As you may already know, I have been diagnosed with Graves’ Disease approximately a year ago. Graves’ Disease is an autoimmune disease. Normally, your immune system uses antibodies to help protect against viruses, bacteria and other foreign substances that invade your body. With Graves’ Disease, my body produces antibodies that attack its own tissues, leading to the deterioration and in some cases the destruction of such tissue. In the case of Graves’ Disease, it attacks the thyroid, which causes an illness called Hyperthyroidism.
This means that my thyroid is overactive resulting in a rapid heartbeat (100+ at rest), causes arrhythmia, palpitations, tremors, sweating, hair loss, hot flashes, fatigue, muscle weakness, difficulty sleeping, skin thinning, it affects the time of the month, increased appetite and increase metabolism (be aware that 20% of people gain weight instead of losing it).
Complications from Hyperthyroidism can cause heart problems, brittle bones (osteoporosis), eye problems, red, swollen skin, thyrotoxic crisis (thyroid storm).
It also causes anxiety and depression. It can also attack tissues behind the eyes and skin in our lower legs. So it is important to have it treated.
My thyroid is currently more than doubled in size. I also have hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules. This means that part of my thyroid gland walled itself off from the rest of the gland forming lumps.
Although there are several treatment options for the Hyperthyroidism, there is nothing they can do about Graves’ Disease as there is no cure. In my case, I will get radioactive iodine in June that is supposed to kill off my thyroid.
I have found over the last year that people struggle with the idea that an illness can be incurable. Most people seem to think that because you have a diagnosis and are being followed by a doctor that your illness will get better and be cured.
It isn’t easy to explain that the doctors are curing the illnesses cause by Graves’ Disease, not the Graves’ Disease itself. Then again, I’m not sure you can call it a cure if the solution to Hyperthyroidism is to kill/eliminate the thyroid and replace it with medication that you will need for the rest of your life.