Hey friends! Recently, I’ve found that my health journey is unknown to many– but I want to be able to encourage others with this journey– and that takes sharing this story! I know there are lots of people out there (maybe that’s you!) that struggle with health issues or disease, and there is usually a lot of pain and depression in that– and I know how that feels. But you are not alone.
To begin with a little backstory, before I was diagnosed with this disease, I had NEVER had any health issues before. I didn’t have to take any medication, I didn’t have any allergies, never been to the ER– I was a pretty healthy kid. I didn’t even know how to take pills. Yeah, kinda embarrassing right? But I don’t regret this for the world. I have learned so much, grown a whole lot, and now have a story to share. So, if you are like me, and you like details– read on and I will give you all the deets of my journey!
I believe it was June 1st or 2nd, 2014. I came home from a bonfire with friends, and was relaxing when I started to have some abdominal pain. I thought I was bloated or just crampy, but it started to get worse pretty quick. I remember at one point, I was about to walk upstairs to my room, and I had the most excruciating pain in my lower right abdominal area– so bad it literally took my breath away– and I had to sit down for a few minutes before letting my parents know what was going on. At first we weren’t sure if this was some sort of stomach flu or something more serious. After doing research and being examined by my EMT sister, all symptoms pointed to appendicitis. But we decided to wait it out til morning to see how it goes. I remember laying in my bed, my parents and sister praying over me– and I honestly, I was little excited– but scared too. What was going on? Would I need to go to the hospital? Would I need surgery? Looking back, I laugh at the memory of my dad telling me (in a super serious way) that if your appendix bursts, and it’s not taken out soon, you can die from the escaped fluid. Apparently, he knew of someone (like, an navy buddy or something) who died from this. Well, that totally scared the crap outta me. The next day, I woke up feeling a little better, but still in pain. So we called the doctor, and they told us to go to the Emergency Room. (Okay, if I’m honest, I was pretty excited about going to the ER, even though I was in pain. I’d never been there before). So my mom, my sister, and I went to the ER! It wasn’t busy at the time, so we had good help and a lot of attention. We went through multiple tests, blood work, and even a ultrasound (you have no idea how many times I was asked if I was pregnant– yeah…NOPE). So it turns out it was NOT appendicitis, but from the ultrasound, they found my spleen was enlarged– 14cm instead of the adult average of 11cm. But still no diagnoses. I honestly don’t remember what happened immediately after– whether they gave me meds or antibiotics or not. All I remember was my sister went to go get corndogs (I had a craving), and when she got back, the nurse said I shouldn’t have them. I had to watch my sister eat them. I like corndogs okay– It was hard.
FAST FORWARD >>> We were sent home after a few hours, and the pain just went away in a few days. But we were still concerned and frustrated that we didn’t know the cause. From June – August of 2014, I couldn’t run or do any physical exercise without running out of breath. I constantly had a heart rate of 120 avg. Even walking for while would exhaust my lungs– or something– we didn’t know! I was tested for a ton of things– including mono– 3 times. But all we were told was that it was some sort of virus. But to this day, we still don’t know what it was. Because of my intense heart rate, I was put on beta-blockers in order to reduce it, but was still not allowed to exercise or do sports. Then in August, we were having one of our frequent check ups, and my doctor noticed my neck was enlarged (the technical term is called a “goiter”), and we ran some tests. It turns out that I have hyperthyroidism– which means my thyroid is over-active, (hypothyroidism is the opposite, which is an under-active thyroid). Soooo…. we ran some more tests, and I was finally diagnosed with Grave’s Disease. I’ll give you the google summary of this disease: “Graves’ disease is often the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism. … HyperthyroidismIn Graves’ disease, your immune system creates antibodies that cause the thyroid to grow and make more thyroid hormone than your body needs. These antibodies are called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins (TSIs).”So this changed our perspectives a wee bit. And we started doing a lot research…
In all of this, I am BEYOND grateful for my mom– who did soooo much research– she seriously deserves an award. She was so supportive and caring. And although we still had lots of check ups and specialists, she did a TON of research into homeopathic methods for this disease, and the underlying cause. We believe that there was some sort of virus that triggered a “leaky gut” (not exactly sure what that means), enough for my immune system to “attack itself,” thus, triggering hyperthyroidism and Grave’s Disease.
To sum up the next two years of my life, I had lots of doctor appointments, visits with specialists, and homeopathic remedies. And throughout all of this, I was really not myself. Because the thyroid gland is the center of hormones and such, my moods and emotions were all over the place. But again– I am SOOOO GLAD my mom was always there to observe me and help me talk to the doctors. Because honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. We had two main doctors– an endocrine specialist and a homeopathic doctor. We did all the tests and scans with our endocrine doctor, and all the diets and other remedies with our homeopathic doctor. I went through the Elimination diet, I tried breathing exercises, and certain vitamins with our homeopathic doctor. But every time we went there– I just felt so out of place. I felt pressured. I was an emotional wreck every time (and of course my raging hormones didn’t help). But there came a time when we left an appointment, I just told my mom I didn’t want to go back to that doctor. I was done with being pressured and being told I was doing everything wrong. I know that sounds terrible! And I almost feel bad for thinking like that. But both my parents and I agreed that that doctor was not right for me, and we needed to take the heat off for a while. After that, we only went to our endocrine specialist and it was still rough sometimes– but better. We did lots of tests, lots of check ups, and some scans. Because I was pretty young, we couldn’t do the radioactive Iodine to kill my thyroid and force hypothyroidism. So I was put on a medication to balance my hormone levels and we decided to watch it from there.
TODAY >>> I feel like I’m leaving out some information… but it’s been such a long journey it’s hard to remember! As of right now, I am still on the same medication, and there is a hope that my thyroid levels will eventually go hypo, and I can avoid radioactive iodine or surgery. But my moods, emotions, and levels are all normal– and I have no trouble with breathing or exercise. I can lift. I can run. I CAN through Jesus– and now I CAN appreciate it. This has seriously been a God thing y’all– God gives and takes away– but looking back, I can now see that the things He took away were for my good and for my learning. Through this, God gave me insight to the struggle of health and diet issues. I know that pain of feeling alone and depressed in sickness. I was humbled in watching all my friends do well in sports and fitness, when I couldn’t even go swimming without a floaty– embarrassing, right? I was humbled in trying to swallow huge pills and failing in front of nurses and doctors. I was so self-conscious of my enlarged neck (still am sometimes). But God is greater. Not only did I grow a TON through this, my disease helped others. Without Grave’s Disease, we wouldn’t have been open to healthy food alternatives like IsAgenix– which me and my WHOLE family and more are now blessed with. I have also come to reallyyyyyy appreciate my health. Whether good or bad. Because I have now seen how it glorifies Jesus. I wouldn’t go back. Jesus made me this way, and He had a reason the whole time. There is so much God has blessed me with THROUGH this disease. But to see that, I had to take a step back and surrender it to Him.
So what do you need to surrender to Him? Maybe you don’t have a disease or sickness, maybe it’s something else. But you know what it is. God knows what it is. Why don’t you talk to Him about it? Will you surrender it to Him? In 2 Corinthians 12, it says: “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
God uses our weaknesses for more than we can even fathom. We can take hope that we have POWER in Jesus Christ.
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”