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  The Kelly G. Ripken Program  


Kelly's Story

Kelly RipkenAt 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."