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My New Normal

My eyes will not be the same. That is a reality I have no choice but to accept. My eyes will not look the same, feel the same, be the same, as they were pre-thyroid eye disease (TED).

My body has been through a lot. My eyes have been to hell and back. There is a lot of acceptance that comes with being in a place in my life now that I had no control over. This is my new normal.

How I got here: The impact of thyroid eye disease on my eyes

My eye doctor calls it my new normal. It’s how he refers to my eyes now. They were not how they were pre-TED but they are not like they were when everything was up in the air. During my TED, my eyes were closed monitored, and measured every few months by my eye doctors. Tracking the progress, the good and the bad. The ups and the downs, and everything in between.

My eye doctor, who I have been seeing for over ten years, once told me, "your eyes are still settling into your new normal. They’re healing." My eyes will have scars from this disease for the rest of my life. Some I know about and others I will never see. Scars from how dry my eyes were show up on my cornea every year. I do not see them or feel them but they are there.

Where I am now

Everything in life is a process. Accepting this new normal is one thing, living it is a whole other thing. For a while, I wondered if this was too good to be true. Am I really out of the woods when it comes to pain? Am I truly all better? Surely one day I will wake up and my eyes will be all red and puffy again, right?

My self-doubt faded over time. I do not wonder about pain anymore. I know it is gone. The day-to-day pain is in my past. Whenever I have any pain that triggers big feelings, I remind myself that it’s temporary. This too shall pass. This is not a part of my new normal.

What is my new normal?

A wonky left upper eyelid and steady dry eye are all that linger from my major TED days. I don’t have any discomfort or swelling. The skin under my eyes is permanently puffy but I wear glasses so I do not focus on that at all. If I didn’t wear glasses, I think I would be more insecure about it. There’s nothing I can do to make the skin like before. Maybe surgery I could find a happy in-between but I don’t want to put my body through another thing, especially if it’s only for cosmetic reasons.

When I was going through TED, I never thought I would make it to this point. Everything seemed so far away and unreal. Being here now, I still feel how long those days were. Only now I know I made it through and I am on the other side of it. To my new normal and beyond.

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