My name is Emily Garcia I’m 28 years old, I’m a fun loving California girl and I have an auto immune disorder called Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is a autoimmune problem that causes the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone, which is called hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease is often the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism. It effects 1 in 4 women some don’t even know till gets worst and it is difficult to diagnosed.
My battle began as my life was just starting out, I was on a weight loss journey and successfully, I had just lost 150 pounds, I was in a medic program to become a paramedic. I was so free being that I am young, single, childless and with limited responsibilities, The world was my playground, I could wake up and decide today I can go on an adventure to the to the beach or Disneyland life was good, til January 2015 I was running my first 5k and I collapsed but thought nothing of it, the next few weeks in medic school I couldn’t focus everything was so hard for me to remember then it was too hot, mind you it was winter, I’d be drenched in sweat. February came, and we were doing an EKG lab in class it was my turn to have the leads placed on me, my classmate the pushed the button my instructor told him to do it again the results where abnormal. My instructor sent me to the hospital, and they sent to see my primary care. I hadn’t felt well in a while my energy was low, I had gotten blood work done a few days prior then I went to see my doctor. My doctor of 23 years came in and told me I had graves and it was the worst case my numbers were bad that it was affecting my heart, I was having brain fog and my muscle were wasting, he also felt masses in my throat, and from there what’s where my battle with graves started.
The Battle Begins
My thyroid had declared war on my body and I was determined to not let this define me or knock me down I went from being pretty healthy to 7 prescribed medications and I was placed on medical bedrest being the girl that I am I wasn’t going to let this stop me I was so determined to fight, I’m a stubborn woman but that lasted like 2 weeks though, quickly my health decline, the day came that I started fainting and my legs would give out randomly and I’d fall then, I’d have bad heart palpations it was very upsetting. The days of random road trips were gone and replaced with doctor visits every week I’d see my Doctor, then endocrinologist and then my ENT, Mondays and Fridays I had lab work. My doctors the MA’s and lab techs became my new best friends suddenly vacation meant not going to an appointment. My dreams of becoming a medic were gone I went from wanting to save life to saving my own. My health declined drastically and I wasn’t responding to the medication, I couldn’t eat or hold anything down, my hair started thinning, I was weak often I had consistent headaches, my weight yo-yoed and my hands would shake, it was very depressing my carefree days were gone my friends stopping inviting me on trips everyone was scared I’d get sick or that I’d collapse while out. So, my life was Netflix in my room it was especially hard for me being I’m a social butterfly so being locked up took a toll on me. A year passed, and I was worst, it was time to look at other options, so they said the only thing they could do was radiation or a complete thyroidectomy. However, they couldn’t do the radiation, it I couldn’t hold down food and I would be a hazard since a thyroid radiation is done with a pill. Then I couldn’t have the thyroidectomy for the fact my levels were so bad that that I could go into a thyroid storm on the table, so we gave the thyroid medication another shot. September came, and my levels hadn’t improved
I had been in the hospital for a possible thyroid storm. My doctor said it was time for action, he gave me the speech “if you don’t have the surgery you might die from a thyroid storm and but also your levels are so bad you can die on the table”, I felt so bad that I just wanted to feel better I am fighter and was ready to fight this. In October I had a complete thyroidectomy, everything that could go wrong, went wrong my luck just got worst, I had two surgeries in the same day, but I went in brave hoping this would make me feel better.
Road to Recovery
After my thyroidectomy, I spend a week in the hospital, my calcium levels were low, and my thyroid levels were everywhere. I spent the next months at the doctors every week .I fought to get better but unfortunately now it’s been a year and a half since I had the surgery, and I still haven’t gotten better but I am still hopeful that someday they will find a better way to treat people who have auto immune disorders. My mission since I was diagnosed is to raise awareness to other women on getting your neck checked. I’m still fighting the good fight I am sick and always tired but you’ll never see me without a smile. My dreams of becoming a medic shattered but I started working from home and continue to bring awareness everyone to “Check Your Neck”. Your thyroid reaches almost every cell in your body. It’s important that it is working properly
Check your Neck
There are different thyroid disorders but I know about Graves from personal experience, and know that 1 in 4 are affected with a thyroid problems
In Graves’ disease, your immune system creates antibodies that cause the thyroid to grow and make more thyroid hormone than your body needs. These antibodies are called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins (TSIs). The TSIs bind to thyroid cell receptors, which are normally “docking stations” for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH—the hormone responsible for telling the thyroid to produce hormones). The TSIs then trick the thyroid into growing and producing too much thyroid hormone, leading to hyperthyroidism.
The early symptoms of Graves’ disease may be confused with other conditions and make diagnosis a challenge. Some of the more common symptoms include:
Anxiety, restlessness, tremors, irritability, difficulty sleeping
Heat intolerance, sweating
Chest pain, palpitations
Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
Increased stool frequency
Irregular menstrual periods
Difficulty controlling diabetes
Prominent, bulging eyes
Don’t take no for answer
What I have learned from having an invisible illness many doctors will brush you off because they cant see it, don not except no and demand answers because you deserve to know whats going on in your body. for years I said I didn’t feel right and when they found that I had graves they said oh well thats where that came from which I firmly believe if it had been caught earlier it could have been controlled with medication
It’s a bummer that I’m living with this, but it makes me grateful and appreciative for the good days that I have, the only con I have is people consistently worrying about me and the toll it takes on my family, but I have such a great support system. Life is precious, and I enjoy talking and supporting others going through this. I believe maybe somethings do happen for a reason, I’ve documented my journey and multiple people have reached and at told me because of me they found out they had a thyroid problem because of something I shared. I hope to continue bringing awareness for years to come and hopefully someday I feel better but for now I’ll just keep on fighting the good fight with a smile on my face.
– Emily Marina Garcia
– Instagram: @emilymarina29