My Journey with Graves’ Disease: {Part 1} Diagnosis During Pregnancy

 

journey-with-graves-disease

I wanted to share my journey with Graves' Disease.

This will be a several part series since my journey spans over 3 years.

Here is my story.

When I was in nursing school in 2005, I had become 108 lbs. & was very frail looking. My doctor thought she felt some thyroid enlargement, so she ordered a thyroid panel & an ultrasound. Everything came back within normal limits, so we just assumed the weight loss was from stress of nursing school & working a full-time job as a pharmacy technician in a crazy busy retail pharmacy.

Fast forward to my pregnancy confirmation appointment in May 2010. My OB thought she felt some thyroid enlargement & requested I make an appointment with a primary care physician to have labs ordered. Since I didn't have any health issues that required maintenance & was rarely sick, I did not have one. So I made an appointment with a local recommended physician for an exam. They drew a thyroid panel in the office & informed me that if the results came back abnormal, that they would start me on thyroid medication & I would need to see an endocrinologist since I was pregnant.

The results came back & they were not what anyone was expecting. My thyroid panel was 7 times higher than the normal range. This CHANGED EVERYTHING. I went in for a follow-up visit & my heart rate was elevated. She prescribed a beta-blocker, but all of a sudden, the primary care physician did not feel comfortable starting an 8 week pregnant woman on ANY thyroid medication until I was evaluated by an endocrinologist. As a medical professional, I understood & appreciated her wanting to rely on an expert for treatment, until she REFUSED to start me on the medication she promised. After we found out there was a TWO WEEK wait to see the endocrinologist who REFUSED to start me on any medication until I was seen, she still wasn't budging, so I went to the pharmacy to fill my prescription afraid & prepared myself for the longest 2 weeks of my life.

When I arrived home, I began taking the beta-blocker she prescribed for my rapid heart rate. Within the hour, I had broken out in a rash & my tongue began to swell. I knew to take a Benadryl but being pregnant I didn't want to chance anything, so I called my primary care physician. She wanted me to go the emergency room. GREAT. I had never been allergic to any medication in my life & now I was about to have to sit in an emergency room for hours.

While in the emergency room, my vitals were checked & they just monitored me for additional symptoms. It's amazing to me how people react once they find out you're pregnant. All of a sudden you are leper that no one feels comfortable treating. I get it. Trust me. In this sue happy world we live in, I don't blame them because they're automatically dealing with two cases instead of one, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating when you are on the patient side of it. Since I wasn't experiencing any additional symptoms, I was sent home & called my primary care physician.

She called in a different beta-blocker since my heart rate was still high. I waited until the next day to start that medication. Once again, I broke out in a rash, took a Benadryl & opted not to call the doctor because I was NOT sitting in the emergency room again. It was beyond clear that I was allergic to beta-blockers. Period. So it was back to waiting on the endocrinologist appointment.

That weekend, I began having tremors in my hands. A few days later, I woke up with bed shaking. It wasn't an earthquake, it was ME shaking the bed. At first I thought I was having a seizure, but since I was completely with it mentally, I knew my tremors had just gotten much, much worse. On top of the tremors, my heart rate was at 120 in a dead sleep. Try sleeping when you feel like you're running a marathon, not easy. I was exasperated at this point. I couldn't get into the endocrinologist, it was clear my primary wasn't going to do anything, the emergency room physicians were not going to do anything, so my husband & I made the decision to see a physician he had personal rapport with at the local urgent care. Since she just left her private practice of many years, he knew she would do what was right.

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.