one of the happiest moments of her life, when Kelly Geer and Baltimore
Oriole infielder Cal Ripken started talking about marriage, a shadow
settled over Kelly that wouldn't let up.
It began with a tormenting, around-the-clock headache; it took
an exasperating two years to get to the root of the problem; and
it has taken Kelly a decade to make peace with it.
Kelly Ripken had Graves' disease, a condition characterized by
an overactive thyroid gland that causes the body's metabolism to
speed up. Besides the unrelenting headache, she couldn't sleep and
felt irritable. Her appetite increased, every morning she ate an
entire box of chocolate donuts, yet lost 25 pounds. Kelly was tested
for brain tumors, Hodgkins' disease, lupus, received cortisone shots
in her neck for a supposed cervical injury, even had all four of
her wisdom teeth extracted.
"I felt terrible," she recalls. "Your body is running
so fast and it won't rest. There were days when I thought, Today's
the day I'm going to go out of my mind." Finally, some dozen
physicians and two dozen medications later, Kelly was correctly
diagnosed through a simple blood test and began treatment to bring
her hyperthyroidism under control.
"I told myself that when I found out what was wrong, I was
never going to feel that way again if I could help it," she
says today. "The most important part of this disease is education.
The more you know about it, the better you're going to be."