerance, weight loss, increased appetite, fatigue, anxiety, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, hair loss, hyperactivity, and tremors. Basically everything that I had been suffering from for the past year.
The treatment? Well, there isn't one. Not for Graves' Disease. The best they can do is treat the hyperthyroidism. My method of treatment? Radioactive iodine. It destroys your thyroid permanently, causing you to be permanently hypothyroid (the opposite of what I had. Basically an underactive thyroid.) Frankly, it's not the best method. I no longer have a functioning thyroid, and have to take thyroid replacement hormones. I'll be on medicine and require frequent medical check-ups for the rest of my life. It's very easy for my levels to get off, and they usually are off.
Even though I have received treatment for my thyroid, the affect of Graves' remains. Treating the thyroid doesn't treat the depression and chronic fatigue that Graves' causes. Many people struggling with this illness often have trouble maintaining jobs, family, and social lives.
I'm determined not to become that. I will live a full, joyous life. I know the work that God has called me to do, and I am absolutely determined that with His help, I will accomplish it.
I still have my bad days. I forget to take my medicine, and I have weird mood swings. I tire easily. But God is carrying me through all this, and He's helping me stand when I'm just too tired to stand on my own.