Tuesday, April 21, 2009

MY STORY(PART TWO): Graves' Disease and Hyperthyroidism

(I feel the need to back track and discuss my journey through illness in my quest to regain health. I have already discussed my diagnosis of Leaky Gut Syndrome. This post will discuss
my diagnosis of Graves' Disease and how it affected my thyroid. My next posts will continue where this one leaves off.)

Graves' Disease is an autoimmune disease. I was diagnosed with Graves' Disease in 2001. Graves' Disease triggered my body to produce too much thyroid hormone. Thus, I developed hyperthyroidism. Symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, shakiness, and rapid heart beat. Prior to being diagnosed with Graves' Disease, I had all of these symptoms and then some. Prior to being diagnosed with Graves' Disease, I was put on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines. Now, I know, a large part of my problems are/were not mental in nature but are/were due to the tiny thyroid gland functioning improperly.

My endrocrinologist (the doctor who deals with endocrine disorders) suggested that I have my thyroid basically detroyed with radioactive iodine. In retrospect, I wish I would have tried holistic approaches before taking such drastic measures.

Once the thyroid is destroyed by radioactive iodine therapy, the patient usually becomes hypothyroid (or develops an underactive thyroid). After a few short months, I became hypothyoid and was put on a medicine called Synthroid. This medicine has to be taken for life since the thyroid is a gland that affects almost every part of the body. Without this tiny gland functioning properly, you could die eventually.

I never did well on this medicine. I always experienced extreme anxiety and nervousness while on this medicine. I always felt better for a few days when I refused to take it. But, then I would have to take the medicine because I would start feeling extremely tired and have other disturbing symptoms. While on this medicine, I also always needed an antidepressant. The antidepressants worked. But, no anxiety medicine (and I was given many) ever worked.

Below is a link to a site that discusses Graves' Disease and Autoimmunity (pretty interesting):

Next: I will discuss my diagnosis of osteopenia ( a precursor to osteoporosis)


Ellen said...

Please, remember that Graves disease is actually an autoimmune disease, not a thyroid disease. The thyroid is only a victim under the attack of your body's immune system. In Grave's disease, many parts of the body can be attacked - anything with a TSH receptor, which includes eyes, skin, bone, your brain, etc. Many people with Graves actually go into remission within 2 yrs, but many more take a few extra years of anti-thyroid drug treatment. One anti-thyroid drug actually suppresses antibodies, but few doctors know this. RAI is seen as quick, easy, and cheap. Too bad for us...

Getting rid of your thyroid does NOT cure Graves. Having radiation can in fact make it much worse! So long as your body is making antibodies, you have Graves Disease, and those antibodies can do any number of things to you. Dystonia can be caused by Graves Disease...

Someday, someone will figure out a way to heal our immune systems. Until then, us Gravies do what we can to survive, learn from our experience and try to share with others so they can avoid the pitfalls we didn't. Thank you so much for sharing your story...


ChyvonneB said...


Once again thanks for the clarification. I have tried to adjust/correct my wording as not to confuse anyone.

Even with all of my reading, I knew that Graves' Disease could affect the eyes. But,I have never been clear on the other affects that can occur(although I suspected due to my continuous symptoms).

I have been dealing with Graves' disease since at least 2oo1. Sadly, the only physician who mentioned antibodies to me was an intern/resident who saw me a few months ago prior to my actual physician. And, she only mentioned it in terms of the associated eye disease that could occur. This is very unfortunate; because, many of us with Graves' Disease never feel right and never quite know why. Thanks.