MY GRAVES' DISEASE STORY
When I had active Graves’ Disease, I had energy to spare. By the time I realized I had the disease, most of my symptoms were gone and, clinically, I only had a subclinical disorder. Subclinical hyperthyroidism is usually not treated since it typically resolves on its own. By the time of my diagnosis, the hypertension I was diagnosed with in my twenties had disappeared.
In retrospect, I realize that my symptoms peaked in my mid-twenties, after the birth of my children. Then, at 5'8" I weighed 115 lbs in spite of eating all the time. After being diagnosed with hypertension in my late twenties, I changed my lifestyle by quitting smoking and starting aerobics. By my late thirties, when I was diagnosed with Graves' disease, my blood pressure was normal and I weighed 135 lbs. I was in excellent health except for occasional problems with allergies.
I was inadvertently diagnosed with GD shortly before I turned 40 when my allergist noticed my thyroid was enlarged. Working in a hospital laboratory, I ran my own lab tests and discovered that I had a low TSH indicating subclinical hyperthyroidism. Despite having no worrisome symptoms, save some irritability and impulsiveness, I got caught up in the drama of having a disease.
In fact, I was living a dynamic life, working full-time, attending graduate school, raising a family, doing aerobics, and volunteering at a nursing home. Considering my mild symptoms, I should have waited before leaping into a more invasive treatment plan. However, the attention that accompanies a medical diagnosis prompted me to find a quick solution. Consequently, I rushed into having radioiodine ablation (RAI). Since RAI, I've never felt as good as before. I have severe hypothyroidism and pretibial myxedema. In addition, in 2007, an ultrasound showed a solitary nodule, which I'll need regular follow-ups for. I've since learned that nodules and adenomas are common occurrences in remaining thyroid tissue.
In retrospect, I likely had Graves' disease since early childhood. My predominant symptoms changed over time and I managed to keep them in line naturally without knowing what caused these symptoms. Up to a third of all GD patients go into spontaneous remission each year. I could have been one of them. ♦