In the Dark

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This blog was dark for a time. This is an explanation.

I almost died. It wasn't that serious a cause, normally; Grave's Disease hyperthyroidism that built up subtly for months, undiagnosed and unsuspected, until it reached a critical toxicity. Overproduction of thyroid hormone raised my metabolism. I lost almost 60 pounds. My heart rate rose above 140 bpm, became erratic, and threatened to stop altogether.

I thought I was being very healthy and enjoying the result. Watched what I ate. Had at least two servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Walked a few brisk miles each day, worked out at the gymn. I could see bones and muscle definition that I had hardly ever seen in my life except during times of illness or starvation. Yet I felt healthier than ever before, and congratulated myself.

I had nothing to do with it. It wasn't because I was suddenly doing all the right things. I wish people with naturally high metabolism would recognize their sheer genetic luck. Mine was due to a disease, an autoimmune disorder sort of like lupus. Grave's Disease causes the body's immune system to attack very specific tissues; primarily the thyroid gland and tissues similar to thyroid - the muscles around and behind the eyes, under the skin, the fingernail beds of the fourth and fifth fingers.

It raised my metabolism to dangerous levels. It started last year, with something like hives, itchy red spots that had me looking for bedbugs. The weight loss began the same time as a wellness competition at work, which I gave the credit to. Then came heart palpitations, shortness of breath. I would be in a meeting, speaking or about to speak, when my chest would go still, just come to a halt. I couldn't speak. My anxiety levels rose. I thought it was panic attacks. I was shaky, with tremors in my hands and the long muscles of my arms and legs. I began to have muscle wasting and weakness. After a few months of that and worse I left my job, thinking the symptoms were stress-related.

It came to a head when I went to Florida for an aunt's memorial service. The heat was like a blow to the chest. I couldn't breathe or walk. The sunlight was painful. I was constantly and hugely hungry, eating day and night, yet rapidly losing weight. I went to my mother's doctor, who immediately sent me to an emergency room, beginning a round of doctors and cautions about suddenly dropping dead.

I had a radioactive iodine treatment in an attempt to kill the thyroid gland and was told to wait a few days before driving home, as I might poison every public restroom on my route across the United States. I'm not infectious and no longer poisonous. The thyroid issue is unresolved and will be for at least another six months. But I'm finally back home in the city.


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