Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Graves' disease

After a couple months of badgering my weird primary doctor to do a complete work up of my blood he finally conceded... and then 24 hours later called me in a panic to tell me how wacky my hormone levels came back and sent me to an even wackier Endocrinologist (endo) in the middle of upstate New York. 

The endo (who received his MD from the University of Baghdad) sat me down to describe my levels and started asking me about other symptoms.

Heart racing: Yes. 
Anxiety: Yup-- but mostly associated that with moving to Manhattan
Insomnia: No, never have had that problem. I fall asleep the minute my head hits the pillow (or couch)
Excessive sweating: YES
Fatigue: all the time
Increased Appetite: is eating 6 bowls of cereal a day normal?
Weight loss: I wish, but maybe not enough to consider it a symptom 

Then he made me do the hand tremor test by resting a piece of paper on the back of my hand with my palm facing the floor, and it started to shake-- mostly  because the air conditioning was on full blast.

After the tremor test I followed his pen around the room with my eyes... then he got really close to my face and said "Just as I expected, your eyes are starting to bulge...and you're breathing like an obese pregnant woman."


Now that he got me good and scared he proceeded to tell me what exactly he suspected I had. The endo described Graves' as an autoimmune disease... "Like when an American soldier kills another American soldier in Afghanistan, it's out of confusion, your body is confused." (Thanks Dr. Baghdad!)

The blood results showed the Thyroid hormone level producing three times the normal amount, and an ultrasound of the thyroid showed it was double the average size. 
Now I knew why I was having so much anxiety and was so nervous about moving here!

Over the next few days I did a Radioactive Iodine uptake test. 

Basically you just swallow a dose of radioactive iodine pills and are tested at 6 hours and 24 hours (by a something that kind of looks like an x-ray machine) to see how much of the iodine tracer is absorbed by the thyroid gland. The results produced from this test reaffirm the blood test and give greater insight into what kind of treatment is needed. 

Graves' disease is typically caused by stress or postpartum after pregnancy. I never really feel stressed so I'm thinking it's the latter. Now I just need to get all my hormones with in normal range and I'll be feeling great and won't have a resting heart rate of 116.

At this point I don't want to take my thyroid out or radiate it to death because I don't want to take thyroid hormones for the rest of my life (and perhaps have another doctors opinion!) So we are trying another option of taking anti-thyroid medication everyday to try and shrink the size of the gland and to reduce production. That was all diagnosed the two days before we drove to New York City. I'm feeling great and I go back in 6 weeks for a follow up. 


Anonymous said...

This probably seems creepy because I'm a total stranger to you (I came across your blog on Lauren Evans' blog) but I was diagnosed with Graves' disease as well. I was told by my Endocrinologist there appears to be a genetic predisposition for Graves' disease. There is a lab test they can do to measure the levels on the antibody known to cause Graves'. I would recommend asking for this to be done because a negative result would indicate something else is causing your hyperthyroidism. It would confirm your existing diagnosis, but would also put to rest the possibility of any other underlying causes. I also had the Radioactive Iodine Ablation and the results were quick! I find it far easier to take my one pill a day of thyroid hormone (Synthroid) than I did to take the anti-thyroid medication (Methimazole) twice a day and the beta blocker to restore my heart rate to normal (Propranolol) three times a day. Just wanted to share my experiences! I know I was doing all kinds of reading on causes and treatments and so on when I was first diagnosed!

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Juliana said...

I have HYPOthyroidism. I cannot stress it enough (assuming they work similarly just opposite) but take your medecine every morning!! (or whenever they tell you to) BUT TAKE EVERY DOSE. If I miss just one I feel my symptoms. They also didn't tell me if I miss one in a period of 3 weeks it messes up your blood work and your levels will report as off. They changed my medecine 5 times after I had Blakeleigh and turns out I just needed to be what I was already on but I had missed one dose. So take it!! I am sorry you have it. Hypo has similar symptoms. It gets easier- I have had it for about 8 years.

Lana Dawn said...

Booo to having graves. But I'm glad you have some options on treatment - hope this medication works!

likeschocolate said...

Will keep you in my prayers Sarah! Have fun in New York!

Sara said...

Get a second opinion. I too was diagnosed with Graves, but later was diagnosed with hoshimoto thyroiditis.

I too, am delurking for this comment.;)

Stasia S. said...

I have nothing useful to add. Just that I'm hypo too...I guess if they end up having to kill your thyroid then you too could become hypo, but I hope you don't! Taking a pill everyday is not a big deal, but keeping weight off sucks.

Hurry up and get to Austin (we're not there yet) but I'm still dreaming of our reunion and being neighbors and cackling late into the night. :)

Jess said...

Boo. I am so sorry! I hope things continue to improve...love you and praying for you!

Lindsey Hicks said...

Can't a girl get a break?! I hope this treatment works.

Wilkerson Weekly said...

This has nothing to do with Grave's disease and is more a plea for you to look into Texas. The job market is great, you can live in a BIG house, and I will watch your kids for you when you are tired. Come to Houston!

Diane said...

I love you Sara. Dealing with an auto-immune disease is way hard!! Can't wait to spend time
on the beach with you in Florida. Hope you have a fantastic NYC summer.

Let the party begin... said...

I've just stumbled upon your blog and have been reading about your adventures. I too was diagnosed with Graves' disease and I was 21 at the time. Mine was so far gone, they told me that I would have died in 3 months had I not seen a doctor. It's been a roller coaster ride since then but definitely not the worse thing! Congratulations on your family's accomplishments both now and in the future!