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Conquering Graves’ Disease

Graves' Disease
Graves’ Disease

Graves’ Disease is one of the many auto-immune diseases that did not exist 60 years ago. It was almost 10 years ago I was diagnosed with a hyper thyroid and Graves’.

This isn’t a blog to gain an email box full of “I’m sorry to hear this Brad” messages. No, sometimes, you just share information so if there is another person suffering maybe we can support one another.

In 2003, I received radiation treatment — radioactive iodine (RAI) — which resolved some symptoms, which included bulging eyes, rapid heart rate, a lump in my throat, dizziness, mood changes, weight loss, anxiety, insomnia and muscle weakness.

The autoimmune disease is considered rare and primarily affects women older than 20. It causes hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid produces too much of the hormones that control the body’s metabolism, which has a negative effect on heart rate as well as muscle and bone strength.

The disease – which resulted in my resting heart rate routinely climbing to 130 beats per minute and a blood pressure at 189/90 – went undetected for months.

Graves’ disease and hyperthyroidism share many of the same symptoms. These symptoms may include:
  • hand tremors
  • weight loss
  • intolerance to heat
  • fatigue
  • nervousness
  • irritability
  • muscle weakness
  • goiter (swelling in the thyroid gland)
  • diarrhea or increased frequency in bowel movements
  • difficulty sleeping

I lost 30 pounds of fat and all muscle and looked gaunt.

But after the radiation treatment, the thyroid was put to sleep, a daily replacement was put in place, I was able to gain some weight. After awhile, too much weight gain, to the tune of nearly 50 pounds, which is common in this case. I was now officially, hypothyroid.

However, since May, I have used an aggressive exercise and diet plan to drop 12 and become much stronger.

A friend I met years ago stated her symptoms:

Graves did all of the above to me & more: Sleep up to 18 hours some days,  constant stomach problems, migraines, tremors/shakiness, anxiety, sadness, weight loss, weight gain, join pain, cold sweats, irritability, sleeplessness, feelings of extreme loneliness, burning eyes to the point where I had to wear sunglasses at night,  dry skin, hair loss, need I say no more. It literally affected every step that I took in each day in my life that I suffered with Graves Disease.

Graves’ disease is a condition in which the immune system creates antibodies that can attack the thyroid gland and make it overactive. It is considered one of the family of autoimmune diseases, usually results in hyperthyroidism, and too much thyroid hormone is produced. That makes you really sick.

Interestingly, almost all of the auto-immune diseases are a result of our chemical-laden food, drinks, personal products and toxic environment.

Doctors I saw and then later visited with said stressful life events or illness may act as a trigger for the onset of Graves’ disease among people who are genetically susceptible.

The fact is, it has no cure and is up to ten times as common in females but researchers say it tends to be more severe in men.

When I was really sick and hyperthyroid, I noticed impaired neurological functions. While driving my leg wouldn’t respond as I attempted to step on the brake pedal. I always passed the football, shot the basketball and threw baseballs and softballs around my with kids and I was so messed up I couldn’t accurately hit a target from four feet away. I couldn’t write, my penmanship was awful because I had trembling hands and very little skill to control my weak muscles.

Physicians have shared with me to watch my kids. They have a very small chance as you do in getting Graves’ Disease.

The body amazes me. The immune system causes this condition. It sometimes sees some tissue of our body as an enemy and acts against it. In this case, the enemy is the thyroid gland. The antibodies that are created stimulate this gland to overproduce a hormone called thyroxin. As a result, symptoms of the disease occur.

Again, the illness is rare. However, it has been proven that the combination of heredity factors, sex, stress and age stimulate its creation.

We don’t often think about the overall health of our glands, but it made me do more research.

Former president George Bush and his wife, Barbara, both suffer from Graves’. Scientists said the odds of both having this disease might be one in 100,000 or as low as one in three million. presuming the disease was independently caused.

Marty Fledman used his bulging eyes, caused by Graves’, to good effect in his work as comedian.

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