Thursday, May 26, 2011

There's an Upside to Everything

Over the past few months, I’ve posted quite a bit about my struggles with Graves’ Disease. What I haven’t had a chance to share yet is the story of life after the struggle. Why? Because I’ve been about doing things and enjoying life, feeling great! That’s right, after what seemed like an eternity of feeling miserable, I’ve finally come through feeling myself again.

This brings me to one of my biggest concerns before I went through treatment: I really thought I might not feel myself anymore. Or worse–maybe I wouldn’t be myself anymore. This probably sounds absurd, but for us hyperactive folks, it’s a big part of who we are. I have always been bouncy, energetic, and able to accomplish more in a day than many of my counterparts at work or at home. Treatment for Graves’ Disease set out to put an end to that–or so I thought.

But the truth was, I hadn’t been feeling myself for quite some time. It had been months and possibly years since I felt “normal”. I don’t know how the disease progresses over time, but as I think back, there were times were I can see some ebb and flow–where it’d get bad and then back off again and I’d feel almost right. By the time I received treatment in the form of radioactive iodine ablation (RAI), I’d say that I was about as far from feeling myself as I could get. (Though I’d rather not test that theory.)

So did RAI treatment change who I am? In terms of energy, no. The disease had slowed me done so much, that the treatment brought me back up to where I love to be. Yes, for a while I was a walking zombie. However, shortly after writing that article, I backed off the beta blockers (atenolol) the doctor had me on, and I did a complete reversal. It seemed that the drugs that had been making me normal for a while actually did the opposite once my thyroid had shrunk enough to produce less hormone to disrupt my system.

However, there is one major change. My other fear–which I imagine other hyperactives worry about–was that after enjoying years of eating as much of whatever I wanted and still maintaining a slim figure with or without exercise, I feared I’d quickly become obese. This fear, I assure you, is unfounded–at least in my experience. So what’s the major change? My appetite. It happened about two weeks after RAI treatment, and I swear, it was overnight. I went from consuming huge portions and constantly being hungry, to filling up on a couple of bites. (No joke.) Now at nine weeks after RAI, I eat about half the portion sizes I did before treatment. Could I gain weight? Yes. If I ate like I did before and continued not to exercise. Have I? No, because I’ve cut back and started exercising. (After not being able to do much for months, it feels fantastic to get my body moving again!)

While I surely would have preferred not to go through all of this (my wallet wishes I hadn’t too), it has had another very positive effect. Like many who’ve struggled through adversity, my experience with Graves’ Disease has changed my perspective on life and what’s important, and it’s given me even greater drive to achieve the goals I’ve set out for myself and do the things in life that make me happiest.

As they say, there’s an upside to everything.


  1. thank you very much for your blog. I am going through the decision-making process now and frankly, I am still in the "I'd rather die from a heart failure than become a depressed obese middle age woman", I try to stay open-minded. But my options are limited and the chineses herb/acupuncture treatment did not work. I dance, and I write and like you I cannot stand the fact opf living with a dead part of my body. I also fear the higher cancer risk aftr R131. Wish you all the luck and the best health in the world/ It is great to read that you are feeling good.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment, Oksana. I'm sorry I'm so slow about getting back to it. Life's been a roller coaster these past few months. I hope you are doing well now. Sometimes I still feel like I'm mourning the loss of my thyroid, but on days like today, where I really feel good, I only feel grateful to be feeling myself again.

    Best wishes,

    Amy Joy

  3. Hi Amy. Just stumbled upon your blog. I had RAI in January and am now taking a ride on the hypothyroid roller coaster. Started Synthroid only 8 days ago. Sure hope it helps with my utter lack of energy. Wouldn't hurt my feelings if it helps me to lose a few pounds, too! Thanks writing about your experiences. My doctor assured me that this was the best way to treat the Graves'. Hmm, wonder if he would still think that had he gone through it?! Hope you continue to heal and grow through your experience.

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      I'm glad you found your way here. I hope it helps provide some comfort. Those first few months were quite rough for me, but from what my doctor has said, I was an unusual case. I know that since I've started on Synthroid, I've felt much, much better. It did indeed give me more energy and I dropped weight as well. It took about two weeks before I noticed the effects though because Synthroid does have to build up in your system. So if you don't notice anything right away, don't worry; it will come. When it did, I felt better than I had in years--and I continue to now, a year later.

      Best wishes,

      Amy Joy