"A letter to you from Graves’ Disease"
Hi. My name is Graves, and I'm an invisible autoimmune chronic disease that attacks your thyroid gland.
I am now velcroed to you for life.
Others around you can't see me or hear me, but YOUR body feels me.
I can attack you anywhere and anyhow I please.
I can cause severe pain or, if I'm in a good mood, I can just cause you to ache all over.
Remember when you and energy ran around together and had fun?
I took energy from you, and gave you exhaustion. Try to have fun now!
I can take good sleep from you and in its place, give you brain fog and lack of concentration.
I can make you want to sleep 24/7, and I can also cause insomnia.
I can make you tremble internally or make you feel cold or hot when everyone else feels normal.
I can also give you swollen hands and feet, swollen face and eyelids, swollen everything!
Oh, yeah, I can make you feel very anxious or very depressed, too. I can also cause other mental health problems.
I can make your hair fall out, become dry and brittle, cause acne, cause dry skin, the sky is the limit with me!
I can make you gain weight and no matter what you eat or how much you exercise, I can keep that weight on you. I can also make you loose weight. I don't discriminate.
Some of my other autoimmune disease friends often join me, giving you even more to deal with.
If you have something planned, or are looking forward to a great day, I can take that away from you. You didn't ask for me. I chose you for various reasons: That virus or viruses you had that you never really recovered from, or that car accident, or maybe it was the years of abuse and trauma (I thrive on stress.) Maybe you have a family history of me. Whatever the cause, I'm here to stay.
I hear you're going to see a doctor to try and get rid of me. That makes me laugh! Just try. You will have to go to many, many doctors until you find one who can help you effectively.
You will be put on the wrong thyroid meds for you, pain pills, sleeping pills, energy pills, told you are suffering from anxiety or depression, given anti-anxiety pills and antidepressants.
There are so many other ways I can make you sick and miserable, the list is endless - that high cholesterol, gall bladder issue, blood pressure issue, blood sugar issue, heart issue among others? That's probably me.
Can't get pregnant, or have had a miscarriage? That's probably me too.
Teeth and gum problems? TMJ? I told you the list was endless.
You may be given a TENs unit, get massaged, told if you just sleep and exercise properly I will go away.
You'll be told to think positively, you'll be poked, prodded, and MOST OF ALL, not taken seriously when you try to explain to the doctor how debilitating I am and how sick you really feel. In all probability you will get a referral from the 'understanding' (clueless) doctor, to see a psychiatrist.
Your family, friends and co-workers will all listen to you until they just get tired of hearing about how I make you feel, and just how debilitating I can be.
Some of them will say things like "Oh, you are just having a bad day" or "Well, remember, you can't do the things you use to do 20 YEARS ago", not hearing that you said 20 DAYS ago.
Some will start talking behind your back, they'll call you a hypochondriac, while you slowly feel that you are losing your dignity trying to make them understand, especially when you are in the middle of a conversation with a "normal" person, and can't remember what you were going to say next. You'll be told things like, "Oh, my grandmother had that, and she's fine on her thyroid pill" when you desperately want to explain that I don't impose myself upon everyone in the exact same way, and just because that grandmother is fine on the medication SHE'S taking, doesn't mean it will work for you.
I've been trying to keep this next part quiet, but since you're reading this you already know.
The only place you will get the kind of support and understanding in dealing with me, is with other people that have me. They are really the only ones who can truly understand.
I am Graves Disease.
Note: The double spaces between paragraphs are for people like me who suffer from TED. It's so difficult to read long sentences close together. My eyes water and bounce all over the page.