KATIE SCHWARTZ, EDITOR: GRAVES' DISEASE AND GRAVES' OPTHAMOLOGY DIVA, OR SO SHE LIKES TO THINK


Katie is the author of Emotionally Pantsed, forthcoming from So New Publishing in 08’. EP is her debut collection of non-fiction humor essays about her life and many mistakes; until her world was turned upside down by Graves’ disease for six-years, the impetus that sent her into weekly shrinkdating sessions with her psychiatrist Shrinktail.

Her essays have been featured in Ostrich Ink, Monkeybicycle, Dirty Humor Issue #5, Farmhouse Magazine "Winner of the 2006 Editor's Choice Awards, Girlistic Magazine, Opium Magazine, Katie Schwartz on Amy Guth, Tastes like Chicken and 6S, among others publications. Many of her essays have debuted at Comedy Central’s Sit-n-Spin. Katie recently read one of her essays from EP at The Fixx Reading Series and was fortunate enough to speak on some pretty groovy writerly panels at the Pilcrow Lit Fest in Chicago. You can read her daily rants about life, love—or lack thereof and social commentary at her Blog, All the Way from Oy to Vey. Or check out her website, KatieSchwartz.com.

Katie has had Graves’ disease for six-years and a rare variation of Graves’ ophthalmology for three-years. Thanks to modern medicine, the gift that keeps on giving (okay that was bitter); she went undiagnosed for three-years, until one day when her eyelids swelled up like balloons. Sending her vision from 20/20 to I’m fucking blind. Dozens of ophthalmologists couldn’t figure out what made her eyelids swell. Off she went to an internist who specialized in rare and infectious diseases. He checked her vital organs and her thyroid and deemed her normal!

Katie spent the next year dating dozens of doctors and specialists (she did get fondled and felt up, so it counts). Though nobody was able to connect her severe psychological and physical symptoms, including that pesky eyelid issue, she was given numerous drug cocktails; all exacerbated her symptoms and made her sicker. Two-years ago, she went to the Jules Stein Eye Institute and was given the diagnosis of Graves’ Ophthalmology. JS referred her to an endocrinologist who diagnosed her with Graves’ disease.

As luck would have it, she discovered that her internist, who gave her a normal-stamp-of-approval, lied. That and she had an adverse reaction to the treatment the new endocrinologist dispensed called Tapezole. Within a year of being on T-hell, she became borderline thyroid psychotic and thyrotoxicosis.

Her loving and wonderful mother and sister saved her life by extreme measures and took her to a new an endocrinologist with a very aggressive approach (love letter forthcoming). That endodaddy saved her life. He almost took it again, too, but that’s a forthcoming hate letter.

As of May 25th, 2008, Katie has a normal thyroid. She will continue seeing her endocrinologist (forthcoming love letter) every month for at least six months and will keep you posted on her progress. Her Graves’ eye specialist said that once her thyroid is stable for six-months, her eyelids should come down and her vision should improve. If not, Katie might be a candidate for a non-invasive procedure. Again, she will keep you looped.

Katie continues to see Shrinktail (forthcoming love letter).

Katie’s insurance company broke up with her immediately following her diagnosis. Ultimately, she did get insurance, just not private insurance (hate letter forthcoming).

It’s been a hell of a journey—literally.

Katie wanted to create Dear Thyroid because at the height of her sickness, overwhelmed by fear, anger and isolation, she wrote hate letters to her thyroid. In hindsight, it became cathartic. And she wondered if other thyroid patients felt similarly or would be interested in having a space to share their letters, too. I wanted to co-edit and co-develop this epistolary series with QuinnA and FreidaBee for countless reasons. My co-editors are fabulous, insightful, brilliant, beautiful women who have walked the thyroid mile in different ways. I'm excited about working with them. They courageously shared their stories with me and offered invaluable support. They are as passionate about creating awareness regarding thyroid issues that plague us, as I am. DrugMonkey was also quite instrumental in Katie's thyroid debacle as well, and offered lots of advice and support.

With thyroid diseases, often times, doctors don’t know how to connect our symptoms dots, or so it seemed from my perspective. Few people know what a thyroid does, or where it’s located, or how deadly this seemingly benign butterfly gland can be.

We wanted to create a space for all of us to write love letters and hate letters to our thyroids, those who healed us, and hurt us along the way and to create camaraderie.

Don't be shy, send us your Dear Thyroid yarn. We’ll be posting each and every one.

Love,
Katie

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2 Comments:

Blogger Madam Z said...

Dear, dear Katie! Compared to what you went through, my Graves Disease was a walk in the park! How did you ever get through such horror? One thing I don't understand about your post is why you felt ashamed about your sickness? It certainly wasn't your fault! Shit happens, Katie, and there's nothing we can do about it. I'm so glad you finally got properly diagnosed and treated. It's tragic that it took so long, but you just need to look forward now, and not back. Once your eyes return to normal it will be a lot easier to put it behind you.

I love your "Dear Thyroid" idea, because it's a way we women with thyroid issues can share and commiserate with one another.

Mazel tov, Katileh.

July 19, 2008 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Katie Schwartz said...

Oh, MadamZ, You are a doll.

I think both of us suffered gravely and wish neither of us had to endure what we went through with g-raves.

I don't know where the shame comes from, but it's intense and very real. I need to extricate it from my soul, I know that. You are right, I need to look forwards, not backwards. I'm seeing a psychiatrist who specializes in thyroid disease in order to achieve that.

Eight weeks after the RIT, I sort of came out of a thyroid induced brain freeze. I had all of the mental manifestations of Graves. When I learned about how I treated the people I was closest too, it just broke my fucking heart. Compounding that, I was ashamed. I know it wasn't my fault. Still. I felt terrible shame about some of the things I'd done and what I'd put my family through. Intellectually, I know it's not my fault. My heart hasn't quite synced up.

I am working on it. I also agree with you regarding my eyes. I think once my eyes return to normal and as the weight loss continues, I will look and feel more like me.

I'm so happy you love "Dear Thyroid". We women need to commiserate and spin our yarns.

Lots of love, doll-
Katie

July 21, 2008 at 9:26 PM  

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