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Graves Becomes HIM

Post Published: 03 July 2009
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Category: Dear Thyroid Letters
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Dear Thyroid,

I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease at age 52.   I’m entirely clear that not treating it would have been a big mistake.   But I’ve never been quite the same, and I don’t know if it’s fallout from the treatment or something else.

Reading the Dear thyroid posts I guess I really lucked out. Things didn’t go so bad with you. A few years ago the doctor said my blood pressure was high, and said first try improved diet and exercise.   Which seemed to work, but then it went up again.   While discussing this with him I mentioned that I had a lot of energy and didn’t need much sleep, and was feeling unusually good.   So he checked my thyroid and it was high, so off I went to a very busy endocrinologist who saw me three months later.

Since my symptoms weren’t that bad yet, he did a lot of tests.   I’d say this was a good thing, given I wasn’t that bad.   However several months later, my Graves’ had progressed to where it was no longer a case of feeling good without sleeping.   Life became organized around bowel movements and I began to have a lot of anxiety while losing weight on an hourly basis.   Along came the miracle of I131.

Well something didn’t get adequately explained to me and I postponed my second post I131 blood test.   By the time I wandered into my endocrinologist’s office, he took one look at me and asked why I hadn’t called him since I obviously must be feeling pretty terrible.   Which I was, feeling terrible.   I was turning into someone I didn’t recognize, someone who hurt all the time, everywhere.   Someone who screamed insanely at the kids when I could find the energy to do so, someone who would go outside expecting the thermometer to say it was below zero only to see that the stream behind our house was frozen solid and the thermometer would read a totally preposterous 30 degrees, and the stream would be gurgling happily.   All I could do was sit by the fire and eat peanut butter.   You see the rest of my body thought with just a little more of the food that kept body and soul together when I was hyperthyroid, that it might find the energy to do something.   But you wouldn’t listen.   You couldn’t, since the I131 had killed you.   Sometimes I feel bad about that, I really do.   Killing part of my body with a medicine that the nurse told me not to remove from the bottle till he had left the room…. But, it was better than what you were going to do to me. And you gave me a nice vacation.   My wife said that she wasn’t going to clean up radioactive pee off the floor when I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and sent me off to a nice little cabin in the woods for a few days.

Well, as I said, the doctor took one look at me and yelled at me for not being more assertive about how terrible I must be feeling.   He then proceeded to worry about over medicating me with the result that I was under medicated for about 6 months, although not terribly so.   I suppose he was being cautious….usually a good thing in a doctor I suppose.

To give him his proper’s it was his secretary who kept telling me that he was too busy.   One day, as I was arguing with her over my follow up appointment, he overheard and came out and told her to schedule me for his lunch break, to which she reluctantly agreed.   I do in fact believe that he was just over worked.

Eventually I switched endos and she agreed with the first one, that I shouldn’t blame the thyroid for everything.   In general, I like her, too.   She did a slew of other tests and said that basically the problem isn’t my thyroid but osteoarthritis in my knees which seems to have a ripple effect.   But….

Things have never been the same since the I131. ,  I think it’s just a case of a pill not working as well as my own thyroid did (when it worked). I tried the T3, which made me spacey and I hated it.   Based on that, I decided not to bother with the Armour.   She was happy to prescribe it, just like she recommended the T3, but said she thought most of her patients who like the Armour, just like the T3 buzz.   Who knows?

So, I don’t need to write hate letters to my thyroid, although I wish I could feel the way I was when I was 25 years younger.   Don’t we all?,   But I read the “I hate you, thyroid” stuff and reacted viscerally.   And I’m going to vent about your buddy, osteoarthritis because that’s how I feel about your evil friend.   My hobby used to be mountain climbing.   Now in my mid 50’s, I go to the gym and I can walk around the block most days. I think about it all the time, especially when it doesn’t hurt, because then I have to remember a million things NOT to do in order to keep it from hurting. I read my daughters fashion magazines and they will talk about which body part you dislike the most.   A total no brainer for me.   I hate my knee with a deep undying passion.   I hate it as much as some of the folks here hate their thyroid gland.   In a few years I’m going to get a new one, but the doctor says to wait.   I figure when the surgeon says don’t operate, I should listen, but I hate this. My typing fails me, trying to say just how much I hate it. And even with new knee, the days of 40 lb packs and 4 day hikes are over.   So are the kill or be killed bad mitten games I used to have with my daughters, and a whole slew of other things. Same feelings, different disease.   A little piece of a torn meniscus changed my life as profoundly as almost anything else that has happened to me.

Zari —,

(Bio) I’m a 56 year old man who had a relatively uneventful life, medically speaking, until about age 50.   I do have a serious drug problem, namely alcoholism, but I was fortunate enough to get sober in my late 20’s and stay that way with the help of a 12 step program.   Got married, had kids, life went pretty well. I was always very physical, lots of hiking camping, used to run 6 miles a day and so on. Truth is, my life is pretty good.   Probably my real problem is not the thyroid or the arthritis, but the general alcoholic personality that will find a resentment and cause for self pity in a heartbeat, which doesn’t negate the fact that these medical problems were in fact draining.

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5 Responses to “Graves Becomes HIM”

  1. Cyndi Woodruff says:

    Wow…..such an honest and moving letter. I am actually speechless (I know, I know…a miracle, right?)….Thank you for being so honest, Zari. It’s nice to hear from the opposite sex on this subject. I look forward to hearing from more of the men who have been affected/afflicted with this dis-ease.

  2. Kathy says:

    Zari, thanks for your honesty. It must feel so frustrating, not being able to do the things that have always brought joy and quality to your life. My husband climbed a mountain every day for five years, til both of his knees went downhill. The doctors called him the ‘fugitive from arthroscopy’. At 58, he had both knees replaced and does everything except kneel. The mountain climbing..it’s slower, and not as often, but he manages. Thanks for sharing all your thoughts; that must have taken a 4o lb pack off your shoulders. I hate whining and dwelling in the miserable-ness of it all, but writing here got me pissed off enough to start taking control of what I can. Go whack a few of those birdies, and pretend they’re your knee or your thyroid! GRRR!!

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