At that point, I started just picking names of doctors out of provider books, desperate to find someone who would know what was happening. Then finally, in 1990, I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, which is an autoimmune disorder, and it causes hyperthyroidism. That was the cause of so many of my symptoms, and I was so grateful to finally have some answers.
Two and a half years later, I won my first Olympic gold medal. And I thought, ‘hey, I’m starting to get my life back on track.’ But, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
My Graves’ disease was under control, but the eye issues continued—bulging, pain, redness, grainy vision. I remember asking other people on the track if the hurdles were blurry to them, because they were always so blurry to me. I describe it as looking through fascia, that’s how distorted my vision was.
But I thought: Who am I to complain? I got my life back. I am very fortunate to have gone to five Olympic Games and win medals. So even when my eye symptoms didn’t clear up or get any better (and at times even got worse) I thought: This must just be my new state of normal, and I just have to deal with it.