Today marks my one year anniversary of receiving the diagnosis of Graves’ disease.  What a year it’s been.  Here’s an annual summary:

Physically: I’m doing well.  I am able to have normal thyroid levels on medication.  With too much medication, I swing to hypothyroidism.  With too little, I have hyperthyroidism.  I don’t know for sure what my levels are until I get a blood test.  I give a blood sample every 6-8 weeks.  Since September 25, 2012, I have had 10 blood tests.  And I hate needles.  I cannot bear watching them take my blood, let alone watch them even gather the needle and other supplies.  The three medical assistants I’ve had all take blood differently.  I really liked how Nicole did it, but she no longer works at my doctor’s office.  Sad.  I’ve taken up to 4 pills a day, gone down to taking one, and am now on a different medication, taking 2 pills twice a day.  My symptoms are about 95% gone; I still have eye symptoms – excess tearing and am sensitive to sun light.  My metabolism/eating habits have returned to my baseline and my weight has fluctuated slightly (up and down).

Emotionally: I am doing alright.  I am less irritable now that my symptoms are managed.  I sleep better, so I am more rested.  I know what is wrong with me so I am more at peace with it.  I did have a realization one summer night that because of how one boss treated me and the stress it caused me, I now have to live with a lifelong disease.  I do truly believe that.  And it hit me hard one night.  It doesn’t hang over me constantly, but it will be something I have to slowly process.

Relationally:  My family and friends are wonderful.  It has been interesting to talk about my health with my dad who has GIST (a rare GI cancer).  We discuss our blood tests and meds and it’s just given me a “closer” experience with him.  In no way is my Graves’ as serious as his GIST, but talking about our health together as we live it together has been a bittersweet way to connect.  Friends have been a blessing – asking me how I am and praying for me.  I am not ashamed by my disease and am glad to share my story and ask for prayer.  You guys are such a comfort.  And Will, he’s been a loving husband.   We have had to have some difficult conversations regarding life-changing choices and had to have those conversations months, even years, in advance.  Earlier this spring, we had to seriously discuss whether I should get surgery to remove my thyroid gland.  That conversation was not easy – we had to think short and long term and discuss the very-real consequences of that decision (good and bad).  We have also had to very concretely think about and plan (the best we can) our future and our future family.  THAT was SUPER hard.  But by God’s grace to give us patience, we talked and shared our fears and expectations.  Will, you have been a loving husband, listening to me and holding me when I needed it.  You’ve spoken truth to me and asked the right questions.  I am glad God put you in my life, especially during this past year.

Spiritually: There have been many changes this past year, a new job, new small groups, buying a house, and serving at Highrock in new ways.  And through all the change, God is constant. He has been good to me.  He has blessed me with a strong community.  I have met good, faithful women who have loved me and genuinely cared about me and for me.  I have a consistent prayer partner who has shared her life with me for the past 7 years or so that has allowed me to share monthly updates and prayers.  I have a spiritual friend and mentor who has intentionally surrounded me with wisdom and love.  God has been reminding me for the last 11 years that my plan is not the best.  That I do not have enough wisdom to decide what I need or will need.  He’s reminded me that whatever He places in front of me that He will provide the peace required to face it.   I did not choose Graves’ and never ever would have.  But God knows that even with this disease, I will be okay.  He will provide all I need – doctors, medications, a support system, Christian community, answered prayer, and healing.

To close: A verse I learned the fall of my freshman year in my women’s small group at Boston University and has ever since been my life-verse:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7