February 20, 1998

Hi. I am Widebertha. I was diagnosed with Graves Disease in January 1998 after approximately 10 years of ever worsening symptoms. Blondie, my endocrinologist at the time, promised me that after I had Radio Active Iodine Treatment, all would be well with my health. She assured me that all I would have to do was take a tiny little once a day pill and all my nasty symptoms would be gone forever. I would be a normal, healthy person. “And I have a bridge to sell you!”

My health has been declining in the ensuing 3 1/2 years.

After gaining over 50 pounds between June 2nd, 2000 and August 26th, 2000, I decided that Widebertha was a very appropriate handle. I should clarify that the weight gain was over 50 pounds in just over two months. All my so-called medical caregivers have never read that right. They claim I gained that weight over a period of one year and some have gone as far as to read that to mean I gained that weight in two years. If I had gained 50 pounds in one year, I would consider that a cosmetic problem.  I consider gaining over 50 pounds in two months a medical problem.

I am a 53-year-old daughter,  wife, mother, mother in law, and Nana. I have two children who are all grown up and married. I am blessed with a darling grandson who is the joy of my life. I reserve my strength for the times I spend with him.  I am a very fortunate daughter. My parents are my constant inspiration.

I do not know what the final outcome of my treatment will be. I do not know if I will ever find the answers I am looking for. I am an intelligent woman who was actively involved in running a business together with my husband. I went in to the office every day and played a vital role. I was also a genealogical researcher and had been in the process of writing a book. I have had to give all that up. My life has become a daily battle just trying to cope with my symptoms. I do know that I am not just a depressed, menopausal, 53 year old hypochondriac with panic issues who is ready for the glue factory. In fact, by now the glue factory would not want me! My life was much to rewarding and interesting to imagine all these symptoms. I have too much I still want to do in life and I need to find some answers.

This blog will contain my story and my perceptions of the never-ending struggle I have endured and continue to endure with the medical system.

I hope to convey my message in a humorous vein. I may at times be sarcastic but forgive me that transgression.

After the diagnosis of Graves disease was made at the country clinic, I was referred to an endocrinologist who I will refer to from now on as the Blonde Bimbo.  February 20th, 1998 was the first time in my life that I saw an endocrinologist.  If I had only known then what I know now my life would have taken a completely different turn that day.  Belatedly, I realized that my ignorance about Graves’s disease would impact the rest of my life.

Blonde Bimbo’s report after this first visit reads as follows: “no lid lag or exophthalmoses was noted.  No adenopathy is present in the neck and the thyroid was essentially normal in size and consistency to palpation.  Chest, cardiovascular and abdominal exam was unremarkable apart from an II/VI mid systolic murmur heard over aortic and pulmonic areas with no clear radiation.  On neurological exam she does have some mild proximal muscle weakness and a tremor of the outstretched hands.  Reflexes are brisk and symmetrical.  She has no peripheral stigmata of thyrotoxicosis.

In short, this lady has mild clinical and biochemical hyperthyroidism.  The duration of her symptoms, if in fact they are all due to the thyrotoxicosis, would suggest a diagnosis of Grave’s disease.  An alternative possibility is that she currently has a thyrioditis which certainly is within the differential given the lack of goiter or definitive eye findings.  For the present time I have asked her to get some further baseline blood work done today.  A thyroid scan and uptake have been arranged for her in the near future with a return appointment to discuss management thereafter.  If in fact she has Grave’s disease given her age and the longstanding nature of her symptoms I favor therapeutic use of radioactive Iodine.  In the interim until things are sorted out I have taken the liberty of giving her a prescription for Atenolol 50 mg. p.o. o.d. (per mouth once a day) for her symptoms of adrenergic excess.”

On February 20th, 1998 my T4 was 113 with the lab normal being 58-140.  My T3RIA was 3.2 with the lab normal being 1.3-2.8.  My TSH was <.1 with the lab normal being 0.5-4.0.

The thyroid antibody test I had on February 20th came back with all results as negative.  Thyroglobulin antibodies were negative, microsomal antibodies were negative, ANA was negative and the Latex was negative.

On the same day my ESR was 51 with the lab normal for a female being 0-20.

The lab noted on the test result that my platelets appeared normal, RPX slight aniso with few macrocytes and no latex present.

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