Balancing Self Care and Medical Care with Graves Disease

Balancing Self Care and Medical Care with Graves Disease

Hello Lovelies:

As most of you know I am Graves Disease Warrior, intent on thriving and living in harmony with my autoimmune disease.

I do this in many ways: by treating myself with the utmost amount of kindness and respect. I love myself unapologetically and make decisions based on what will be best for my health and wellbeing. By eating mindfully; consuming what I believe will benefit my biological functions and support my health. I surround myself with amazing people (thank you, I am so grateful for all of you!). I’ve learned to be incredibly self-aware; when my body shows signs of dysfunction I listen and react accordingly.

But I also have medical help. I have an amazing family doctor and a wonderful endocrinologist that provide me with excellent care.

It’s a delicate and necessary balance. But self care and medical care are imperative if you want to thrive with an illness like Graves Disease. Here’s why:

Balancing Self Care and Medical Care with Graves Disease - Why it's necessary to build a healthy lifestyle with Graves Disease whilst still receiving medical care (even in remission)

There’s this strange idea that natural wellness and medical treatment can’t go hand in hand.

I’m all about finding the right diet for your body, creating a lifestyle that allows you to heal and thrive and relying on natural ways to maintain your health.

Radicalizing my diet and lifestyle gave me back my life; it affected me so dramatically that I almost couldn’t believe it! Before I did a 180 on my way of living, I was a prisoner to my symptoms, constantly experiencing pain and discomfort. Honestly, I had almost given up.

I’m so glad that I found the strength to believe that I could foster positive changes and had the tenacity to do it. The lifestyle that I’ve created for myself has not only affected my health by calming the fires of my disease, it’s allowed me to feel happier, more energetic and hopeful than I did even before my diagnoses.

I am in love with my world, enamored by all of the possibilities that stand before me. I know that I will continue to thrive with Graves Disease… but I am not a prisoner of my diagnoses.

I know that a diet focused on fostering good health and a lifestyle created on the foundations of self-love and respect can do amazing things for everyone! But that doesn’t mean that I cut my doctors out of my equation (or that I would ever recommend that).

My doctors saved my life.

Without Propylthyouracil (antithyroid medication), a myriad of blood tests, hospital exams and those two amazing dedicated doctors I don’t know if I’d be here today.

Left untreated Graves Disease can lead to a thyroid storm, congestive heart failure and death.

I’m not trying to be dramatic or depressing, that’s simply the nature of the beast. If you have Graves Disease, this is something you really need to be aware of. We are so fortunate to have been born in an age where medical science can save us. And part of a self-loving lifestyle is making sure that you receive the medical attention that you need.

Autoimmune diseases like Graves are incurable.

You may see people telling you otherwise on this crazy place we call the internet (it’s happened to me) but unfortunately, at this point in time, there is no cure.

It’s an unfortunate side effect of the usually awesome functions of our immune system. Like an Elephant, there are certain things that the immune system never forgets… and autoantibodies happen to be one of them.

That doesn’t mean you can’t achieve remission (I have). Or that there’s no chance that you’ll ever be off medication (sometimes it’s possible, but please do this with the guidance of a medical professional). It doesn’t even mean that you can’t live symptom free (I do).

Incurable doesn’t have to mean that you’re trapped in a life of illness and agony. It just means that you need to be mindful that relapse is always a possibility; you will have to learn to dance through life with an autoimmune disease.

You will need to create a world where you love yourself so much that you are able to create a lifestyle that supports your health. This means feeding yourself with kindness, comforting yourself as you overcome hurdles, and giving yourself the time and space you need to find your way. You will have to be aware that certain things like stress and illness may cause a relapse. And as difficult as it can be, life will be much easier for you once you learn to accept that this is a part of you. This will take a lot of time and effort but it is so worth it.

Graves Disease is a part of me.

It will always be a part of me, no matter what treatment options I choose (I decided to keep my thyroid, unless it becomes medically necessary not to). Graves Disease will be there no matter where life takes me… I will always have to take this with me. There will always be risks. There will always be the potential for a relapse.

But I choose to look at Graves Disease as my guide. Peeking out from the shadows when I’ve pushed myself too hard, when I need to slow down, when my body or mind are tired. Once I accepted my Graves Monster, we’ve learned to live pretty well in harmony.

But that doesn’t mean relapse will never happen.

I experienced a spike in autoantibodies over the summer. No symptoms, no effects on my thyroid, but a spike none the less. Life happened, stress happened, this happened. But that’s ok! I heard the message loud and clear and I made sure to give myself some extra love and care. And it worked!

My autoantibody levels have been going back down fast! But after bathing in a sea of autoantibodies for a few months my last set of blood tests showed an increase in thyroid levels; the autoantibodies are on their way out, but their echoes have started to impact my thyroid. My doctors and I believe that this will be short lived, but I needed to decide how I would like to approach it for the time being.

I chose a small dose of Propylthyouracil and plenty more blood work to keep an eye on things. I don’t want to risk developing symptoms. A year ago I would have felt like a failure; like I didn’t do something right, like I caused this somehow. But I’ve learned that this doesn’t make me a failure. This is simply what I have and I love myself enough to know that sometimes I’ll need a little more than a great diet and amazing lifestyle.

To all my fellow Graves Warriors and autoimmune fighters:

You are incredible, you are brilliant and you will prevail. No matter what treatment option you choose, if it is what’s right for you and best for your health then you have nothing to feel ashamed about. Needing medical care doesn’t make you weak.

I urge you to build a foundation of self-love and respect, to know that your ailments, symptoms and relapses… they are not your fault and they are not your failures. It’s ok to accept outside help when you need it. It’s ok to lean on those around you. This does not make you weak.

I’m rooting for you,

Health and love,

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Thought of the day: We are not failures for seeking help outside of ourselves.

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4 Comments

  1. Everything you say makes perfect sense. My journey is very similar; I had a Thyroid Storm and I survived it (only just) and this was due to wonderful doctors. I have come across my fair share of doctors who are not interested in working functionally but thats okay, I have just moved on and I have found a fantastic doctor who listens to me. I am keeping my Thyroid too Sara, some people think we are crazy and should just get rid of it and pop a pill every day but its not really that simple. I love my life and sure there are hard days but I always know that tomorrow is a new start and will be a better, or even a great day.
    Keeping fighting the fight x

    1. Thank you so much! I’m so glad that you had wonderful doctors to help you get through a Thyroid Storm. That must have been terrifying! Thank goodness you’re ok! It makes me happy to hear that you’ve found great doctors willing to work with you and respect your wishes too.

      I’m very lucky to have a great family doctor who made sure I got into an amazing Endocronologist. They’ve been very respectful of my wishes and have helped to make it possible on their end (although, as you know, it’s a lot of work on our end too). I’ve been symptom free since last year (I had a 3 month relapse) and for a whole year before that. Like you, I’d rather not create a whole new health problem (that doesn’t correct the autoimmune issue) and have to pop a pill everyday and potentially not feel like myself. I feel wonderful, and that’s truly what matters!

      Everyday is indeed a new start! Glad to hear from a fellow Graves Warrior who feels the same way <3.

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