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Thankful Thursdays #66: modern medicine

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My appreciation for modern medicine is surely shared by many.  I’m sure most everyone alive has been thankful for it at some point in their lives, those that have survived cancer and life-threatening injuries probably more than we will ever know.  Personally, I depend on it daily to survive and that constant reminder when I take my pills and my insulin makes me continually thankful.

Without modern medicine, I would have died before my 21st birthday.

I was diagnosed with Graves disease, a thyroid disease, when I was 19.  This is a hyperthyroid disease (which means faster metabolism, faster heartbeat, etc.-my resting heart rate was 140 beats per minute) and has the fun bonus symptoms of a goiter and bulging eyes.  Being young and reckless, I thought I knew better than my doctor and decided that rather than take the pills he gave me or take radioactive iodine to kill my overactive thyroid, I would try natural remedies and cure myself that way.  Unfortunately in my case, I really needed an aggressive treatment to nip the disease in the bud, and while I was able to significantly improve my bulging eyes through chiropracty, bringing them back to the state you see them today, my disease was too progressed to be taken care of quickly enough with natural cures.

I clearly had a goiter on my wedding day, but I wouldn't be diagnosed with Graves Disease for another three months.

I let it go on for a year after my diagnosis.  Then I started getting new symptoms.  I would get strange floaters in my vision that became larger and larger as weeks passed, until I wouldn’t be able to see at all for 30 minutes to an hour after I ate.  I was thirsty all the time and had to pee all the time.  This too progressed until I kept the largest size cup that Quik Trip offered at my desk and drank one filled with water every half hour, and literally peed every five to ten minutes. I became weaker and weaker, and I remember going to buffets and Dennis having to get my plates of food for me because I couldn’t get up.  I made a point never to squat or sit down on the floor because I wouldn’t have the strength to get back up.  Eventually I couldn’t muster enough energy to even leave our apartment and I stopped going to work.  When I did leave, Dennis had to carry me out to the truck.  Despite eating tons of fattening food, I lost 30 pounds in 3 months.

Some people thought I held my eyes unnaturally wide, but this was my relaxed look. My eyes were so distended that when I blinked, one of them didn't fully close. You can also see the goiter on my neck is much more pronounced.

Dennis was worried I had diabetes but I refused to accept this.  I knew it was just my Graves Disease getting worse, so I finally broke down and scheduled my date with the radioactive iodine pill.  I hated the idea of taking a pill to replace my thyroid hormone for the rest of my life, but now that prospect seemed so much better than what I was living through.

By the time this picture was taken, my eyes had gone back into place thanks to months of chiropracty, but you can see how unhealthy I still look. My hair and eyebrows were thinning and I was losing weight. My bathing suit was hanging off me and my arms have never been this thin in my adult life, before or after.

Dennis had to roll me into the hospital in a wheelchair because I didn’t have the strength to walk.  Simply standing and moving from the wheelchair into the doctor’s chair caused me to pant with exertion.  The nurse who was only there to do some preliminary stuff caught a whiff of my breath and said it smelled like acetone, which she was familiar with because her Mom was diabetic.  She checked my blood sugar and it was 697.  I hadn’t eaten anything that morning so that was my fasting blood sugar.  I can’t imagine how high it had been after meals.

I found out later that thyroid disease will eventually affect every organ in your body if left untreated, and that’s why my pancreas shut down.  Because I didn’t want to utilize a cure for it that would leave me taking a pill for the rest of my life, I ended up causing myself another disease which requires four shots a day minimum.

So what was supposed to be just a quick swallowing of a pill turned into a week-long hospital stay while they brought my blood sugar into a normal range, replenished my electrolytes and taught me how to manage my disease, including the hardest part–injecting insulin.  I nearly passed out before I got the gumption to stick that first needle into myself!  Thank God my Mom was there with me, or I never would have been able to do it.  We agreed to do it together on the count of three (hers was filled with saline solution) and that’s the only reason I was able to finally stick the needle in my stomach.  After that, it was much easier.

This photo was taken five years after the last one. Happy and healthy again!

I know the normal reaction to discovering you have a disease is shock, denial, and “why me?” but all I felt was THANKFUL.  While I’d been outraged when Dennis suggested I had diabetes, I had been through such hell before the official diagnosis that all I felt when I got it was relief.  I’d already went through the shock, denial, and “why me?” when I was diagnosed with Graves Disease.  But when I went into the hospital that day, I was at death’s door and a part of me knew it.  When I found out there was an explanation for it, and that it could be managed with modern medicine, I was happy.  Seriously happy.  Overjoyed.  Every day I was in the hospital, I felt better and better, was able to start taking walks, and it was like I was really living again.  I was so thankful for modern medicine because I knew it had saved my life, despite my ignorance that had nearly snuffed it out.  Modern medicine gave my life back.

That same thankfulness that was overflowing in my heart while I was in the hospital is still with me today.  Because of it, I’ve never dealt with the regrets of diabetes.  It has never felt like a burden to me.  Sure, there have been times when I’ve wished I could just go on vacation without having to tote enough medicine to allow me to live through it.  Sure, I’ve wished I could just eat a piece of chocolate cake without calculating how much insulin I’ll need to take to cover it.  Sure, had terrifying experiences with low blood sugar that brought me closer to death than I’m comfortable with.  But those thoughts are few and far between.  Mostly when I think of my diabetes, I still feel that same thankfulness that I have something that can be managed with modern medicine.  This wasn’t always true, and even when insulin finally began to be used, it was a terrible and painful process to administer it (in earlier times, they used reusable huge glass syringes that they boiled after using!!) and there was no way to monitor blood sugar so there was much more room for error.

So now you know why I have such incredible gratitude for modern medicine.  Despite my pancreas not working, which is something required for my survival, I’m still able to live simply because of the time I live in.  Thank God for modern medicine.

In what ways have you been/are you thankful for modern medicine?  How has it impacted you personally?

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About Veronica

I have a kitchen addiction and love to collect & share recipes. My passion is baking but I love to cook as well. The only thing I don't like to do in the kitchen is wash dishes, but my husband generally does them for me in exchange for his dinner.

31 responses »

  1. I am glad you take better care of yourself!!!!!!!! i would hate to think of the world w/o you!! I am thankful for the people who go to school to be doctors,surgeons,nurses & blood doners. w/o those i wouldnt have my boy’s w/ me today. we have used all of the above & more for them.I thank God for giving those people the passion & ability to practice. Here’s to a year of good health & hopefully wealth-ha.
    Love,joan

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    • Me too, Joan, that was a scary time. I love your thankfulness for doctors, nurses, etc, and I agree! Makes me think of cousin Katrina–I should send her a little thank you today. :)

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  2. wow, that is quite some story, Veronica!!
    I am sooo glad you are still alive today.
    While I am the biggest fan of natural remedies, I am grateful for modern medicine, too. Especially if it is “too late” into a disease, natural stuff is less likely to cut it.

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    • Natural remedies have their place, but for something as serious as this, I really needed Western medicine. Although it is a wonderful testament to the benefits of chiropractic adjustment that it alone put my eyes back into place. If my disease hadn’t gone too far, I think eventually it would have cured me. Spine alignment is the root of all good and bad stuff going on in our bodies and putting it back in place can really help heal us.

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  3. Your Just AMAZING!! What a testimony!! Thank God for your healing!!!Thank you for sharing your story. You never know who might read it, that will get encouraged! Be Blessed!!!!! :)

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  4. Wow, a fasting blood sugar of almost 700! Thank goodness you got help when you did! I agree, diabetes is just part of my life – and while I wish I could just get up and exercise without checking my blood sugar, I know that this IS a manageable disease if you choose to take the time.

    My sister works with a woman who doesn’t like needles – she has yet to take her insulin and her average blood sugars are in the 400s!

    Thanks for sharing your story!!

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  5. It is an amazing story V and a very positive outlook that you have regarding it :) I am thankful too for modern medicine, it keeps my blood pressure in check and keeps me here on earth. Taking pills daily is minor to not being around to see family and friends, it just becomes a habit. I’m also thankful there are meds for Roxy which ease her pain and allows her to be active and enjoy her life :)

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    • I loved reading the ways you’re thankful for modern medicine. I’m thankful for those same reasons! I’m glad it’s keeping you here with us and Roxy has less pain b/c of it.

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  6. Wow Veronica!! Those pictures of you in your unhealthy state are so scary–they make me just want to rush you off to a hospita. I’m so glad you are happy and healthy now–you look it, too!

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  7. You look so good today! What a story, girl! I am thankful that you got the help you need. Modern medicine is definitely something that I am thankful for. I had some major health issues 5 years ago, but this month I will have been in remission for 5 years and thus considered “cured.”

    Glad Dennis wheeled you in and you are still with us!!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing your story. I hope it helps someone who is putting off medical diagnosis because of fear of the unknown.

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  8. I so loved reading that story! You certainly have been through a lot and I applaud you. Bad as those pictures were, I did however like you as a blond. :-)

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  9. That all sounds incredibly scary! You look amazing now.

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  10. Hello Veronica!
    I’ve been reading through your blog lately and I love your stories and recipes. But I must say that this entry really meant to me.
    I’m also diagnosed with Graves Disease, but it’s been only a few months since my doctor first told me about hyperthyroid.
    I really didn’t want to take my pills because I wasn’t really aware of how serious it could get. I’m greatful about what you’ve wrote, because you changed my mind. I need to listen to my Endocrinologist and take the necessary amount of pills I need (for my case, 6 a day).

    You’ve been through a lot and thanks god you got better. You look incredibly healthy now!

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    • Oh my goodness, how heartened I am to know I reached someone in a similar situation and helped! I’m so glad you found this, perhaps God brought you here! Yes, please do listen to your endocrinologist and if you hate taking all those pills, talk to him about radioactive iodine. It sounds scary, but I’m glad I took it, even if I have to take a thyroid pill every day. It beats having a goiter and taking multiple pills daily. I wish you all the best! Stay on top of this!

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  11. You are beautiful and I am so glad you are taking care of yourself…because if you hadn’t, I might not have ever gotten a chance to “meet” you!!

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  12. Veronica, what an amazing, inspirational story, thanks so much for sharing it! All of us need to be grateful for living in such an incredible era in so many ways, even modern dental care is such a gift! I think about the pain many of us would be suffering through on a daily basis without modern dental expertise. Your story is such a great reminder to all of us to be grateful for the small every day blessings we are showered with along with the big ones like health and family – thanks so much!

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  13. Thanks for sharing your story Veronica. Modern medicine is truly amazing. My niece was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 3, but it took nearly 6 months of her being ill to get that diagnosis. She is now 13 and manages her diabetes with an insulin pump and is happy and healthy. But if you think back in the day before insulin was discovered, diabetes was fatal. It’s crazy how much progress has been made in the last century. Your “after” picture is beautiful. You look so radiant! :)

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  14. Wow what a touching story! You are so brave and strong, girl! I usually never comment though I’m always reading but I just had to for this post. I applaud you for cherishing your health now and really taking care of yourself. We need you! I too am so very thankful for modern medicine, because if not I may not have my fiancee with me today… he had testicular cancer that spread to his lymph nodes, so without modern medicine I may not be so lucky to have him today. Thank God for doctors and nurses and hospitals and those who care for the ill! And you look absolutely gorgeous and happy in your after pic :)

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  15. How large was your goiter (in cubuc centimeters) and how long it took to “dissolve” it?

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    • Sorry, I never measured it but remember it seemed to be about the size of two large lemons. After taking the radioactive iodine, I think it was gone within 1-2 months.

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  17. Wow, you look great, and I am glad your feeling better. I have a question. Did you say chiropractic made your eyes go back without surgery? What did he/she treat you for?

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    • Yes, it totally did! I just went to a regular chiropractor who was only “treating” me for my spine being out of alignment. I went three times a week because I needed so much work. He explained that the spine can affect your health if it is out of alignment, and fixing the spine will also make you healthier. I had hoped that it would be enough to fix me completely, but my disease was too far advanced and needed more agressive treatment. The chiropractic adjustment will first help with the symptoms of a disease/illness, like my bulging eyes, and can eventually cure it but I just didn’t have any more time to wait and see if that would happen. It took about 6 months for my eyes to go back in without any other treatment or surgery.

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  20. I think we are not stretching it at all to say you are a walking miracle! Thanks for sharing your amazing story and testimony. No doubt, God will use it to minister to others. You are so beautiful today, one would never guess the mess you’ve been through with your health issues.

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  21. happyhappyhippy

    Veronica, thank you for sharing your story so truthfully!

    I suffered a massive stroke 9.8.07. I was suffering from AbFib caused by Graves Disease. My endocronologist had never seen such high thyroid hormones levels and to this day he uses me as an example of how ‘naughty’ a thyroid can be! I had to relearn how to walk and talk and read and write. I had a six month old granddaughter at the time. When he asked me if I had any grandchildren, I started to sob. I remembered that I had a granddaughter and that I loved her to the moon and back, but I could not remember her name. I was devastated! My little princess (Jade) is now 7 years old and I am one grateful granny!

    We had been trying to regulate my thyroid with pills ever since my stroke. I was going for blood tests at least every 3 months, sometimes more often and it was not working despite trying up and down doses. I had radioactive iodine in 2011 and it did not work, so in the spring of 2012 I took my endo’s advice and had a total thyroidectomy. I am very fortunate and blessed that my endo is totally on my side and I credit God, my endo and my family for my health. On the 8th of September, 2014, I will celebrate my 7th birthday of my new life as I know it. It is a totally different life than I had always planned on, but I wouldn’t change a thing! Everything I have been through makes me who I am today. God is so faithful to provide all we need! God bless you and yours!

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