Graves Disease - Tricia Simmons

I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease in 11th grade. I went in for a general sports physical to play school softball and the doctor felt my throat (thyroid) and said it felt swollen or enlarged. We didn’t think anything of it but the doctor recommended me to an endocrinologist just to make sure it wasn’t anything. I had an ultrasound on my thyroid and had hypothyroidism. Where your body isn’t producing enough for your thyroid. I don’t know all the medical talk. But I just know hypo is slow and hyper is fast. I had hypo and was real lethargic and gained weight. I then became hyper, the opposite. Rapid heart palpitations, very antsy and had tremors, lost a lot of weight. When you go back and forth between hypo and hyper, it’s Grave’s disease. I couldn’t finish the last couple games of my senior year of softball due to muscle degeneration. I was so sore and in pain until the medicines could get my levels right. I was very moody and had a lot going on hormone wise between Grave’s disease and puberty. Eeek! I’m now 29 and have dealt with it for 12 years. I’ve had the radioactive pill that cancer patience take to kill part of my thyroid so it can be managed and just jump around from hypo and hyper. It’s a disease that takes years and years to regulate. And then add in 2 pregnancies and dozens of dosage changes, it’s been a long road. But I’m finally on a decent level and a consistent dose. I now take a hormone pill the rest of my life to balance out the part of my thyroid that is dead. I go to the endocrinologist every 3-6 months. It’s a very hormonal and stressful disease because of course you can’t see it. My husband has been a trooper the last 10 years we have been together and has been very understanding of my moodiness, weight fluctuations that I can’t help, and my many doctors appointments and treatments. He also was a great coach during both pregnancies when I was told this disease has a high miscarriage rate. I’ve learned to be flexible and resilient because I never know what my levels or what state I will be in next year. Sometimes I can feel good and my levels are terrible. Sometimes I can feel bad and my levels are fine. You never know? I would say to others newly diagnosed or still struggling, keep faith in that you have been chosen for this disease for a reason. To be a trooper and story for others. To be an inspiration and wealth of knowledge to others. You have good days, months, years, and you have rough days, months, and years. But don’t let it stop you from living. You weren’t diagnosed with this disease to define you. It is just a minor part of you. Just as your hair color, your eye color, and so on. God made you this way for a reason because He knew you could handle it. All of it. So embrace it and live your life in the absolute best way you can as if you didn’t have it. I’ve never once said “I’m Tricia with Grave’s disease” when introducing myself. It’s not in my bio and a lot of people don’t know I have it. It’s not a secret. It’s just not what defines me. I will go down in history defeating this disease but most importantly as a child of God as a wife and mother of beautiful girls, along other amazing accomplishments! And you can too! I don’t want pity for my disease but I would love to help others and share my story to make someone else feel better and not alone.