A few months ago, I found myself in a terrible reading slump. I wanted to participate in the International Anita Brookner Day last July 16th, but could not choose a book and could not focus to read, even though I had just bought two used Anita books in Arkansas. I also had ideas for some interesting interviews, but I could not force myself to think of questions and prepare them. Fortunately, I was not very busy at work at the time, because I don’t think I could have had enough focus to do a very good job. It was all very strange. I felt anxious and discombobulated a lot of the time. It took awhile before I really even became aware that something was wrong, it was so gradual. Then I just wrote it off to being anxious and decided to talk to my doctor at my upcoming yearly physical. I went walking every few days with a friend of mine and I noticed I was not as peppy as normal (thinking it was the heat). I even felt some chest pain at different times, but since I was never short of breath and could breathe okay, I didn’t really worry. (Stupid, stupid, stupid). Anyway, I went to my physical and told the doctor I was anxious and could he please give me something for it? Everything seemed normal to him at the time, as far as he could tell, but the blood tests would tell more. I made a follow up appointment and then waited another month for that appointment. When I got there, the doctor assured me he knew what was wrong. My thyroid levels were out of whack, and he thought I was suffering from hyperthyroidism. So the anti-anxiety medication was as useless as I found it–it just had made me sleepy. He could not treat me, but assured me I was in no danger and needed to make an appointment with an endocrinologist. Well, another 5 or 6 weeks (with a trip to Maui thrown in) and I showed up to the endocrinologist’s office. They gave me a radioactive iodine pill to do a scan on my thyroid the next day, after explaining what the results could be and after another blood test. The numbers were the same on that blood test, still showing hyperthyroidism. After the 6-minute scan the next day, the doctor confirmed that I had Graves’ Disease. All I had ever heard about Graves’ Disease was that Barbara Bush had it and it made her eyes bug out. There were two treatment options: a drug with terrible side effects or killing off my thyroid with more radioactive iodine. After reading about it overnight, I quickly opted for the iodine. The radioactive iodine. After a month or so, I would have to take thyroid medication for the rest of my life. I have known a few people with thyroid issues that have to take medicine everyday so that seemed to be the lesser of the two evils. What was funny was waiting for that radioactive iodine pill the next day and seeing a nuclear lab wheel in a military container. Then that container was opened to find a metal thermos-like container. After taking that container apart, a radiologist set the containers in a bin that could be shut quickly for radiation protection. After opening the thermos container, there was one lone pill that looked like a cold capsule–my specific dose of radioactive iodine that I had to swallow. I did and that has been it until I go back to the doctor in mid-December. The endocrinologist also gave me a prescription for a beta blocker to help with the heart-related symptoms. That drug helped almost immediately. I have to take it until I get reassessed and I am happy to, believe me. You can look up Graves Disease if you want. I found one of the better explanations to be at www.mayoclinic.com. I think it was caught fairly early, because of course I have heard horror stories now of the mental aspects that are not so pleasant. One of my friend’s current boss was fired early in his career due to Graves’ Disease and his inability to focus. He thought he was going crazy. Anyway, I just thought I might tell everyone what has been going on–especially those that I was preparing interviews for and have seemed to fallen off the face of the earth. I will be working diligently in the next few weeks to prepare these. Also, I wanted to share what’s been happening in case it happens to you. Graves’ Disease is hereditary and is not life threatening, although I must say I think I had a majority of the very annoying symptoms. I found out one of my grandmothers had her thyroid removed in the late 40s or early 50s. And today I found out one of my cousins also had thyroid issues a while back. Thank you to everyone who was very supportive at this time. I really appreciate it immensely.
Oh, the only books I could manage to read were some of the Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell and one Stuart Woods book. Sharpe is a great character and I am glad that it was him who helped me “soldier on” through this weirdness.