Two eyeballs walk through a dark area, one eye is leading the other by the hand and pointing forward.

Being Seen

Recently, my sister had an eye infection. Her eyes were irritated in a way she had not experienced before. She felt overwhelmed and annoyed by how her eyes were taking her away from her day. Having had thyroid eye disease (TED) and irritated eyes for many years, I knew I could help her relieve some of the pain she was feeling.

My message to her

"Hey. Mom said your eyes still are not feeling great. I’m sorry. I highly recommend getting one of those eyes-masks ice pack things. You can freeze it or heat it up in the microwave. Try not to rub your eyes, it does not help. Wearing glasses adds a barrier between your eyes and fingers. Use drops when needed, using drops excessively is not as helpful as you think. Screens should be fine but listen to your eyes. If they are annoyed, turn down the brightness on your phone and computer. Dark mode is a little easier on the eyes. Take it easy."

Trial and error

I did not realize until I was messaging her suggestions to help with her eye problems just how much I had gathered from going through TED. A lot of what I found out about my eyes and how to help when they are irritated was through trial and error. Listening to my eyes when something helped and when it did not. Learning along the way through this disease has helped me now.

Occasional flare ups

Even though I no longer suffer from TED on a daily basis, I will sometimes have irritated eyes. This winter was especially brutal for my eyes. With the changing weather, my eyes have become very aware and sensitive to the back and forth of the dry climate I live in. It has been a dry cold winter that has caused havoc on my eyes in vulnerable moments. I know how to be patient with my eyes when they are irritated. I know it’s not going to last even when it feels like it will.

My sister’s response

"Thanks for the advice! I seriously don’t know how you lived with this swelling/eye pain for so long. Yeah, I’ve been having to wear my glasses nonstop since this started!...I’m sorry for not being kinder to you while you were going through that."

Being seen: Acknowledgement of my journey with thyroid eye disease

This made my day. Her response was everything I wish someone would have said to me when I was in the thick of this disease. The people in my life knew I was suffering, they did not know what to say or how to help. My sister respected what I was going through and sometimes listened when I needed to vent, but as siblings go, she did not stop treating me like a sibling.

On one hand, it is nice to not be treated like I was going through this monumental thing in my life. On the other hand, I am extremely grateful for her to acknowledge what I went through. I felt seen by someone who knows me in a way I had not been before.

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