When were you diagnosed and how were you impacted?
I was diagnosed with GRAVES’ Disease “officially” April 15, 2019. I say “officially” because of the back-and-forth, in-&-out of doctors’ offices were exhausting prior to my official diagnosis. I was impacted greatly as fitness has always been a part of my life since age 9. For a living I am very physical; I’m a certified personal trainer and a neuro-ophthalmology technician. Constantly on my feet, moving around (sometimes even running), with not much time to relax/sit. Due to my Hyperthyroidism – my heart rate was through the roof, resting heart rate got as high as 150 BPM, had to go to the ER and was put on bed rest for several days. Loss all the hard-earned muscle mass I gained, loss close to 15 pounds, had NO strength to talk, let alone walk. I felt very outside of myself. At the time I did not know I was depressed, I never in life had experienced such sadness before my diagnosis, and since I could not be as active as I have been most my life, it put me in such a funk. I was not sure I would ever get to where I am now – back to my energetic and happy self!
o How did/has your life changed?
Due to me being so active years before my official diagnosis, I struggled adjusting to my new “norm”. It’s more of an adjustment internally than external. I can no longer tolerate dairy; the volume of my hair fluctuates quite frequently, and I still have heart palpations more times than I care to admit. I am a spiritual person and although my faith was tested tremendously, I knew God would never put any obstacle in my path that I could not overcome.
o What inspires you to thrive regardless of your diagnosis?
LIFE! Life inspires me. Honestly, since becoming so vocal about my diagnosis and (in the beginning unintentionally) bringing awareness to this disease, my family, friends, and newfound followers are my inspirations – them and LIFE! I am so thankful my illness no longer debilitates me and the fact that I still have my faith, my family and a second chance – I will continue to THRIVE!
o What are you grateful for?
My family and my resiliency. Mental strength is so important, I am grateful that I can recognize my sadness, my weaknesses and not let them overpower me into caving or shying away from progress.
o What is your message to other warriors and the world?
KEEP POSITIVE! KEEP RESEARCHING! KEEP FAITH! Autoimmune diseases fluctuate person to person, but I am sure I speak for all of us when I say – they are unpredictable. One day we are lively and the next we are feeling ran down and hopeless. We are human, we will not always feel positive, but having faith, journaling your symptoms (especially the “bad” days) and then researching ways to improve them/yourself is helpful! NEVER STOP LEARNING ABOUT YOUR DIAGNOSIS. Science is always changing.