Countdown to RAI

One week before:

Time to stop taking carbimazole, which represses my poor, overworking thyroid gland, and to hope that my metabolism doesn’t speed up too much, whilst at the same time it does need to speed up a bit, to maximise the chances of the RAI working…

Three carbimazole-free days now, and I’m definitely not sleeping so well, though my resting pulse rate remains steady at a healthy level. The photo below shows me in full hyperthyroid state with big, staring eyes, taken one year ago. Some people with Graves Disease get the full bulbous-eye problem, so I actually got away quite lightly here. The eye disease can be worsened with RAI, so I’m taking a course of steroids to prevent that. I hope.

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The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just in front of the windpipe (trachea). One of its main functions is to produce hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolism (the process that turns food into energy). These hormones are called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).       (NHS definition) When T3 and T4 work properly, they help balance body temperature, help the body use energy, and help the brain, heart and other major organs to function properly.

With Graves Disease, your immune system creates antibodies which attack the thryoid, causing the thyroid to grow and make more of the hormones than is needed by your body. The main symptoms are: anxiety and irritability (mood changes), a fine tremor in the hands/fingers, heat sensitivity and sweating, headaches,  increased appetite yet weight loss, difficulty sleeping, fast heartbeat, brittle hair and an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre). I had all these symptoms and knew exactly what it was when I relapsed, and found it frustrating waiting for the blood tests to ‘prove’ what I already knew in order to restart anti-thyroid medicine.

Three days to go:

Feeling irritable today – grrrr! And very hungry… No other symptoms – and still waiting for the weight loss, which, of course, always was the last symptom to kick in, anyway.

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Goodie-bag from Nick and Julie-Anne, containing chocolate and a Star Wars DVD, to keep me gainfully occupied during my incarceration! I’m also looking forward to tackling my bedside pile of books.

One day to go:

Slept badly, finally woke with a ‘thyroid rush’ of adrenaline with which other Graves’ sufferers will be familiar, leaving me feeling jittery. Overnight wind and rain have shaken most of the leaves off the trees in our garden, leaving stark outlines – quite a good metaphor for how I’m feeling now. Irritable and poor concentration – just want to get this over with and start on my enforced hibernation period!

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