A woman lies on the floor, embracing herself, with a thought bubble of a surgeon on her mind.

Why I Didn't Get Surgery

Everyone's journey with thyroid eye disease (TED) is uniquely their own. For me, I never thought of surgery as a possibility of being part of my journey. Maybe I am stubborn or strong-willed but I did not even want to consider the possibility of surgery unless I absolutely had to. Every time my TED doctor would mention surgery as a possibility down the road, I would note it and then quickly discard it from my mind.

Sensitive eyes

TED made my eyes very sensitive. They felt so delicate and fragile. The idea of having surgery on them to help correct any of the TED was too overwhelming for me to consider. I wanted to protect them the way I had been when my life got flipped upside down with this disease. The thought of surgery for cosmetic purposes, especially if my symptoms had improved, seemed unnecessary.

The way my eyes changed

The biggest reason why I did not need eye surgery is because of the way my eyes changed when I developed TED. My eyes did not have a significant amount of bulging. My lower eyelids never retracted. The swelling around my eyes made the skin around my eyes puffy but not extremely noticeable. My eyes had certainly changed and the people around me could notice the difference but the average person walking by me would not be able to tell something was wrong.

Scared of surgery for my thyroid eye disease

I am not going to lie, I do not like surgery. I don’t do well with surgery. I have had jaw surgery before and it was tough. I am glad I did it but I would not do it again knowing what I know now. My body doesn’t react well to being put under. Complications somehow arise that no one considered, even when I have the best doctors. I have COPD and my lungs don’t do well with a breathing tube. My long medical history made me very weary of considering surgery for my eyes.

Hearing other peoples' stories

Whenever I hear people tell their stories about having surgery for TED, I really only pay attention to the negative. Maybe because there has not been a lot of time between when the person had the surgery and when I am hearing it or maybe as humans, we choose to share the negative parts of our experience because that’s the part we remember more clearly. With every story I hear, I always tell myself, See? Aren’t you glad you didn’t choose to experience that?

Where my eyes are now

My eyes have slowly improved with time. They are not perfect or like they were pre-TED but they are better than they were when I was having all my symptoms. The skin under both my eyes still remains a little puffy even though the swelling has been gone for a while now. My right upper eyelid is no longer retracted while my left upper eyelid is slowly making its way down. My eyes no longer bulge out like they used to.

While my eyes no longer feel vulnerable or sensitive, I take pride in what I have experienced with TED. My eyes went through hell and back to be where they are now is a victory in itself.

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