How are you feeling? The socially exceptable response is “Ok”. Even when I’m not “Ok”. Because with two chorionic progressive autoimmune diseases, I am by definition, always sick. Unless of course ... no one really cares about the answer. Or I redefine normal to the state of being one is in when living with two chronic progressive diseases. So maybe today, I’m just “Ok”.

I’m having another wonderful day with the effects of Graves Disease. This morning, I woke up feeling bloated. When I look in the mirror, I see pregnant man. I don’t remember when I went to bed last night -- sometime after the end of Fear the Walking Dead. I woke up around 5AM and could not get back to sleep. I woke up feeling anxious.

I tried the meditation app this morning but it did not help with symptoms and only alleviated my anxiety for a few minutes. I guess three minutes is better than none.

I drank 887ml of water this morning. I drank about 1892mL per day over the weekend. It seemed to help with symptoms especially with my eyes. However, this morning I feel pressure behind my eyes; again. To my co-workers I must look like shit.

My endocronologist says the disease waxes and wanes but it seems to be “waxing” right now.

Graves' Disease - A Man's Perspective | GDATF by an author (gdatf.org)

I was a Naval reservist and had to go in for a routine physical. The ship’s corpsman noticed my resting heart beat was one hundred and ten beats per minute. He sent me over to the Naval hospital for an EKG and to be evaluated by a doctor. A corpsman took my EKG and asked me if I was feeling OK. I said sure, no problems! I was told to rest ten minutes and they would do another EKG. Ten minutes later, they came back and found me asleep on the table. Talk about resting! They did the EKG again and my heart rate was one hundred and twenty beats a minute. Next thing I know, I am on a table in the ER, stripped down to my skivvies with doctors shining lights in my eyes and poking every conceivable part of my body. The doctor wanted to admit me into intensive care because he thought I was on my way to a thyroid storm and I could get very sick, very fast. The man got my attention. I told him there was no way they were going to put me into the hospital (doing my male thing again). I explained to the doctor that I was a reservist and if he put me into the hospital, they would have to put me on active duty. The doctor listened to my concern about being in the hospital and said “Mister, money doesn’t matter if you’re dead.” Once again he got my attention.

I had my first thyroid storm last weekend.

This photo sums up how I’ve felt recently. Exhausted, beaten down, feeling despair, depressive, highly emotional, and generally not well physically and emotionally.

I am under the care of a great endocrinologist, but until my Grave’s disease is under control, it has taken a toll. It affects my ability to work effectively. Now that I work in Manhattan part of the week and commute a little further into New Jersey for work, the stress on my psyche and body has been taking a toll.

The work itself isn’t stressful. It’s a commute to New York City. It’s two and a half hours from my door to the front door of the office building in lower Manhattan. Two trains (NJT and PATH) and one ferry. With my body hustling the whole time. Push my way past the other human cattle to maybe get a seat. If not, I'm standing for the entire 45 minutes express train ride to Newark Penn Station to catch the PATH. Exit NJT and hustle squeeze through the turnstile to catch the PATH to Exchange Place. The PATH Train is the worst. I never get a seat. I stand there packed in like a sardine with some sick asshole coughing on my neck. I feel like taking a shower from the filth of humanity all over me. I get to work, and my back is in pain. It’s an open plan seating space so I can’t put my feet up and I can’t escape to my car to close my eyes for 15 minutes.

Grave’s disease is playing havoc with emotions as well. I can go from laughing to anxious and sadness (sometimes despair) all within a few hours. I have little control over this. It just happens, and once it’s done, I feel emotionally drained.

I sleep but don't feel rested. I haven't had a restful night of sleep in over a month.

I am slower than I used to be. I don’t have the energy for activities that I normally enjoy — hiking and photography. Even family events like birthday parties and BBQ in the backyard are not enjoyable.

I finally broke down, crying while getting ready to drive to work on Friday. Bhavna took me to the E.R. where a battery of blood test revealed that due to interactions between some of the medications I was taken — most likely triggered by stress — I had early-stage hypertension. My blood pressure was high and trending higher. I was put on an I.V. drip, given a Percocet for the pain, monitored for several hours and sent home with strict instructions to discontinue my medication until I could see my primary physician and endocrinologist.

I must admit I was scared. And my poor wife sat next to me the whole time stressing out.

I am feeling better today. But not great. Not 100%. Not my usual self. I’ve lost control of my body. Perhaps that’s another stress point. With Type 1 diabetes, with testing and diet, I feel I have some control. With Grave’s, I have no way to test if things are improving or worsening. I have to do a blood test every six to eight weeks in a lab and wait 48 hours for the results. It’s not ideal. I’ve also had more years of practice managing my Type 1 diabetes.

I discussed buying a blood pressure monitor with Bhavna or at least taking a trip to CVS to test my blood pressure at least once a week.

It’s Sunday, and I am already dreading going back to work on Monday.

In the meantime, I am doing what I can — breathing in — breathing out. It’s all the control I have.