Last week wasn’t a very good week.
In fact, it was an awful week, and there are yet more to come, as it take a long time to get off-the scale thyroid hormones under control again.
I’m a long way from control at present. A sudden sharp spike has hit seemingly related to this virus that still won’t go away. But what does that really mean?
This is what Grave’s disease is. Auto-immune over-stimulation of the thyroid gland causing the excess release of thyroid hormones (T3
). This causes a cascade of effects in the body including raised heart rate and blood pressure, raised adrenalin levels, racing metabolism and tremor. I can’t sleep, can’t think, am utterly exhausted and worst of all, have little control over my emotions. When you’re hyperthyric (thyrotoxic) you’re instantaneously thrown into a state of anxiety and depression.
It’s been 4 years now since I first got sick. I don’t talk about it much because I don’t like thinking of myself as sick, and because I don’t want it to be an excuse for apathy and lethargy. I don’t talk about it because people often don’t understand – I don’t look sick – and I’m worried people think I’m a hypochondriac, or that I’m being dramatic.
I take my little pink pills twice a day, and generally that’s it.
Three months ago I had radio-iodine treatment. I went to the nuclear medicine centre and was given a capsule full of radioactive material to swallow, and I thought that was that. Done, dusted, thyroid no more.
It worked so well. A few weeks afterwards I was feeling the best I’d felt in years. I had energy, stamina and focus, and I finally felt like I was getting my life back. The next blood test was perfect: T3
levels smack- bang within the normal range, and for the first time in years my body was producing Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. I was getting well!
I think that’s mostly why I missed the warning signs that I was getting sick again. I thought my thyroid couldn’t produce enough hormone to make me sick anymore, so when a little bit of depression crept in and I started having trouble sleeping I found other things to blame. After all, things weren’t going well at work and I was feeling pretty lonely.
Then everything escalated and I found myself having panic attacks in the middle of the night, feeling like a spring so tightly wound that the metal starts to crack.
So now I’m more heavily medicated. As well as the iodine uptake inhibitors (the pretty pink pills) I’m taking calcium blockers (the bright orange ones) to soothe the effects of too much adrenaline. Sleeping tablets mean I get at least a few hours of solid sleep a night, and now I’m feeling somewhat better; like I’m not about to crack. It’s just that I’m so very tired…
If I’d have noticed sooner, it wouldn’t have got so bad. Last week’s blood test shows levels in the red again, and not a trace of TSH. I don’t know why; no-one really understands what causes Grave’s disease or why the immune system suddenly ramps up its attacks. My specialist says to give it another 4 to 6 months for the radio-iodine to do all it’s going to, and then we see if I need another dose.
More blood tests, more medication, more missed work and more wondering if it’s ever going to end.