Renee’s Thyroid Eye Disease Journey
- Posted on: Aug 30 2018
One of our wonderful patients, Renee, joins Dr. Douglas for a video interview so she can share her thyroid eye disease journey with all of you!
There is hope for all of you! As hard as things may seem in the beginning, things get better and orbital decompression surgery is life-changing. As the thyroid eye disease progresses, you don’t recognize yourself anymore. It causes changes to how your face and eyes look and this is obviously very frustrating. But the most important thing I want to share with everyone is to never lose hope on your thyroid eye disease journey!
What lifestyle and diet changes did you find to be most helpful?
This disease came into my life and I learned I needed to make some lifestyle changes, like diet, stress, work; and overall to slow down my life. I tried a little bit of everything. Because I also have Celiac’s disease, gluten is absolutely forbidden. It is a big trigger of inflammation in the body. Quitting gluten can do miracles. Also, I don’t eat dairy anymore. It was giving me horrible allergies and inflammation. I eat mostly vegetables and a small amount of animal protein. These changes improved my life tremendously.
I changed jobs, I moved to Uruguay (South America). This obviously is not going to work for everyone, but it is important to manage stress levels in your life in small ways. Such a challenging moment helps you realize what your priorities in life are. The first thing is taking care of your body and self. You need to take the time to meditate or do whatever it is that helps you relax.
What kind of changes did you see with your eyes and face that bothered you the most?
The first thing that actually made me realize something was wrong was that my eyes were always watering and they started swelling. It looked like I had been crying a lot all of the time. Then the symptoms of Graves’ disease appeared. My eyes were puffy on the top and bottom lids. My face shape started changing – a lot of fat build up in my cheeks. After some time, my eyes were really big and pushed forward and felt pressure in my eyes; it was really bad. Then palpitations and sweating came. I didn’t have enough tears so I had to use artificial tears all the time. It was all very frustrating.
Surgery was focused on reversing these changes so you could like yourself again. When these changes happen in just a few months it has a big impact on this life.
Yes, I felt very hopeless and depressed. I didn’t even know that there was a surgery that would correct this. I become obsessed with researching what could be done and then you popped up on my computer and I had hope! I was so grateful that I had finally found the solution to make me look normal again! For me, the surgery was life changing, I never thought I would be able to look so good again.
What advice do you have for others out there who are in the early struggling stages of the disease?
The first thing is to take a deep breath and slow down. You just have to take a moment to not lose hope. If you have an autoimmune disease, you have to reduce inflammation and do the best you can to take care of your body. I also suggest finding a good holistic doctor who can make recommendations for supplements that will work well for you. But ultimately, you need to take care of your body with diet and exercise.
This disease has a peak and then it calms down. It is not going to be a thunderstorm forever! So just know that there is hope that it will calm down. And at the end when your lab work is normalized, you can turn to surgery so you can look like yourself again. This is alll just part of the thyroid eye disease journey.
I wasn’t scared of the surgery, I was just really looking forward to it! The pain wasn’t that bad, the recovery was amazing and every thing went so smooth. I am so happy with the whole process. Thank you so much, Dr. Douglas.