Every once in awhile, I find reason to disclose a little bit more of myself in these Maura4u blogs.
As I share my tale with Graves’ disease (hyperthyroidism), I hope the message will translate into some hope and inspiration for readers.
At age 28, my health took a turn. I began experiencing weight loss, over-exertion, fatigue, heart palpitations, under-eye circles and my hair turning totally brittle. The first indications occurred while I was running; I felt completely drained and faint.
Doctors misdiagnosed me twice: once, to say I had a brain tumor and next to tell me I had a heart condition.
Barely able to function by afternoons at work and appearing like I emerged from a coffin (it was pretty dreadful), I finally found a doctor who diagnosed my symptoms. I suffered from hyperthyroidism, otherwise known as Graves’ disease. Apparently, this small but over-stimulated thyroid gland had the capacity to govern and badly interrupt much of my body’s routine functions.
Unable to slow the activity through medication, the doctor ultimately recommended full removal of my thyroid.
“You’ll have to take thyroid replacement for the rest of your life, but at least we’ll get it under control,” he told me. “You should feel fine once it’s removed.”
Living in Florida, I covered up repeatedly, wearing turtle-necked tops even in the middle of summer. I didn’t want my husband to see the surgery staples that kept my scar together and didn’t want others to wonder if I inadvertently (or worse) had attempted suicide.
For a number of years, I dutifully took my synthroid pills but found myself increasingly disturbed by the passage of time.
“Was I really supposed to be depending on this pill? Was this right? Was this what God said about his creation – namely, that a small pill was required to keep me alive?”
The mental and spiritual question continued to grow. Increasingly, I was living somewhere between worldly wisdom and an emerging faith that was challenging me. Adding to my dilemma was a strict upbringing that taught me to obey authority. Questioning a medical doctor’s orders ran smack into that training.
A defining moment occurred nearly twenty years after surgery. One morning, while brushing my teeth, an inner voice spoke:
“If you have no lack and you are unable to die, why would you place yourself beneath any institution of man?”
I wish I could tell you that it was a well-received word. To the contrary, the message (probably meant to free me from my own fear) actually increased my sense of trepidation.
All stress hit the fan when I waited to the very last moment to reschedule an annual exam with the endocrinologist.
On the way to the doctor’s office, I transformed into a horrified child. Driving alone in my car, every fearful thought about obeying authority pummeled me, completely intimidating my still childish mental state.
I already endured the corrective words of the nurse who admonished my foolishness for scheduling such an overdue appointment. Now I’d be facing her boss, the doctor.
To make matters worse, I needed to “confess” something to the doctor. I had taken a pill that morning but also skipped, on and off, taking pills a few days prior. There was no way I planned to share the so-called message I received while brushing my teeth.
Thankfully, the doctor had an easy-going nature. He smiled slightly as I “confessed” the sin of unfaithful pill ingestion.
“Well, let’s see what the blood test shows,” he commented.
A day later, the doctor phoned with a follow-up call. “Well, Mrs. Sweeney, you’re good for another year. I lowered your dosage just a fraction.”
I was relieved to hear his jovial voice, not addressing me as an angry parent but, instead, as a friendly medical provider. Consistent with his direct nature, he also advised me that a body without thyroid production could only survive about seven days.
That afternoon, I dutifully drove to Walgreens and picked up my next supply of thyroid supplement. Yet, once home, I could not swallow another pill. The bottle remained before me like a life preserver, but I wouldn’t open it up.
I should complete this personal story by conveying yet another “message” I’d received – at the same master bathroom sink where I’d received the original one.
First, I’ll share some personal history. Since I was little, I believed in a Higher Power, a benevolent Heavenly Father who gently, yet powerfully, presided over the events of men.
While I knew God wouldn’t be showing up as my neighbor, I felt He could – and wanted – to be “known” in other ways. Perceiving this Benevolent One as a spiritual presence rather than a physical one, I trusted that He could make a way for emotional, social and other non-physical forms of healing.
One day, as my thoughts contemplated my body’s adaptation to life free of thyroid supplements, this message interrupted me:
“You make distinctions. I do not.”
May something I’ve shared be of inspiration to others. Somewhere, beyond us all, there is a Benevolent One who does not distinguish in terms of how healing can – and cannot – be accomplished.
From His over-arching perspective, healing is all the same.
She writes on personal happiness and authenticity
Find her series of books, The Art of Happiness, on Amazon