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Bright, boiling hot days spent in the backyard. Heavenly, refreshing water against sun-kissed skin. All the time in the world to enjoy a lovely summer. When schools release students for the three-month long break, the first plans of the warm season are set in motion. There is a scramble to the movies, pools, malls, and airports. I was fast asleep. As soon as I finished my sophomore year, I went home to sleep, which is not uncommon for a teenager. We like to sleep. Sleep is good. We would gladly trade the kindergarteners their naptime for our standardized testing. However, I woke up feeling tired still. My summer constituted of this, 16 hours asleep per day.
Blood work instead of movies with friends. Doctors’ visits instead of cooking out by the pool. In the summer of 2012, I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, Graves’, a form of hyperthyroidism. My body began attacking itself to produce more of the thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism. I lost weight because my body burned through food so quickly. Manic episodes and ravenous hunger followed by extreme fatigue were more symptoms that I experienced.
After I had an allergic reaction to a medicine that was supposed to inhibit the production of metabolic hormones, my parents gave consent to have my thyroid ablated via radioactive iodine. I spent the last week of summer alone and in my room due to my radioactivity. It was quarantine.
Over time, the lack of hormone production changed my symptoms, changed my diagnosis to hypothyroidism. I began an arduous journey of finding a satisfactory dosage of faux hormones to keep me awake and aware. It was when I had memory loss, hair falling out, sensitivity to cold, and weight gain that I began to get angry. Why did my health have to come first? Why did I have to put my plans on hold for a while in order to get this settled?
A couple of months into the New Year, my levels evened out, and my doctor found a good dose of medicine. I was back to normal yet far from it. Through this tumultuous rollercoaster of illness, my desire to become a doctor solidified, and my passion grew. The challenge it set up for me almost knocked me completely down, unable to see the light leading out. However, my determination for success allowed me to grow from the difficulty. My plans depend on good health. Later on, when I am a practicing doctor, my own health could affect my patients. My experience with an autoimmune disease has taught me this.
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