My Experience of Graves' Disease Overtaking Hashimoto’s

While thyroid eye disease (TED) was controlling a lot of my life, at the same time, I was dealing with the onset of Graves' disease. I was diagnosed with TED and Graves' at the same time. I was put on Synthroid 8 months prior for Hashimoto’s and now I was dealing with a whole set of things I never knew existed.

The moment

While I have written about this in the past, this memory still sticks out in my mind. A couple of students’ shadowing the doctor I was seeing for the first time (and only time) came in to examine me before I met the doctor. They responded to my converting from Hashimoto’s to Graves' disease like I was a science experiment.

I understood they were in school, so their bedside manner was less than ideal. However, the moment they were realizing I was converting from one to the other, they reveled in the amazement of this revelation, the same one that was making my life a living hell, I stopped feeling. I realized my feelings at this moment did not matter and in order to get through it, I, as the patient, just had to go numb. The numbness lasted for longer than I realized.

Response to finding out that Graves' disease was overtaking my Hashimoto's

At the revelation of this news, my endocrinologist decided to change my dose of Synthroid to see if that would help things. Honestly, I do not remember most of this time because I was in fight or flight mode. I was very used to being in fight or flight mode because of my anxiety I had experienced up to this point in my life. So it was like slipping on an old familiar pair of shoes.

When the change of dosage did not do much, she decided to take me off it all together for a few months to see if that would help anything. Being off Synthroid, my levels went back into the range they were when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in the first place...dangerously and surprisingly high.

I was put back on Synthroid again while also monitoring my Graves' antibodies. They were hanging out in the background of all this, controlling all of these elements and creating madness in my life without fully committing to me. I felt like I was being pushed around by a bully I could not see.

The aftermath

Because I had no warning about TED when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (because the two typically do not go together), there was a lot of learning about both diseases at the same time. Knowing that Graves' is the opposite of Hashimoto’s was the most I knew.

Also understanding how my thyroid could appear in a Hashimoto’s phase with my lab levels while still having Grave’s antibodies present (but not active) is still to this day a lot to wrap my mind around.

The complexities of how the thyroid functions, and the signs of knowing which phase I am depending on, sudden dramatic changes in my weight, has become second nature in my life. The most normal thing in my day is taking my medication then waiting an hour before getting up to have coffee.

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