Hi friends. It’s been a while. Where have you been, you say? Feeling like a ton of ****.
It all began a few weeks ago, I noticed, while taking Julia up to her room, climbing 16 stairs, I was out of breath. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and it was as if my heart was going to beat its way right out of my chest. “Geez, I need to really get back into shape!” I thought to myself.
I began to run on our treadmill but noticed that my heart rate was absolutely too fast. So I started monitoring my heart rate. Resting heart rate for me, even while I was an athlete, was always higher than most. It would register at about 70-80. Not anymore! It was registering on average 107-120. I also noticed that I was dropping weight rapidly. I mean- that was fabulous! But something wasn’t right.
Of course, like every other human on this planet, I dug into Google. I was pretty sure I had hyperthyroidism or maybe some sort of cancer. Could those spots on my skin be the cause? Could all those days sitting by the pool or surfing or being a beach bum caused this?
I will admit. I was scared. I didn’t want to show it but I definitely was scared.
I called up the doctors office and told them that my heart was out of control and I was having shortness of breath. They made sure to tell me if I feel like it’s a heart attack to go to the ER or phone 911. Not the case- can I please have an appointment. Luckily, I was able to get an appointment the following day. My friend Jill met me there and I am so incredibly thankful that she did, as I was so nervous. What would they find? Do I have heart disease? Cancer? Will this be it? Am I going to see Julia get old? Get married? Graduate? All the thoughts.
An EKG was done. Science is so cool. They put a whole bunch of magnet looking thingies around my chest, ribcage, and ankle. With that, they were able to get a “picture” of my heart. Normal. All appeared normal. Which is good that I went in to catch this “thing” before it destroys my heart.
Have you had lots of anxiety? “Well, yes.”
That was when things really got real. As some of you know, I suffered from some pretty severe postpartum depression. “Have you had thoughts of suicide?”
With my friend Jill looking on- I said “Yes.”
I could tell the nurse practitioner was alarmed by this. But- I figured I better be truthful since perhaps this could be a symptom. (Which I find out later that it’s is)
He was certainly worried, but I could tell his wheels were turning.
They took some blood because he wanted to see if it was a few things he had in mind. I HATE giving blood. I despise and loathe it. I don’t want to see it, hear it, or know what they are doing. Vomit. Gross. Again, I am thankful for Jill, as she distracted me.
The following day- I was called by the “endocrinologist scheduler”. They wanted to confirm my appointment for September 19. My heart just about sank to my stomach because in my head I got them confused with an oncologist. I took a step back- swallowed the lump in my throat and asked for an explanation. It seems that she was quicker than my Drs office! They hadn’t gotten the chance to explain that my thyroid hormone levels were extremely elevated. The normal high is 1.9 and I was at 7.77
My friend Mike, who also pushed me to go to the doctor, asked me how the appointment went. When I told him all of the above- he was stunned that they wouldn’t see me until a month and a half. He worked his magic and got me an appointment that Monday. Instead of waiting a month and a half- I waited two days. Absolutely amazing.
Monday. It was scary. I guess any doctors office is scary. I was weighed in- 3lbs less than the day before. -17 lbs in a month total and counting. The girls made me laugh- which raised my heart rate to 163. They became a bit concerned and monitored it for a bit. Luckily it dropped back to 117 and off I went to wait for the doctor to come in.
Dr. Kwamanakweenda. She walks in with a big beautiful smile. Right away, the fear that I had dissipated (for the moment). She talked to me about my thyroid levels and diagnosed me with Hyperthyroidism. We went over symptoms I’ve been experiencing. Anxiety- and I’m talking to the point that I had to pull over and throw up because I was having a panic attack, stress (over little things), very very lethargic, shortness of breath, palpitations, irritability (super bitch), and very rapid weight loss.
She immediately said, “This is looking like Grave’s Disease or potentially thyroiditis. Definitely Hyperthyroidism.”
My heart sank as I didn’t really know what all of that meant. She explained it perfectly, however, and I was able to relax again. I guess the part that made me nervous were hearing the treatments. Medication (hard on the liver), or radioactive iodine to kill the thyroid (can’t do that with Julia in the picture), or removal by surgery (they’ve taken my gallbladder… what’s another part of my body… also I know a super cool and awesome surgeon that would do it)
Since Dr. K is a fellow, she is supervised by faculty- Dr. Liu. He came into the room and asked me “How are you doing!?”
I responded with “Ok”
He giggled and said, “Then what are you doing here!?”
After looking over me, he suggested: “Let’s do an unofficial ultrasound!”
During the ultrasound, he looked at my hands and face. He pointed out to Dr. K that my nails were very healthy and my eyes looked normal. I have big buggy eyes as it is. LOL.
He said I am not showing the signs of Graves BUT they need to be sure.
So- I was scheduled for more blood draws and an uptake and nm scan. What? Yeah, I didn’t know what this scan was either. I gave blood- gross gross gross and was on my merry way.
Scheduling the scan was interesting. There was a lot of back and forth and waiting a few days. But it was scheduled. Two days. Wednesday and a Thursday – (yeah yesterday and the day before).
I waited a week in between my meeting with Dr. K and the scan. I was put on beta blockers to slow my wild and crazy heart, lol.
In that short week- I felt like straight up horse caca. One night I felt like I had the flu. I probably should’ve gone to the ER but I’m not that kind of girl (so dumb). I put some essential oils on that a VERY FABULOUS fairy princess Godmother made for me (I’ll explain at a later date). I was NOT a believer- but boom- instantly felt better. Amazing! She did research- and found the oils that would help and they did!
Now, on the day of the scan, I was not to eat two hours prior or two hours after. I arrived at the Emily Couric Cancer Center at 10 am. Valet parking y’all!
I checked in with a really sweet lady at the front then was directed to go down the hall- PASSING THE FOOD SHOP. All the smells. I was so hungry.
I walked up to the desk and a very unpolite woman says “Yes?”
I stammered and said my name. Rolling her eyes, she tries to find me. “It’s K-r-u- Kruskamp”
She puts an ID band on my arm and says “Go sit, they’ll call you in a while”.
So? I was supposed to be here 30 mins early for what? Whatever. I go sit down and start people watching. That’s when life really hit hard. Here I am so afraid of what could be nothing, and right in front of me are people fighting for just one more day, week, year, memory. I felt like such a fool. I thought about my life and that answer that I gave when my nurse practitioner asked me “Have you thought about killing yourself? Have you had a plan?”
Wow. Here- right here in front of me- are people desperately hanging on to every moment, while I was ready to just let go. Sure- I was/am battling depression- but maybe I need to engrain this moment into my skull. I AM BLESSED.
I made a post on social media and said this: (sure it’s rambling but you get the point)
— at UVA Radiology & Medical Imaging.
“Kimberly Crus… camp?”
I follow the nurse down a long hallway and on the window of almost every door was the “radioactive” symbol. She has me sit in a chair and she pulls out a metal canister. Name? Date of birth?
She explains that this would not make me feel any different and that I can not have anything to eat for an hour and a half to two hours. I’m sooooo hungry at this point.
She opens the metal canister and pulls out a plastic pill container. She struggles to get the pill out and asks if I could help. I reach my finger in and pull out the UVa colored pill (orange and blue). She explains that the pharmacy likes making them that color. I tell her I’m a wahoo and swallow the pill.
Unfortunately, I didn’t go into the matrix.
Instead, I went out into the waiting room and sat for a while. I was going to meet Steve for lunch- but had to wait for a bit until his lunchtime.
After a wonderful lunch at Miller’s (yes, Dave Matthews) I head back to the hospital. I didn’t have to wait long. The guy calls me back and was SUPER kind in explaining everything that was about to happen. He brought me a warm blanket and told me to lay down. This gamma camera machine was intimidating and not very comfortable on the tuchus. But, here I go.
First, he lowered a flat portion right above my face, like an inch away from my face you guys, for about 15 minutes. When he walked back in I thought he was done. NOPE. “I only took two pictures, we have three more to go.”
WTF. Into the last 10 mins, I had to pee. It was awful. I had to stay still though! My butt was starting to hurt and I really had to pee.
I asked how they are “taking pictures”. Here’s an explanation: Thyroid scan and uptake uses small amounts of radioactive materials called radiotracers, a special camera, and a computer to provide information about your thyroid’s size, shape, position and function that is often unattainable using other imaging procedures. Read more here.
When all was said and done- I had to go to another room where they took this telescope looking thing to measure the radiation in my knee (?) and in my throat. Yeah- I kept singing the song Radioactive in my head.
Luckily- I didn’t have to come back the next day. So now it was time to sit and wait.
I received the phone call from Dr. K a few hours ago. I’ve been diagnosed with Grave’s Disease. I will be put on methimazole and I will stay on my beta blockers. Normal highs is 18% showing in the thyroid. I was at 75%.
What’s Grave’s Disease? (taken from Web MD)
“First described by Sir Robert Graves in the early 19th century, Graves’ disease is one of the most common of all thyroid problems.
It is also the leading cause of hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces excessive hormones.
Once the disorder has been correctly diagnosed, it is quite easy to treat. In some cases, Graves’ disease goes into remission or disappears completely after several months or years. Left untreated, however, it can lead to serious complications — even death.”
What are some common signs or symptoms? (taken from MayoClinic)
- Anxiety and irritability
- A fine tremor of your hands or fingers
- Heat sensitivity and an increase in perspiration or warm, moist skin
- Weight loss, despite normal eating habits
- Enlargement of your thyroid gland (goiter)
- Change in menstrual cycles
- Erectile dysfunction or reduced libido
- Frequent bowel movements
- Bulging eyes (Graves’ ophthalmopathy)
- Thick, red skin usually on the shins or tops of the feet (Graves’ dermopathy)
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
- Pregnancy issues. Possible complications of Graves’ disease during pregnancy include miscarriage, preterm birth, fetal thyroid dysfunction, poor fetal growth, maternal heart failure, and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a maternal condition that results in high blood pressure and other serious signs and symptoms.
- Heart disorders. If left untreated, Graves’ disease can lead to heart rhythm disorders, changes in the structure and function of the heart muscles, and the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to the body (congestive heart failure).
- Thyroid storm. A rare, but life-threatening complication of Graves’ disease is thyroid storm, also known as accelerated hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxic crisis. It’s more likely when severe hyperthyroidism is untreated or treated inadequately.The sudden and drastic increase in thyroid hormones can produce a number of effects, including fever, profuse sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, delirium, severe weakness, seizures, markedly irregular heartbeat, yellow skin and eyes (jaundice), severe low blood pressure, and coma. Thyroid storm requires immediate emergency care.
- Brittle bones. Untreated hyperthyroidism also can lead to weak, brittle bones (osteoporosis). The strength of your bones depends, in part, on the amount of calcium and other minerals they contain. Too much thyroid hormone interferes with your body’s ability to incorporate calcium into your bones.
That’s pretty much all of it in a nutshell. While I would prefer not to have ANY illness- I’m thankful that this is one that can be managed. I’m grateful that my self-diagnosis of cancer was wrong.
Some days have been better than others. Mostly I’m exhausted and feeling a little achy (muscle pain). To top this all off- I currently have a pretty nasty head cold. Again- people have it far worse- stfu Kimmy.
I pick up my medication tomorrow and will hit the ground running. I really believe this may solve much of the anxiety and discomfort I have been feeling. I’m so thankful to my friends and family- you guys have really been amazing these past few weeks. Especially Bubbins- who has made me laugh when I’m feeling my worst.
Here are some famous peeps that have or are battling Grave’s Disease:
George H.W. Bush