April is a beautiful time of year. The snow recedes, the winds die down, warmth sets in and the world is exploding with new life. Spring is a period of rebirth; a time of new beginnings. It is no coincidence, in my mind, that 4 years ago April brought me my Graves Disease diagnoses.
A whirlwind of change had fallen into my lap and, if I’m honest, I sometimes continue to fumble with it like a toddler learning to walk. I move on uneasy legs at times, afraid of the next step. Once that fear surpasses I gain more confidence, increase my stride, eagerly bounding forward… and sometimes I fall on my ass and gain a whole new wave of uncertainty. Lather, rinse, repeat. But such is the life of any individual with a chronic illness. And I thank my lucky stars every day that I am a spoonie who’s had many spoons to spare for the last couple of years.
Giving Graves Disease a Positive Purpose
I’ve chosen to give this incurable disease a positive purpose. And I can’t stress enough that that was a choice. I don’t feel that the universe or a god of some sort gave me a disease for some divine reason. I don’t think that I earned it or deserved it. It was not bestowed upon me because I was strong enough to weather its storms.
Sometimes things happen and there isn’t anything you can do about it except adapt and continue moving forward. I’ve had to learn that control, something I very much desire, is something I lack in many aspects of my life.
But how I choose to live with Graves Disease and the purpose that I choose to grant it… those choices belong to me. It took me a long time to get here. And while I am bursting at the seams with gratitude and positivity for the most part, I know that the path to this place was arduous and that it took a ton of strength to get here.
Four years ago I sat in my doctor’s office, heart pounding, sweat boiling, breathe caught in my throat…
I knew that I was about to receive some news that I would rather not hear. I knew that I was very unwell… and I was afraid. I can’t go back 4 years and talk to that terrified girl sitting in the doctor’s office. It’s impossible for me to soothe her fears and take away the difficult journey ahead with all the knowledge and perspective that I have now. I can’t fix that for her. She exists worlds away in 2012.
But Graves Disease is not uncommon; it affects approximately 0.5% of the world’s population.
That’s a lot of people! I know that right now there are people sitting in the doctor’s office, their hearts pounding in their chests, their insatiable appetites inducing nausea as their bodies emaciate, minds racing in a tremor and insomnia induced frustration… these are people that I can talk to. So I dedicate this to them.
You will be ok.
I know that solves nothing, and it’s the most incredibly clichéd thing for me to say. But you need to know it. You will be ok. I desperately needed to hear this from someone who had been in my shoes 4 years ago. I began treatment knowing that it would be a long and difficult path; fearing that incurable might mean insufferable, worried that I may never feel well in the way I had been accustomed to again. 4 years later I am ok, you will be ok.
You are allowed to be angry, sad and/or frustrated. You have the right to feel the weight of it all. But I hope that once you are ready you will choose to give this journey a positive purpose. I hope that someday you will be there to tell the others that they will be ok too.
4 years later and I am in awe of how far I’ve come.
I’m in awe of how much this disease has taught me to love myself. I’m in awe of how healthy and incredible I feel most of the time. I’ve been very fortunate. But I fought for it. I worked with my doctors for it, I changed for it, I chose to embrace it.
It has been the most tumultuous, enlightening, unimaginable path. And there are still times when I stumble, there are still times when my health demands extra attention and care, and there are still times when I am sad, frustrated or afraid. But there are far more moments when I am overwhelmed with gratitude and joy for the person I have become and thankful for the experiences that allowed her to blossom. I look back at the last four years and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I am ok. You will be ok.
Health and love,
Thought of the day: “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us” Joseph Campbell