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Two people are standing in an elevator, one is behind a podium with an eyeball on it.

The Elevator Speech

When I was first diagnosed with thyroid eye disease (TED), I did not want to believe it. So, simply put, I just did not. In fact, I denied it. I denied it to myself, my family, my friends. Whenever someone would ask if I was ok, say "your eyes look a little red," "have you been crying?," or the plethora of other comments and questions, I found ways to respond that suited me at the time. "Must be allergies," was my favorite for a while.

Denying my diagnosis

I went about the business of trying to get a different diagnosis for my eyes. Not surprisingly, I started with allergy specialists. When they found nothing, I visited a multitude of ophthalmologists for various symptoms. Each path I took led me straight back to the original diagnosis. And if I have learned anything in the last couple of years, it is to find grace in the pivot. After another visit with the TED specialist, and acceptance of the original diagnosis, I took the opposite approach. Ok, so if I am going to have this, then I am going to learn all that I can, and find the best ways to deal with it.

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I quickly learned that I would need both emotional and physical support along the way. Like you, I was lucky enough to find Here, I have found the knowledge I was seeking, AND the support from the community I craved. That said, there is still the day-to-day, where I live, work, and play. The folks around me may still ask questions. As I reach for the 3rd tissue in as many minutes to dry the tears from the dryness, a co-worker asks, "Are your eyes ok? They do look a little red."

Developing my elevator speech for thyroid eye disease

This has prompted the need for a quick response. In the business world, they call it the elevator speech. A one to two-minute pitch for your latest and greatest idea, just in case you happen to be riding an elevator and the boss comes in. Now, as a teacher-librarian, I tend to be a rather wordy woman, so, I find I need a quick effective response to why I am wearing sunglasses indoors. I am just being honest here. It looks a little strange to those who do not understand my circumstances.

Here are my tips for a good elevator speech. Keep it short. For me, this is key. Next, explain the current situation and the accommodation being made. "I am very sensitive to light these days. I have been diagnosed with thyroid eye disease, and it helps if I wear my sunglasses while I work on my computer, read, etc." Lastly, start with a smile. This helps put the other person at ease and sends positive vibes to my brain.

Accepting and preparing

You will notice I am no longer denying this reality. I am fully conscious and aware of my situation. But, in my elevator speech, I am not giving the diagnosis, or this disease, any power beyond a minor inconvenience. Answering questions may become more common for me going forward. But as I try to stay positive, deal with the symptoms as they come and go, and live my regular life, I have spent some time thinking about elevator speeches. I try to have a couple in the back of my mind. And I am finding more and more that whenever I need to call one up, the most important step is curling the corners of my mouth into a smile before even uttering a word.

What do you do when someone asks about your TED symptoms? Click the button below to share with our community!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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