Welcome to Ms. Health-Esteem – How Graves Disease Changed My Life

Hello lovelies:

Welcome to Ms. Health-Esteem! A little health haven for anyone who might need one. I’m creating this world as a place to share my own health journey and experiences and encourage others to find their health-esteem along the way. Health-Esteem is not a one day accomplishment. Finding it and maintaining it are a lifelong journey; a journey of joy, self-discovery, self-love and incredible accomplishments. Let me tell you a little bit about my journey.

Welcome to Ms. Health-Esteem - How Graves Disease Changed My Life

At 23 something felt wrong.

I lost a lot of weight very suddenly, I was getting an itchy rash from head to toe on a regular basis with no explanation and my emotions were going crazy. I had just started dating my fiancé and, bless his heart, he helped me through so much from the very beginning. By 24 I was very sick. I rang in 2012 with overgrown toe skin (it’s as sexy as it sounds) that needed surgery and some very strange and unexplained symptoms. The muscles in my legs just wouldn’t stop twitching. The spasms were incredibly intense and very painful.

As time went on the symptoms became worse.

My heart beat became irregular and its rate was 120 BPM resting. I became breathless, even after a short phone conversation. And I was always sweating bullets, felt disgustingly hot. It was impossible to get a good night’s sleep (the joys of insomnia). My insatiable appetite would cause extreme hunger, to the point of nausea. I felt anxious all the time and had difficulty controlling my emotions. My legs kept worsening to the point where I couldn’t walk around the block without being in incredible pain. It felt like I was losing myself, I had no answers and I was terribly afraid.

Thankfully, in April of 2012 I finally had my answer.

“You have Grave’s Disease” my doctor told me, looking at my test results and a pile of information she’d printed off. My first response was to ask if that meant I should start digging. Honestly, why do they name illnesses horrifyingly terrible names. Couldn’t they have picked something better and more hopeful?

“What does that even mean?!” I asked. My doctor is amazing and I am so blessed to have her. However, I think half of what she said sounded Japanese to me that day. My brain was just trying to process that fact that I had an autoimmune disease. A DISEASE! I was 24 damn it… Wasn’t I supposed to be healthy until I was elderly?! This wasn’t the deal!

And for a long time that is how I felt. I blamed myself and I blamed my body for failing me. Unfortunately, I developed a very negative relationship with my body and became very depressed.

I was given some anti-thyroid medication and told to wait. The pills would not stop the disease but would reduce thyroid hormone production and slowly help me feel better. After a year or two they would chemically burn my thyroid and give me pills to replace its function. I would be on medication for the rest of my life.

That never felt good enough to me. I had so many unanswered questions. Why would a reasonably healthy 23 year old develop an autoimmune disease? Why did my immune system decide to attack me? What was going to happen to me? If they didn’t know why and couldn’t stop my immune system’s attack what would happen after my thyroid was burnt?

The pills helped in some ways (my heart rate became normal and I was better able to sleep) and made things… not worse, but different in other ways (my heat intolerance was replaced with cold intolerance; my weight loss was replaced with a LOT of weight gain, etc.). I also developed shingles and anemia and my legs never felt any better.

Over the course of two years, Grave’s Disease took away my ability to do my job that I loved very much, it affected my friendships, my ability to enjoy a long walk, my self-esteem, my pride, my confidence and, of course, my health. But today, at this point in my journey, I can tell you this…

Graves Disease was, in a way, one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Today I am in remission.

I still have my thyroid, I’m not on medication, and on top of that I have my health. Just like with every journey there have been some ups and downs and those will continue to happen. However, I found my health-esteem and I continue to develop it every day. I am filled with joy and I am so grateful for my journey.

This has been an incredible adventure thus far. I look forward to sharing it with you.

Health and love,

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Thought of the day: I will allow every experience to be an opportunity for growth and self-discovery.

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