Eyes on Graves’: Ron and Vickie’s Story

Ron: I’m Ron. I have Graves’ disease and thyroid eye disease. I was in law enforcement for 33
years, simultaneously in the military reserves for 27. Vickie: We’ve been married for
28 years, we were both in the Coast Guard reserves. Ron: As a police officer, I periodically would have some blurred vision, a little bit of dizziness. One day, I looked in the mirror and my right eye was completely as far as it would go toward
my nose and looking upward. I was horrified. I was panicked. I didn’t know what it meant. Vickie: So I said we do need to go get this checked out because obviously
something’s wrong. Ron: The bulging and movement of the eyeballs was compressing my optic nerves. There was some question as to whether I would go completely blind. Not a lot of people knew what was happening initially, and then ultimately,
an endocrinologist said, “Yes I know what’s wrong with you.” To save my vision and prevent me from
going completely blind, they had to perform a fairly immediate surgery, and
they did the first of six surgeries. Living with thyroid eye disease
certainly has its challenges. I had to rely on Vickie, either to get me to and
from work or to get me to the bus stop. Vickie: My take-charge husband having to rely on me and other people when that was not in his personality, which increased his
frustration. Ron: I was not allowed on a public bus one time because I couldn’t read the destination above the driver’s windshield, and I asked him, “Does this bus go to so-and-so?” And he said, “Read the thing.” I said, “I can’t.” He says, “Well, then
get off the bus.” I said, “I can’t read it because I am legally blind,” which I was. There was
no bus ride for me that day. My blurred vision and such deteriorated to the
extent I knew I could not perform on patrol duty. The chief and the captain
had me turn over my weapon and suddenly I can no longer do the things that cops do. There are days when my eyes will start
to cross or wander around, and I’ll have dizziness, blurred vision, but I
absolutely refuse to be a victim. For anyone who is suddenly having an onset of blurred vision, please don’t wait. Don’t take chances. Contact an
endocrinologist and an ophthalmologist, both of whom are experienced with
thyroid eye disease and Graves’. Vickie: And I would add that even if you don’t know that those are symptoms of Graves’ or the onset of thyroid eye disease, if you are
having symptoms that are significant, and double-vision is definitely a
significant symptom of something, don’t just pass it off as I’m tired. Ron: Vickie has meant everything to me. All is not lost, it’s just the beginning of a journey
that can still be a pretty good journey. Vickie: We just don’t let any of the good days or bad days stop us from doing anything.

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