If you follow me on Facebook, you have already heard bit and pieces of my story. By sharing my experiences and struggles I discovered there’s actually a lot of us in the same boat! When you’re going through something difficult it can often feel like you’re alone – like you’re the only person who’s ever had to deal with this thing. And then you open up about it and hear “me too” and it’s the most comforting thing in the world. So that’s why I share this: to let you know you’re not alone and to remind myself the same.
A lot of my story is a bit blurry because I wasn’t so sure what was happening or what was wrong with me. I was first diagnosed with Graves Disease in the 4th grade. I had gone to my general doctor for just a normal physical check up type visit and that’s when she discovered the goiter in my neck. I never even realized it was there until she pointed it out. It was just how my neck was. And then that moment I was told it’s not normal and it’s not healthy.
I still remember that room, the cold hands on my neck, the sinking feeling of being told something is wrong. Could they have named it anything more gentle? Like Flower Disease or Cotton Candy Disease? Like jeez: Graves Disease. I thought I was dying. Dramatic, yes. But what does a 4th grader know? Why me!? Why did something have to be wrong with me? Up until that point, I was a healthy, normal little girl. At least for all we knew…
From that point on, it was doctor visit after doctor visit. I started seeing a specialist to begin getting this under control and she was the sweetest little lady. Lots of blood work, lots of cold hands, lots of feeling and poking around my neck, holding out my hands to observe the common unsteadiness. I was scared. It was all unusual. This went on for many, many years.
I hate needles. But it was a huge part of the process, unfortunately. I was given numbing cream to rub on my inner elbow to try to ease the anxiety. Some times would be better than others. My mom always took me to my appointments, but for whatever reason, my dad had to take me to get blood drawn once. I think I get my uneasiness about needles from him because he didn’t do so well in the room. Of course this one special instance I had to get poked like 3 or 4 times; they just couldn’t find the vein and I was about ready to freak out and run outta there. I remember my dad standing in the corner making faces – not to make me laugh or feel better, but probably because he felt bad for me and bad for himself for witnessing it.
I remember another usual blood draw visit I was walking out to the car and all of a sudden I fainted and ran straight into a brick column outside the building. My mom must have had a heart attack, but I just remember coming back to once I was sitting in the car. We were leaving for Disney World a few days later, so it was fun to be rocking a huge scratch on my forehead… I had to get blood drawn the other day and I feel like all those years of drawing has made me a professional. But also makes me extra anxious every time I have to do it.
Apparently the blood work has been pretty traumatic for me; sorry to any of yall who hate even the thought of blood. Trying to figure out the right dosage levels was a joy all its own. The process went like this: Levels not where they need to be, assign new dosage, pick up samples at the endocrinologist or make sure the prescription gets sent to the right pharmacy and pick up there, blood work, and repeat. I wasn’t so sure what the level’s numbers meant, just was told normal or too high/low. I wanted so badly to be normal
You may be reading this and be in one of 3 places:
- You’re gone through a similar experience, thyroid or not
- You’re currently going through a similar experience
- You love someone who’s going through a similar experience
As I reflect back, I can’t express enough how much support meant. Family that would take me to all of my appointments, pick up my meds, talk to docs, ask questions (especially when I was too young to even understand what was going on), ask how I was feeling, etc. I was going through a difficult time for many years, but my family was going through it right along side me. Also, all the me toos. The ones sharing in the battle. The ones who understand all the difficulties- you are appreciated.
I want to tell you that although your results may not be “normal,” this is temporary. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Although you may feel alone and helpless at times, there are people that have gone before you. They are cheering you on. And there are people that are coming behind you. They’re about to face exactly what you’ve experienced. Use your experience as a light. You never know how much someone might need to hear that “me too.”