Friday, April 11, 2014

Solving a Mystery. My Journey with Graves' Disease

Graves' Disease. Who the hell thought up that name? It sounds like it's destined to kill you. But not me! I won't let it!

A few weeks ago I noticed that I was having short spurts of rapid heartbeats. I Googled, WebMd(ed?), and Mayo Clinic(ed?) to see what could potentially be the cause. Everything pointed to anxiety. Great. If I knew how to get rid of it, I would have done so a long time ago. So I carried on with my life. When I would have these moments, I would just sit down and close my eyes until it stopped. This didn't always work when I was in traffic.

Having been hypertensive before, I knew I had to be careful. I've been doing well to maintain my blood pressure...but this rapid heartbeat was a mystery to me. Then, one morning I woke up and before I even attempted to get out of bed I was dizzy. What the crap?! I took my blood pressure. Pressure was 119/80 (damn near perfect) but my resting heart rate was 143! Scared, I packed my baby up and took her to her grandmother...in my 20/20 hindsight, I should have called an ambulance. But I had to make sure my baby was in a safe place. Then I went to the emergency room and was given a series of tests (EKG, blood work, urine, etc). While we waited for the results, I was given 4 baby aspirin, an IV and a beta blocker to slow down my heart rate. It didn't work. My heart was still pounding so hard I seriously thought I was having a heart attack. EKG was clear except the rapid beating.

When the lab results came in, everything was fine except my thyroid level. It was 3 times too high.Why does it happen, how does it happen? Probably heredity. That's the only explanation I've gotten. I was given a prescription for a higher does of beta blockers and told to follow up with my primary care doctor. I did. I was then sent to see the Endocrinologist. Well, first I was sent to Nuclear Medicine to have a RadioIodine Uptake test done. It consisted of swallowing a pill with minimal amount of radiation, coming back in four hours to have a picture of the thigh and neck taken (to see where the iodine concentration is), coming back in 24 hours for another set of pictures, then getting another small amount of the RadioIodine injected, waiting 30 minutes and then having a CT scan of the thyroid. After which, was my appointment with Dr. Blue. Apparently he used to be the advisor to the Surgeon General on all things thyroid related.

The appointment educated and scared me at the same time. I was told that I have Graves, Disease and that I would need to have a Radioactive Iodine treatment. Puzzled...confused and not wanting radiation in my body, I looked at him with a screw-face. He then told me that he no longer performs the thyroid surgery because the radioiodine works much better. Blah. I was told that I couldn't hold my baby for about 3 days after the treatment. How was I supposed to accomplish that? I had to send her to my family. Like any other Internet Certified Physician, I googled this until I drove myself nuts. From what I read, I would have to stay away from her for 2 weeks!

The day of the treatment (2 days after being diagnosed) I packed up all of her things she would need for the next few days and headed to the hospital after dropping her off. I first went to the lab to have a pregnancy test done (I could have saved them that trouble) and then I received my instructions (below) and tried to think away my nervousness. The treatment was in pill form, about the size of a jumbo multivitamin. Given to me with a cup of water. After that, I sat in an isolated waiting room for an hour (to make sure I didn't throw it up) and then went home, instructions in hand and a little card that I was to present to TSA or police if my radiation set off any alarms. My dosage was a 30.3 mci capsule.

The instructions were...

  1. Flush toilet twice and wash hands after each use for 7 days after treatment.
  2. No mouth kissing or sharing of food or utensils for 7 days after treatment.
  3. Do not hold children for 48 hours (2 days) after treatment.
  4. Patient must wean if breast feeding.
  5. Do not become pregnant for 6 months.
  6. If patient vomits within 4 hours after dose, flush vomitus down the toilet and flush it 3 times. Notify Nuclear Medicine for any further instructions.
  7. Sign that I am not pregnant or breastfeeding.
  8. Go back to the lab in 6 weeks to have blood drawn, make an appt to see Dr. Blue.
More to come in another post.

Keep me in your prayers good people!
RoJo

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