Dan Collins, Thyroid Thrivers
48 years young
Diagnosed in 2005
Well, I’m not sure where to start with my long and undiagnosed, crazy Graves trip, but here I go….
I have always been a high beta, ADD type of person, as far back as I can remember. I was always doing more than one thing, at a time. Always!
As I have progressed down this disease path and learned more and more, I would say that my Graves Disease started in 1995, when my gallbladder just up and died. It completely stopped functioning. Eventually, I got that sucker removed.
Additionally, my moods and anger grew rapidly, at that point. Looking back, I realize that my focus obviously shifted exponentially, as well! I was running 13 offices and 166 Financial Planners and I said ‘adios’ to all of that, to enter into the Tattoo world. Random, I know. But, I could draw and I enjoyed it.
I got divorced from my second wife in 2001 and moved to Pheonix, Arizona….wait, isn’t that part of a song?
Again with the knowledge I have now, in regards to the symptoms that those of us with Graves Disease sometimes have, my “bi-polar” moods were apparently part of the reason for my sudden, ‘corporate world’ departure. And, probably for all of my divorces, too!
My health was really failing, my mental capacity was subpar and I was not well, a lot of the time. I should have had a VIP pass, since I was constantly in and out of the ER with tachycardia, EKG’s and anxiety. The emergency room was a revolving door for me…they tried EVERYTHING! I was put on Paxil and I even tried Depokote. There were also counseling sessions, but all to no avail.
I ‘m very regretful in so many ways, but also grateful that my wives stayed with me, as long as they did.
My second wife tried living with me and staying married to me, despite my mood swings and erratic behavior, for 15 years. Wife number 3, thankfully gave me 12 years. The old saying “Sometimes, enough is enough!” rang true for them all and they couldn’t take it anymore. Truly, I don’t blame them one bit.
By August 2005, I was having uncontrollable shakes and tremors. I had lost 50 lbs. in 4 weeks and thought it was due to all the walking I was doing. Ha! Then, it happened. I’ll never forget it and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was approximately 10 o’clock in the morning and my heart just ‘kicked into rapid fire’! At that moment, I remembered the movie, “Alien”, when the creature from another world bursts through the guys chest. It felt just like that memory of the movie scene. My boss sent me home.
As I walked the short, four blocks, to get to my apartment, I clutched my chest and thought to myself, “this is it, this is how I go, I’m having a heart attack!”
I was taken to a hospital in Tempe, and they performed numerous tests. Nothing. As I was about to be discharged, yet again, with a pocket full of Benzos and calming agents, a resident mentioned, “hey, let’s test his thyroid.” That resident saved my life!!!!
When they came in to tell me about my thyroid and Graves Disease, I laughed. I had heard of thyroid issues, but that was my grandmothers issue. Apparently, I had dangerously gone into a ‘Thyroid Storm’ The decided I needed to be sent to another, more capable hospital. On the way, I can remember being way more concerned with my heart, than anything else, much less this ‘Graves thyroid thing.’
Immediately, they admitted me to the ICU. The endocrinologist, Dr. Shadmany came in to tell my current wife and I that there was a 50/50 % chance I would NOT pull through. They were trying everything they could to slow my heart down, including, feeding me 240 mgs of Propranolol and 6 mgs of Xanax. In a daze, I asked them to just take it out, take it out. They replied that I would ‘stroke out’ and highly advised against it. Finally and thankfully, my heart did calm down and I came out on the other end.
On my 40th birthday, November 2005, I swallowed the pill that changed my life forever. (RAI)
Going on 9 years now, I have suffered from TED, tiredness, brain fog, no motivation and 2 visits into rehab from the Benzos that they kept giving me. I’m finally sober now, 19 months, as of 9/11/14. I’ve inadvertently destroyed numerous relationships, from all the rage. But, I am a fighter. I’ve finally calmed down and feel more balanced. I know that I was given a second chance on life and I’m not going to ruin it on anger or wasted time.
I’m a Graves Gladiator, spreading awareness and offering hope to others, now, lifting them up and helping them realize the need to fight. You only live once. I’m involved in getting the newest information out there and also, trying to share coping mechanisms, to all that will listen.
Being a man with a thyroid disease is a weird and uncommon thing, it seems. For Graves Disease, there is only a 3% chance that men will get it. I’ve also heard as low as 2% of men have Graves.
I thank a group on Facebook called Graves Disease. They helped me learn what we all need to know and be made aware of. And, a special thank you to their founder, Gina Lopes Langone. They have filled my life with common sense and respect. I know I will forever need Synthroid, among other things. Not to mention, my poor heart is now dinged from my long, overdue diagnosis of Graves Disease.
I have to admit, my spirit is shaken, but it is not beaten or broken. I know helping others will help me even more along my Graves journey. I look forward to hearing from other sufferers and any more that I can help, on my weekly podcast, Facebook page, Facebook Group and Follow us on Twitter. Graves Disease will not take us down! I’m pretty lucky and pretty grateful that Karma, GOD, Higher Power, whatever there is, gave this journey to me and TAUGHT me the lessons that I needed to learn.
Peace on us all!
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