“I went through a year of being very sick and nobody could figure out what was happening.”
Alexis, a 35-year-old teacher, remembers 2012 as the year she was hospitalized for three weeks for tremors, rapid heartbeat, and dehydration. No one could figure out what was wrong. When she returned to work, her health had deteriorated so much that even her students noticed something was wrong.
Shortly after that, she happened to go in to get her annual eye exam. She explained her symptoms to her eye doctor, Keith Smithson, OD at Northern Virginia Doctors of Optometry. As a result of the comprehensive eye exam, Dr. Smithson suspected Alexis might have an issue with her thyroid and recommended Alexis see her primary care physician urgently.
A thyroid ultrasound and blood work led to a diagnosis of Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid gland. The thyroid can affect the function of most of the body’s organs, including the heart. Alexis shared that her doctors said her condition was quite serious. In fact, they said if it hadn’t been caught when it was, she could have had a heart attack and even died.
Alexis is thankful for her eye doctor and that a routine eye exam played such a critical role in her health. She reflects on being able to open up and share her symptoms with her eye doctor, “Because I had been going to Dr. Smithson for so long and had that relationship, it really helped me to feel comfortable.”
Now healthy and looking back at her experience, Alexis is grateful she had the support of her eye doctor in helping her get the care she needed.
Watch Alexis’ story: