Why I Don't Google My TED Symptoms
Google is great for a lot of things; Looking up restaurant reviews, finding directions to someplace new, and reading celebrity gossip. But it can also be an overwhelming tool when navigating a new diagnosis. Typing in symptoms of a disease I have wasn’t something I wanted to make a habit of. Google is not my doctor. It shows me a million different results that will overwhelm me. All it does is confirm my anxious thoughts and send me more down an anxious spiral than I need to be. One person’s experience with this disease is not my experience. I learned that it’s best not to go down a rabbit hole if I can help it.
I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s ten months before I developed thyroid eye disease (TED). Hashimoto’s is not often associated with TED, usually, it's Graves' disease. I was converting from one thyroid disease to the other with both antibodies in my system. A medical student who was examining my eyes called it converting. I felt like a science experiment when they said that.
If you google TED and Hashimoto’s, the search engine will always redirect you to Graves' disease. After my visit with an eye doctor before I was diagnosed with TED and Graves', I frantically googled TED and Hashimoto’s. The answers were always confusing. I didn’t know at the time exactly what I was experiencing or that going from one thyroid disease to another was even possible. I was sort of aware that my situation was unique but reading all about how you can’t have both at the same time wasn’t helpful.
Turning to other supports
So when google didn’t help me, I turned to one of my nurse friends. I am very fortunate to have two close friends in my life who are nurses. Whenever I have any medical questions, I go to them for advice and comfort. One of my nurse friends told me after my frantic google search that I have always been a patient with rare problems and that I just had to trust the process. At least I now had a word to describe how I was feeling. Her advice was comforting and I stopped googling my symptoms.
The moments when I had a question that felt silly to ask my nurse friends but it was too far out from my doctor’s appointment to wait for the answer, I entrusted someone in my life to do the googling for me. My mom gladly took the anxiety off my shoulders of falling down many Internet rabbit holes by doing the research for me. She could decipher what was useful and what wasn’t without the emotions I was experiencing. She really became my in-between person between me and google.
Avoiding googling thyroid eye disease helped me
Deciding to consciously avoid googling anything about TED during my journey probably saved me from feeling more anxiety than what I was already feeling. My body is my own and comparing my TED journey to anyone else’s would be unfair to me because someone else’s experience is not my experience. Reading comments in a Facebook group and reading medical forms about this disease would have created an unhealthy pattern. I was already too focused on it enough as it was. There was no need to add another external force to my pile of worries. I am glad I recognized that early on and stuck to that commitment over the years with this disease.
In addition to TED, I also have been diagnosed with: