Today’s post is all about living with Graves disease, it is actually more common than I realise but people tend to not know what it is.
Graves‘ disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. With this disease, your immune system attacks the thyroid and causes it to make more thyroid hormone than your body needs. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck.
I was diagnosed with graves when I was 15 years old, I actually lived with it for ages and didn’t understand the symptoms, neither did my parents so it wasn’t caught early.
- Anxiety and irritability
- Tremor of hands
- Increased perspiration feeling overheated
- Weight loss/Weight gain even with normal eating habits
- Enlargement of Thyroid
- Change in menstrual cycle
- Reduced Libido
- Bulging eyes
- Frequent bowel movements
- Irregular or rapid heart rate
- Hair loss/Alopecia
I started waking up sweating with my hair stuck to my face, my heart rate was extremely high, I couldn’t carry a cup of tea or drink with out dropping it. I was very anxious all of the time, extremely self conscious about my weight and my hair.
Unfortunately my parents didn’t pick it up early and I was undiagnosed for about a year, I started to suffer really bad with it. I had no idea what was going on I kind of just put it down to puberty. I was at school at the time which made it even harder, I did get bullied over it. People were very nasty about my weight suddenly increasing and my hair falling out.
I also suffered with the bulging eyes (exophthalmos), that completely made me feel so self conscious. All the girls around me were wearing pretty makeup and looked lovely and I tried to grow a long fringe to cover my eye. I started to go into that gothic phase because I felt so down about it. Luckily I had a very close friend and she understood what I was going through as well as my parents.
I was put on medication to calm my heart rate and to get my thyroxine levels sorted, I absolutely loved my doctor. He was truly amazing and helped me through so much, after about 3 months I started to feel a lot better but I then hated my body even more because my weight was so high.
I was so fed up with being over weight I wanted to change. I started to only eat salads and nothing else. I starved myself so much that I was sick. It wasn’t a good thing to do, but its something thats happened and in the past.
Moving forward I had regular blood tests to check my levels of my thyroid and they wouldn’t settle, I then had to make a decision. Because my levels weren’t settling my doctor told me I either have to have surgery and remove my thyroid and take Levothyroxine for the rest of my life or have Radio iodine treatment and take Levothyroxine for the rest of my life. With the age that I was my parents thought it would be better for me to have the Radio iodine treatment, so I was sent of to do that.
In this time frame, my parents were divorcing and I moved up north with my dad so I had the treatment up here. It was basically me having to swallow a large pill and then I was radioactive for about 5 days. I had to stay away from everyone, I felt very isolated and alone but I knew it was going to help me in the long run.
Now because of my eye condition I had to take steroids, this was the worst part for me. They were called Prednisolone and they were absolutely horrendous. They made me gain even more weight and they made my face extremely puffy. My body did not agree with them at all. I had to come of them because they were causing me so many problems. I developed shingles because I was just so run down.
Then at my next appointment I was told about infertility and how my condition can affect me. I was pretty much told that I would really struggle to conceive and there are plenty of other options for me like IVF and Adoption. I was still quite young at the time and I wasn’t planning a pregnancy any time soon but it did upset me a little bit.
After a few months my levels were finally stabilising and I was starting to feel a bit worse to be honest. The doctor explained that I would now drop to hypothyroidism which is the complete opposite.
- Being cold all the time
- Weight gain
- Slow movements and thoughts
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Muscle cramps
- Dry and scaly skin
- Brittle hair and nails
- Loss of libido
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- irregular periods
These symptoms are bang on but its the way it makes you feel in your self mentally as well that is so important. I was so young and lost so much confidence. I don’t know what is worse Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism. I can certainly say to this day I struggle with most of the above.
How has it affected my life
I’m not going to lie it did affect me bad, like any illness would. At the time I lost my nan to cancer too so It was not a good time for me. We are so powerful and strong that we get through it no matter what life throws at us.
However though I don’t let it affect me now, yes I still have bad days don’t we all, I met a few guys in the past that didn’t understand my condition and didn’t see it as what it was and they weren’t right for me. It did affect my friendships and relationships and ability to conceive but I always thought there is someone out there that is worse of and this is something that I can manage with life long medication.
Now I am 7 months pregnant expecting my first baby girl with my amazing fiancé that understands everything. He is so supportive and I look down at my belly sometimes and think wow this is a miracle. My body just needed time to get my levels corrected and now look Im pregnant!
The pregnancy has been very complicated because of my condition but honestly everyone has their own complications in pregnancy, it doesn’t seem easy for anyone. My worry is about it passing over to my baby girl and unfortunately it might do but I am creating this life inside of me that is going to have a mummy and daddy that will look out for the symptoms and she will be checked as soon as she is born. So I know she won’t have to go through what I did because mine was picked up late.
There are so many medications and treatments out there for this condition and I know exactly what to look out for.
I am so grateful for my Pedetrician that helped me through the really dark stages, he came into my work once and said you look amazing! Doctors are very powerful people and I will never forget how amazing he was.
If any of you are reading this that has been diagnosed with Graves or Thyroid problems please know it does get better with time. I never thought five years later I would be a Youtuber and Blogger with a baby on the way and happy in a long term relationship.
Even if this helps one person out there, that will make me happy.
Until next time