Acceptance...oh, how I dreaded that word sometimes, but yet, to have acceptance of some aspects of our life can bring such peace. I am sure like many others, I seem to have the need to find joy and peace in what I have no power to change.

Thyroid eye disease (TED) has been right up there at there top of my list. Understandably, the active phase of TED dominated my life. Many of us in this community have discussed that all consuming stage when every day was all about our eyes. I remember trying to hush the constant murmuring in my mind during that phase. It was difficult to accept and live around the bulging eyes, the pain, the retracted eyelids, and trying to believe that these were not my forever eyes.

As I had stated in my past articles, my active phase lasted 3 years. This made it difficult for me to be a believer in any kind of normalcy after TED. But I made it. I consider myself very lucky that, after the surgeries to correct the damage TED left in it's path, my eyes look normal. In fact, I think I am the only one that can still see a subtle lasting change to my right eye.

Awareness and management of my conditions

I appreciate this phase of TED so much. Yet, I know that I have thyroid eye disease just as I know I have Graves' disease. Management has been the additive to my once easier life. I can ACCEPT that.

Graves' disease

For the Graves' disease I need to be aware of where my thyroid levels are. This means monitoring with labs and working with my endocrinologist as we bump the methimazole up or down. Maybe someday I won't have to take any thyroid medication but at this point I need it and I can accept that. Knowing that we monitor this closely, is better than waiting until I feel out of control.

Thyroid eye disease (TED)

Since I have had TED, I realize my eyes need extra attention (even in the inactive phase). My eyelids have a thicker texture than before and also a redder coloring. This seems to be a result of scar tissue from the various surgeries. I can live with this, and makeup covers it up nicely. There are still outside factors, such as sun, wind, ceiling fans, and white lights, that cause eye irritation, pain and dryness. Sunglasses will always be a part of my everyday wardrobe. I wear them just to stay ahead of the irritation.

The most drastic change is smoke! I can no longer sit around a campfire or at least not very close to one. After attempting to act like my pre-TED self and sitting around an evening campfire with family, I ended up with painfully dry eyes for a week that no amount of eye drops could relieve. Cigarette smoke is just as irritating. My husband and I went to Germany for a week, and unlike here, the smokers are everywhere! The effects on my eyes were difficult to tolerate. I know to keep my distance from people who smoke and designated smoking areas.

Acceptance of TED and Graves'

All of this has been a learning process and all of this is manageable. For me, knowing my limitations and managing them well helps me come to a place of acceptance.

I have Graves' disease and I have thyroid eye disease. I have found that management and acceptance go hand in hand. I can manage both diseases because I accept them and I can accept both diseases because I can manage them.

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