Graves Disease and Me. Graves Disease mistaken as a Virus.

GRAVES DISEASE AND ME

Graves Disease in the space of a few days changed my body from being moderately well to feeling at death’s door.

The feeling of not being able to control your body is the worst thing imaginable. Imagine not having the energy to lift a pen or climb two steps.

THE DAY MY WORLD CHANGED

At the time I was an instrumental music teacher. I would visit numerous schools per week. Teaching children aged seven to sixteen years old.

On the day in question, I woke up feeling dreadful. But had to go to work.

You know those days when you’re totally exhausted but have no choice to go to work, as it feels like your life depends on it.

Well, it was one of those days.

The first school I was visiting had an important visitor wanting to meet me and the children. She wanted to thank us for a performance we did as part of a local university.

I dragged myself to work with my brain in a mental fog. Somehow, I managed to cope meeting our visitor.

As I had managed to cope with my first few hours of work I forced myself to go and teach at my second school.

THE REALISATION THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG

I take the usual car journey to the school, which involves some driving on the motorway.

The first 10 minutes of the drive feels OK.

Then, I remember not being able to feel the gas and brake pedals with ease whilst driving. My legs felt very heavy, it was like they were made of metal.

Despite the extreme heaviness in my legs, I arrive safely at the school.

I get the energy to walk from my car to the music room. I’m teaching my first class, a group of fifteen and sixteen year olds.

Minutes into the lesson, one of the students says “Miss, you don’t seem yourself today, why are you here, you need to go home”.

At this point I thought I was doing a pretty good job of concealing how I was feeling. But, obviously I wasn’t.

I took the advice of the young lady and somehow drive myself home.

I rested, and looked after my children who at the time were 4 months old and 18 months old.

At this point I believed I was just getting the flu. But, this was a level of flu never experienced before. Is this flu or something worse?

THE DREADED NEXT DAY

The next day I woke feeling extremely lethargic. I muster some energy and try to care for myself and my children.

But, I’m so weak. In fact, so weak that I’m unable to pick up my children. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t lift them. They felt like they weighed a tonne.

Imagine, not having the strength to lift a four-month old baby.

After feeling no improvement, I called my mom to ask her to help me. There was no way I could care for my children and my other half was at work.

This weakness continued throughout the morning.

MY FIRST VISIT FOR HELP FROM MY DOCTORS

Later that day I went to the doctor to explain how I was feeling. He said I looked well and that I was most likely suffering with a virus. He advised I get plenty of rest and take paracetamol.

I take the advice of my doctor. But, my symptoms seemed to only get worse, with new symptoms developing on a daily basis.

Over the course of a week my symptoms of weakness became worse. At this stage I’m now feeling very hot and when trying to rest I could hear my heartbeat. I was also shaking and feeling anxious for no apparent reason.

OFF TO A&E

Due to my symptoms becoming worse I went to A&E (Accident and Emergency). I saw a doctor who checked my blood pressure and temperature. He couldn’t find anything wrong with me. He said that I looked well and sent me home to continue to monitor my symptoms.

2ND VISIT TO THE DOCTOR

After approximately 2 weeks of going through all these symptoms, I visit my GP. Begging for him to help me. I explain I’m feeling worse and can’t continue in this way. At this point I’m struggling to walk. I have palpitations and a constant tremor. I can’t sleep. The muscle weakness is now extreme and I have blurred vision.

At last, he agrees that this is more than a virus and decides I should have blood tests to find out what’s going on.

THE DREADED PHONE CALL

I have my bloods taken.

And, 2 days later I get a dreaded phone call from my doctor’s receptionist.

They’ve received my blood results and I must book an appointment to discuss the results with my doctor. Urgently.

Due to the seriousness in her voice, I treat this extremely seriously and with urgency. I quickly arrange an appointment to see my doctor that evening.

THE DREADED DIAGNOSIS

Whilst waiting to see the doctor, my mind is racing, thinking the absolute worse.

I sit down with my doctor who explains I have a thyroid condition called ‘Graves Disease’ (GD).

He explains what it is, that I would have got this disease eventually and that there is no cure.

He scares me by saying that I am lucky to have had the diagnosis as if left any longer it would’ve killed me.

Suddenly, I start thinking the worse. Is this disease going to kill me. Will I be able to care for my children.

He explains that my thyroid levels are extremely high. And, I’m experiencing something called thyroid storm.

So much to take in. I’d never even heard of Graves Disease.

At this point my symptoms were:-

• loss of weight
• palpitations
• sweating
• hot flushes
• insomnia
• when able to sleep I would have terrible nightmares
• swelling of the neck (goitre)
• muscle weakness
• struggling to walk (walking a few steps was difficult)
• frequent bowel movement
• nausea
• constant hunger
• constant tremor

CONCLUSION

Don’t delay if you’re experiencing similar symptoms to me or suspect you have Graves Disease. Especially, if there’s a family history of Graves.

Graves disease without treatment is extremely dangerous.

The difficult thing with Graves Disease and hyperthyroidism is that it’s a slow burner.

WHAT IS HYPERTHYROIDISM

Hyperthyroidism is what causes the majority of the symptoms as the thyroid gland becomes hyper or overactive producing high levels of thyroid hormones. Graves Disease is the main cause of hyperthyroidism.

MY SYMPTOMS OF GRAVES DISEASE WERE PRESENT AND I WASN’T AWARE OF IT

For me, Graves Disease started with weight loss. It wasn’t noticeable to me but everyone else had noticed. People close to me were keen to let me know how great I looked. Especially as I’d only given birth 4 months before I was diagnosed.

Despite the weight loss, I felt fantastic. In fact, I was surprised by how much energy I had, I’d recently returned to part-time work and juggling being a mom to two babies.

Looking back, I can now see that the increase in energy was a symptom in itself. Hyperthyroidism speeds up everything in your body. Energy levels increase although you’re physically wiped out.

Maybe you’re struggling to gain weight, or experiencing extreme weight loss. Do you feel the need to eat constantly, never feeling full. You might notice a tremor in your hands and feel anxious. This is how it started for me. If this is you, it’s worth investigating the cause.

If you’ve already had a diagnosis of Graves Disease, are taking medications and struggling with your symptoms. You might benefit from looking at dietary support.

Related website: This website is very informative about using diet to support autoimmune thyroid conditions.

I’ve had huge success managing my Graves Disease symptoms. This has involved combining diet, yoga and relaxation to help with my symptoms.

Maybe this can help you too…

Related: PCOS and Me. My experience with PCOS and using diet and exercise to help

Images. Unsplash/rawpixel

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