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Reassessment, But Never Retreat

Post Published: 01 April 2010
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Category: Dear Thyroid Letters
This post currently has 20 responses. Leave a comment

(Written by Jennifer, patient with Graves’ disease and Graves’ Opthalmopathy)

Dear Thyroid,

As I type, my peripheral vision keeps getting distracted by the bruise on my arm. It’s no longer so purple but yellow and brown. It creeps down from the elbow line about an inch. It’s a visual reminder that you get checked. A lot. Well, it seems like a lot. Sometimes it’s every two months, but this last time it was after six weeks. You see, you’re sick. You’re being attacked by an autoimmune disease called Grave’s. This disease doesn’t like you much. It wants to over-activate you, so you rebel. And six weeks ago, I discovered that you had been rebelling mightily for about two months. Instead of your levels aligning so that I could continue to decrease the blocker I take to keep you in line. I had to raise it. This means that you became even slower, but I felt better. Because being in grad school, that T3 number is really important. When you allow it to go high, I can’t learn or study. I can’t write papers. It takes me two weeks to figure out a philosophical idea. I’m smarter than that!

I was talking about you to a professor today. Were your ears ringing? I was telling her what happened last June, when I was writing a paper for her class. When I had to email her to say, “this is going to be late, I’m getting diagnosed with something, but I don’t know what, she was great. And she was still understanding today. I told her that when I found out you were sick, it was all about getting some quick treatment and moving on. I had plans to go study in Israel, and you weren’t going to stop me. I did go and we can write a different letter about that experience. But as I told her, since it was all so quick, when I came home and returned to school I began to think. I began to read. And as I processed the situation that I was now in, I realized that you were forcing me to reassess. Because of you, I realized that I wanted to be a rabbi, not an academic. But, also, because of you, I don’t know how much activity I can handle. I have high expectations of my stamina. Ask my parents, well you may remember too, but I have been on the go since I was a baby. Always out ahead of the pack. Always achieving and striving for more. I was the ultimate multi-tasker: organized and energized. I thought I could do anything, even if it was hard for me. I knew how to climb intellectual and logistical mountains. I hiked and worked out without thought. Now, at 28, I know that if I have a full day of classes and events or whatever, that I will be exhausted that night AND the next day. I know that if I don’t relax the next day, I will be nearly non-functioning by the day after. I make these plans, plans of accomplishments. And every day, I fall short.

I resent having to reassess myself in this way. Because you are slowing my dreams down and narrowing my world. I know that I will end up getting stuff done. The stuff that my dreams are made of. But I resent you, thyroid. I resent having an autoimmune disease that drives you crazy, forcing you to sap my energy, make my nails crack and chip, and my skin dry. I resent how you make my heart beat hard and fast. And that you remind me daily what tired feels like in my head.

Dear Thyroid, I promise to support you. I do already! I’m eating dairy and gluten-free food. I’m taking my supplements. I’m walking everyday and trying to do more low-impact exercise each week. But you need to do your part too. Fight back against the crazy! Say good bye to the autoimmune disease. Go into remission!

Yours always,

Jennifer

Bio: Jennifer is closing in on the end of her M.A. in religious studies, graduating in June. Diagnosed with Grave’s Disease in June 2009, she hopes to gain remission by the end of 2010 (you can do it!). Jennifer is passionate about reading, writing, friendships, and coffee shops (both the coffee and the company). Jennifer can be found at www.phranklyphred.wordpress.com and PhranklyPhred on Twitter.

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20 Responses to “Reassessment, But Never Retreat”

  1. Lori says:

    Great letter Jennifer. It’s so hard when you do everything right that you can and your thyroid still won’t cooperate, like an unruly toddler. Good luck in 2010!!

  2. Dear Thyroid says:

    “like an unruly toddler” – Ha. Great analogy of our thyroid’s behavior.

    Thanks for supporting Jennifer.

    xo

  3. Christine says:

    Jennifer

    First, I wish every dream you dream becomes your reality on your terms. The world becomes less narrow and open – wide open for you to embrace all it has to show you. I admire that you are pressing on, pressing through, finding that inner strength that cannot be denied.

    “I resent having to reassess myself in this way. Because you are slowing my dreams down and narrowing my world.”

    Well said!! resent,Resent, RESENT! I believe this is how most of us feel…. What we knew ourselves to be, ALL that we were and to lose that or have to redefine it because of the slowing of our lives (sometimes to a trickle), of our dreams (when we can remember them), the narrowing of our world (when sometimes all you know is how you are feeling or not feeling, tunnel vision of the thyroid sorts) all of this dictated by our condition/disease.
    There is nothing that should have that power…. slowing of dreams and narrowing of our world…. NOTHING!

    Yes, you will “end up getting stuff done. The stuff that my dreams are made of.”
    You will RALLY against this, you will find remission and make your life the stuff of your dreams and then the world will be a WIDE OPEN place for you to make your own, to leave your footprint, your mark – and we all will be better for it.

    Yes, today I feel a simmering resentment as much as I don’t want to feel this way, I do! DAMN It! I do! However, I refuse to lose anything more of myself to my thyroid disease, I am fighting this. I’m digging my heels in and screaming NO! This is our day, my day! We, I have dreams that are meant to be realized, the world is wide open for each of us to embrace. I’ll take your hand if you take mine and together we’ll reclaim what is meant to be ours; a life of possibilities, dreams, health, sanity, love and laughter.

  4. Jennifer,

    I don’t have Graves’, so I don’t know what you’re going through, but I do understand you when you say, “I make these plans, plans of accomplishments. And every day, I fall short.” My thyroid has slowed me down, too. I’m also in grad school and was used to being good at the whole school thing. I used to be able to pound out a paper in no time. Now, like you, it takes me so much longer to get things done.

    I love your letter and appreciate where you’re coming from. I truly hope you will be in remission by the end of this year!

    xo,
    Joanna

  5. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much! I really appreciate the comments of support. And it is so annoying to fall short of expectations on a daily basis.

    thanks!
    Jennifer

  6. Jenn says:

    Jennifer –
    I am currently going through the “diagnosis process” and your letter hit me like no other that I have read before. Other than the fact that my thyroid is underactive instead of overactive, that letter could have been written by me. I am sitting at my desk at work and crying like a baby after reading your letter. I too have always been “on the go”….it is so hard to accept the restrictions that my thyroid is placing on me. RESENT is a great word – and I feel as you do. I resent the hell out of my thyroid. Ironic that it is shaped like a butterfly isn’t it?
    Thank you for your letter. Thank you for your courage and your “can do” attitude. It’s just what I needed to pull me out of this “all hope is lost” funk that I have been in recently. I will look back on your letter when I need encouragement. The most helpful thing I’ve found so far is this forum and knowing that I am not alone in this. Here’s to you going into remission – SOON! Keep up the positive attitude.
    Jenn

  7. Dear Thyroid says:

    Christine –

    Yes, today I feel a simmering resentment as much as I don’t want to feel this way, I do! DAMN It! I do! However, I refuse to lose anything more of myself to my thyroid disease, I am fighting this. I’m digging my heels in and screaming NO! This is our day, my day! We, I have dreams that are meant to be realized, the world is wide open for each of us to embrace. I’ll take your hand if you take mine and together we’ll reclaim what is meant to be ours; a life of possibilities, dreams, health, sanity, love and laughter.

    I COULDN’T ADORE YOU ANY MORE THAN I DO RIGHT NOW. You’re so right. Every day we have to fight and remind ourselves that today is ours to embrace. If we have each other, we aren’t alone. We can scream, rant, rage and move forward positively; feeling like anything is possible.

    BRAVO. ON MY KNEES CLAPPING. CLAP. CLAP. CLAP.

  8. Dear Thyroid says:

    Joanna –

    “I make these plans, plans of accomplishments. And every day, I fall short…

    Though I’m not in grad school and don’t know what that’s like for you and Jennifer to deal with; feeling like I/we fall short on an ongoing basis, is obscenely frustrating.

    Great show of support!

    xo

  9. Sara Broers says:

    Looks like you are doing everything you can~ I wish you the best and keep on doing what you need to do!

  10. Dear Thyroid says:

    Jennifer; Thank you for joining the conversation and being the impetus for it with your beautiful letter.

    Thank you for sharing so much of you with all of us.

    xo

  11. Dear Thyroid says:

    Though many of us feel like we fall short; I wonder, how do we remind ourselves that we don’t? How do we reinvent ourselves and revise our expectations, so we can still soar to great heights and achieve our dreams?

  12. Dear Thyroid says:

    Jenn – So sorry to hear that you’re on the other end of hell. Feelings of resentment are so normal and par the course. Allowing ourselves to feel resentment, and grieving, mourning the loss of our former selves, is so important. I almost wonder if it’s as much a part of the healing process as taking our meds, changing our diets and lifestyles; do you know what I mean?

    Hang in, thysistah! You are not alone.

    xo

  13. Dear Thyroid says:

    Great show of support, Sara, thank you!

    xo

  14. Shan Kelly says:

    Hi from another Graves patient who, like you, is a former overachiever taking blocking meds. I was diagnosed in 2007 and became underactive briefly after the first six months of carbimazole and beta blockers. Then I began reducing,with few ill effects until I was very near remission. When I went to 5mg a day, I became overactive again last April. So this is my second year of reducing meds, since I was first diagnosed as very hyperactive. This time though, I’m staying at 10mg over the summer and I’ve been in the normal range now for months. I find that good diet, gentle but regular excercise, yoga, swimming, pilates and walking really helps me, and getting lots of sleep is really crucial too.
    Don’t give up, you will be able to find a new normal that works for you. I think the key is to take it as slow as you can, which is hard for poeple like us. But really, So what if we have to take a little extra meds to be stable and retain our mental focus? I’m sure you actually achieve lots and that you don’t need to beat yourself up about a few extra things you’d like to have done.
    Lowering your expectations just a little might make you feel a whole lot better. So,Every day, prioritise ruthlessly – Pick one thing that is the most important for that day and do it the best you can. The smaller the better.:) Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can.And.Remember you have a right to be here. And you wrote a great letter.
    Stay strong, you are getting there.

  15. Dear Thyroid says:

    Shan;

    Your points and advice, are spot on. I love what you wrote, especially this part So,Every day, prioritise ruthlessly — Pick one thing that is the most important for that day and do it the best you can. The smaller the better.:) Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can.And.Remember you have a right to be here.

    You are so right! The changes you’ve made in your life, across the board, have helped you to feel good once again? You’re reclaiming your life, just differently?

    Great show of support – Love it!

    xo

  16. Lori says:

    This disease brings MAJOR change to our lives, as we once knew it, so I think we have to give ourselves a break and not beat ourselves up when we can’t live up to our old expectations. Maybe the shape of our thyroid, the butterfly, is truly what it should be because whether it’s taken out or stays in, it morphs us, like the butterfly, into a new person and I think ultimately a much stronger version of our old selves, even if we can’t see it yet. I wish we didn’t have to go through this but it’s a process we do not have to go through alone! We are all here to support you and each other.

    Your letter is beautiful Jennifer. You are obviously a strong woman and you will come out on top, we all will!

    {{Hugs}}

  17. Dear Thyroid says:

    Lori – Your comment gave me the chills. While I HATE butterflies. You’ve given me a new perspective on butterflies – It’s ironic, really. We do morph into strangers. I guess the onus rests with us to re-morph ourselves into someone we can love and appreciate again. As you said, it’s a process.

    Love your comment and support.

    xo

  18. I loved your letter, Jennifer. It was inspiring and made me cry. I’m too tired right now to write more, but I am so glad that it has triggered such a great discussion. I truly hope that your autoimmune disease does go into remission!

  19. Jennifer says:

    Dear everybody,
    Thank you for all your comments. It made me smile so big to read them. You are all so inspiring yourselves, and encourage me to keep chugging along (even if remission is not in the cards and, of course, it doesn’t usually stay for long). I appreciate all your comments and suggestions. I do need to prioritize ruthlessly!

    You are all amazing!
    Thanks again!
    Jennifer

  20. […] I wrote a letter to my thyroid in February and it was published yesterday on Dearthyroid.org. Click here to see the letter in its home, with comments. The comments just made me smile. It felt so good to […]

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