January is Thyroid Awareness Month, and this installment of my series on Graves’ disease is shared in support of the awareness campaign. The initiative is sponsored by The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
While I’m still taking medication (in small doses) for my Graves’ disease, my numbers are great. In my mind, this is “remission” and it feels pretty good.
As I’ve shared before, Graves’ disease is an odd health condition. While it can be fatal if left untreated, it’s vastly misunderstood. Most people who know about “thyroids gone wild” are familiar with hypothyroidism, which although problematic doesn’t typically come with as many short-term risks.
Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, but it’s far less common than hypothyroidism. Yet Graves comes with terms like “remission” and treatments that sound a lot like cancer (medication, radiation or surgery). Because it’s a lifelong illness, one can eventually try all of those treatments and even have to repeat one or two. Uncommon, a pain-in-the-neck, lifelong… yes, that sums up Graves’ disease rather neatly.
As fall rolled into winter in 2013, I was thinking about how to mark my year-long journey back to health. But how does one celebrate Graves’ disease remission exactly? I hadn’t a clue.
Well, in a curious turn of events, I wound up marking my return to wellness with, of all things, a commercial (and several still shots) for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio (or, the “Y,” as they are rebranding themselves). Crazy, right? The woman who had the classic “exercise intolerance” symptom of Graves’ disease got better (and got off of gluten, I might add), and ended up making a commercial about her gym?
Yet that’s exactly what I did. The end product? Earlier this month, I turned up on television, YouTube, and in my friends’ Facebook feeds.
This wasn’t my first time filming a commercial or being photographed. I’ve done things like this before, just not in a long time. This was, however, the first time that I cried during a shoot. Why? Because it felt like such great closure to an arduous year. Looking at the video and the photos, I can see the physical toll that the last couple of years have taken on me, but yet there I am–standing upright, laughing, talking (somewhat repetitiously), and looking healthy.
I share this story with y’all in part to help promote the value of the “Y” here in San Antonio. (Thanks to them for the “gift” of celebrating my health. And note that I was in no way compensated for this post. It’s my story, pure and simple.) I also want to share my experience because I know too many people–all women–who are struggling with Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s. It can be a lonely, frightening journey.
But good things–remarkable things, even–can indeed come of it, with time.