I've come to discover that Grave’s disease requires patience beyond belief. And a willingness to accept that there are things that will happen to you that are simply beyond your control--especially when your own body betrays you. Read on for my most recent experience . . .
It was right around midnight Wednesday night last week. I'd returned from our group dinner and met up with several business colleagues for a couple of hours on the 66th floor of our hotel. We called it a night at midnight; I went down to my room and crawled into bed.
Then I felt it. I thought my elevated heart rate was due to the short jaunt to my room. But when it didn't slow down, and in fact sped up, I knew right away something was wrong. Very wrong. My heart rate had climbed to 95 beats per minute and stayed there till after 4am. Normally, within 10 minutes of going to bed it's at 50 or less. I was also overheating in a room that had been cooled by AC all day. I was 7100 miles from home. In Shanghai, China. If I needed medical help, where exactly would I get it?
The last thing I remember was looking at my alarm clock at just after 4am--then somehow, as bad as I felt, I managed to drift off to sleep. Thankfully.
Our business meeting resumed Thursday morning. Although my heart rate had returned to normal, what I was dealing with now were legs that wanted to collapse beneath me, and a body that shook beyond my control in a fine tremor, including my hands. By late morning, I spoke for just a couple of minutes from my chair. Speaking comes pretty naturally to me, but now it took all the control I could marshal just to get the words out. The microphone shook in my hands as I held it. The red dot from the laser pointer moved erratically across the screen as I pointed. I hoped no one noticed but in the split second that I did, I just set it down in front of me. Enough of that. I felt ill but grateful I was at least sitting in a chair. If I were standing, I'm certain I would have wound up on the floor. I told no one about any of it.
We had the afternoon free. I joined six of my colleagues for a local shopping excursion. It was fun. And it took my mind off the events of the morning and previous evening. Enroute to meet up with our group for dinner my legs nearly buckled underneath me. My heart sank. I was really looking forward to going but opted not to at the very last minute.
We landed in my hometown in the early afternoon on Friday. I was shaking. My voice was shaky, my body was shaky, my hands were shaky, everything. During the flight, my heart beat would speed up in a sudden burst for about 10 seconds and then go back to normal for a long while. Then suddenly it'd skip a couple of beats hinting at arrythmia which can be quite dangerous. . .then back to normal . . . on and on it went. Needless to say I was too anxious to actually sleep. Despite having 7 other colleagues on the flight with me, I found myself unable to tell any of them what had happened, or what was happening. In the darkness of the cabin, there I sat in the glow of my iPod, which was actually quite peaceful.
Today? My heart beat is quite normal. The fine tremors are still there--I can feel them in my body and they're visible in my hands as I type. At least for now, I'm the only one who knows. Oh yeah, except for you if you're reading this.
What to make of it? I've learned to take each day as it comes, worry about what you can control, and read, read, read as much as you can about Graves Diesease, Hyperthyroid, etc. Every single person's experience will be different. Some days you'll feel like you're on top of the world. Other days can scare you to death. But with each twist and turn in the road, keep your eyes a few hundred feet out in front of you--it's a long journey. Graves Disease is something that has happened to me. But it's not who I've become and it won't ever be.