Post count: 1324

    Hi, Tracey:

    I do not know the answer to all of your questions, but I can try to shine a bit of light on the one about stress. Stress is known to cause illness in everyone. It does not matter if it is good stress (like having a baby) or bad stress (losing a loved one) or job stress or whatever. Stress puts the body under siege and we often get ill — colds, flus etc. come much more easily to us in times of stress.

    It has been suggested (as a working hypothesis) that "major life stress" can be a trigger for Graves. Many of us can point to a specific major stress issue in our lives right before we became symptomatic. For example, I first became aware of symptoms as we were rebuilding our house after Hurricane Andrew. But, not all of us. So, it’s not necessarily a "cause" (there probably has to be a genetic predisposition), but it may be a catalyst for the active phase of the disease.

    Now a caution: When some people hear that stress is a contributing factor to the development of Graves (or other diseases), they start beating themselves up, thinking/saying things like "I should have handled the stress better….." or words to that effect. Don’t go there. You did not do this to yourself. Everybody goes through stressful situations — all the time. Fretting about not feeling stress when you are in a situation where it is perfectly normal to be stressed only puts you under MORE stress. It is, sometimes, possible to take better care of yourself during times of stressful times. For example, we’re heading into the holidays which is a good example of "good" stress for most of us. But, when you are ill to begin with, it pays to prioritize, conserve energy as much as possible, and work out ways (in advance) to ENJOY the holidays not wear yourself out. We can make sure to get some exercise (which relieves stresses), get more sleep, etc. But we cannot, ever, avoid stress altogether. And sometimes, as in the illness or death of a loved one, we simply have to go through the awful time rather full of stress.

    So, take a deep breath, and try to not to fret too much about what you still do not know. If your doctor does confirm the Graves diagnosis, know that it can be a hugely positive thing. Graves is very treatable.

    I do hope you are feeling better soon,
    Bobbi – Online Facilitator