Hold control (command on a Mac) and press the + key as many times as necessary to increase the font size.
Hold control (command on a Mac) and press the - key to reduce the font size. - hide

An Open Letter to Husbands of Graves' Patients



by David Bos

Dear Husband of Graves’, This letter is to all of us who are or were married to someone with Graves’ disease. It is a letter from my heart as I know of no other way to talk about it. If in some way it speaks to those of you who are now struggling or have struggled with the loneliness, the frustration at the lack of answers, the inability to help the ones you love, having to make major decisions without your partner, or going through the pain of divorce because of a disease very few understand and fewer still can relate to, then it will have been worth exhuming painful memories that time was mercifully putting to rest.

I’ve heard that the divorce rate skyrockets when someone has Graves’ disease. I am not surprised. This disease works to challenge every reason you had for being married and forces you insidiously to get to the bottom line – that a marriage exists only because you are willing to remain committed to your partner, regardless of anything else.

In a lot of ways my wife and I were fortunate; she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease after approximately nine months, at least that is the closest she and I can pin point when she began to first experience the symptoms we now associate with Graves’. During that time, however, while I always knew my wife loved me, frequently who I was married to was not my wife.

One aspect was the mood swings, the unexpected outbursts of anger and accusation, the unexplainable crying. This took the most work for me to deal with emotionally. I know I unintentionally do or say things that irritate her from time to time. But when compared with how we usually handled these issues, the anger of crying was out of proportion to the crime and it came with no warning. Unfortunately, I found myself putting up a wall between us for protection and I hated the estrangement. I became increasingly on guard when with her. I didn’t want to be hurt. We’ve been married many years and she knew me well enough to know how to get in deep with her accusations. I detested the alienation but felt caught in a “Catch 22”– be on guard to mitigate the hurt and loose the closeness in the relationship. Remain open and get hurt. Fortunately the outbursts happened and then quickly dissipated but only recently has “being on guard” begun to melt.

Another was the feelings of impotence; being powerless to change the circumstances regardless of what you did. I’ve always thought my wife was beautiful and while she is attractive physically, her beauty to me has always had little to do with her looks. I enjoy the way she thinks and what she thinks about. When we talk, I learn something. I enjoy watching her meet people. I love hearing her laugh and am frequently in amazement at her ability to laugh regardless of the circumstances. Together we’ve been through some amazing challenges in life. Her indomitable spirit is what got us through them. While she was going through the worst of the disease, Graves’ took all of that away. All I could do was stand by and watch. Nothing I did changed anything.

She had constant headaches from morning to night and over-the-counter medications didn’t help. She hurt every time she blinked her eyes. Her feet were frequently so swollen they wouldn’t fit in her shoes. The puffiness around her eyes and “bug-eyed” appearance was uncomfortable for others to see. My chest ached as I watched people who previously were attracted by her vivacious personality now avoid her altogether or talked with her in a stilted fashion. I watched her withdraw. I was watching the love of my life shrivel and die while being imprisoned in the role of bystander. All I could do was hold her and cry with her when the unrelenting discomfort got to be too much.

Three and one-half years have now gone by and the nightmare has finally come to a close. The disease went through its cycle and stabilized. My wife has now had corrective surgery to repair much of the physical damage of the disease. She still sleeps with a strip of plastic wrap over her eyes to keep them from drying out during the night and her feet are still swollen although less so. Mostly she has returned to living with that special brand of vitality which I so love. She is laughing again.

Where do you turn when your whole world is turned upside down? How do you cope with a situation of changing emotions, many questions, few answers and no idea when it will all end, if ever? While I survived Graves’ disease, I don’t think I took particularly good care of myself emotionally during this time. I mostly did my “guy thing”; I didn’t talk about it to anyone. It didn’t seem appropriate to talk to my wife, my usual confidante. She already had a full plate without my “stuff”. What about talking to other men? Mostly I didn’t. Occasionally I would talk about the topic when I was desperate and someone asked. But mostly, while I found some willing listeners among my friends, those times were never particularly satisfying. They would sympathize but had little or no experience with which to relate. This whole issue of “where does the husband of Graves’ go for help” is one area I now know I would do differently. I would take the time to find other men in the same predicament and I would talk to them. If nothing else, I would know I was not alone.

Sincerely,

David Bos

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Editor’s Note: David is the husband of Bonnie Bos, Indiana and Kentucky State Director.

Download as a PDF.

Recent News

Recent Forum Posts

  • Graves, hyperthyroidism, thyrodectomy, eye problems

    June 13, 2019, 4:39 a.m.

    Thyroidectomy does make it much less likely to get the eye disease, but it does happen. Having had TED and...

  • Orbital Decompression

    June 11, 2019, 5:52 p.m.

    Thank you! I appreciate your help.

  • t3 and t4 in range, TSH low

    June 11, 2019, 3:17 p.m.

    the T4 and T3 may still be within the normal range ?

  • Graves, hyperthyroidism, thyrodectomy, eye problems

    June 11, 2019, 8:46 a.m.

    Hello and welcome - perhaps your fiance is related to Sir Robert Graves, an Irish physician who was one of...

  • Graves, hyperthyroidism, thyrodectomy, eye problems

    June 9, 2019, 6:35 p.m.

    Hi all! I’m so glad I finally found a support forum! So I’m 1 year post surgery of having my thyroid out. My...

  • Orbital Decompression

    June 7, 2019, 3:12 p.m.

    I had my orbital decompressions done by Dr Douglas at Kellogg Eye in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We met his fellow,...

  • Orbital Decompression

    June 7, 2019, 1:16 p.m.

    Kimberly, After going through and understanding all of the billing for my orbital decompression - I don't...

  • Orbital Decompression

    May 28, 2019, 5:45 a.m.

    Hi there - I am in the same boat as you. I have not scheduled as I am also waiting for more information about...

  • Blood Pressure problems and Graves Disease

    May 26, 2019, 8:14 a.m.

    Once my hyperthyroidism was resolved with thyroidectomy, I have had no BP issues. However, long before...

  • Blood Pressure problems and Graves Disease

    May 25, 2019, 4:47 p.m.

    Hi all, It's been awhile since I posted. I had GD with TED. Diagnosed in 2016, eye surgeries in 2017 with...

  • Orbital Decompression

    May 24, 2019, 4:28 p.m.

    Hello and welcome - Pricing is a real challenge for any procedure, as there can be huge swings between the...

  • Orbital Decompression

    May 24, 2019, 4:25 p.m.

    Hello, I am scheduling orbital decompression with Dr. Raymond Douglas. His office states that he does not...

  • Patient Education Event in Seattle on June 30th!

    May 21, 2019, 2:27 p.m.

    Please join us for a special patient education event at the Crowne Plaza Seattle Airport! Hear the latest...

  • Mood Swing

    May 17, 2019, 6:19 p.m.

    Hello - This video from Dr. Ira Lesser will hopefully shed some light behind the *why* of the mood issues....

  • Mood Swing

    May 15, 2019, 7:45 p.m.

    Hi all, I love being around people. I love to smile and being helpful as much as I could. However, often...

Questions? Problems? Please contact us at [email protected] or 877-643-3123.

GDATF on Facebook

Support the GDATF and become a member today!

© 2019 Graves' Disease & Thyroid Foundation