The Life I Knew Changed with Myasthenia Gravis

I am writing this letter on my own behalf. I feel it is necessary although not common yet for patients to be advocates for themselves in these situations. I am an honest person, a wife for ten years, mother of two children eight and ten, college graduate with honors, a loyal employee, and U.S. citizen. I have gone through dramatic changes in the last four years. I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis when I was approximately 23 years old, in spite of this autoimmune neuromuscular disease I finished college while working full time.

Upon graduation I became a surgical/ medical instrument representative for a well know company. This job required me to travel, sometimes a great distance, on an almost daily basis. Prior to September 2014 I had Myasthenia Gravis, with daily symptoms and worked fulltime. At that time, I didn’t realize I was pushing my body too hard, therefore suffering physically and my Myasthenia Gravis (MG) not improving. There were times I couldn’t speak and would have to cancel appointments, I didn’t entertain clients where food was involved as chewing food was difficult at times or I would have to use the restroom multiple times due to rapid transition of the bowels, a side effect for me from the mestinon.

Somedays my body wouldn’t move well or my fingers at all, somedays I would get sick and it would take weeks to recover. I would then have to cancel appointments again. My life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt in September of 2014 when I had an MG crisis and was put on life support in hospital near the town I was living. I was on life support for over two weeks at times not know if I was going to live or die but I fought because of my family. During the month of September 2014 I went to the emergency room as I thought I had a cold or bronchitis. I planned on being back home within four hours per the emergency room protocol. Four days later I remember waking up and not knowing where I was, why I was in that room, why I was hooked up to machines, why I couldn’t move or talk, and so on. I remember waking up the next few days having the same feeling. I was sent to the Intensive Care Unit on life support, had bilateral chest tubes, the Rhino Virus, the Entero68 virus, pneumonia, was given paralytics in the Emergency room which is contraindicated for a myasthenia gravis patient, was given antibiotics that was verbally communicated and documented was a contraindicated medicine for a myasthenia gravis patient, had pneumothorax, and had pneumoperitoneum.

After three weeks on life support and being bed ridden I had to learn to breathe again, which is something we are born doing naturally, so to learn how to do this and accept it emotionally was overwhelming. I also had to learn to swallow, control my pee, poop, talk, sit, stand, walk, exercise, and more. This is just the physical part I had to do in the hospital. The emotional part came later. The ICU doctors and team had to do their part as well to keep me alive, with daily bronchoscopes for eighth days after being extubated. I had chest tubes having to be reinserted after pulling them out too soon. I also had a wound to my lip due to being intubated resulting in permanent scaring. Three years has passed since that incident.

I have gone to multiple physical therapy appointments, counseling appointments, primary care doctor appointments, chiropractic appointments, massages, pulmonologist, neurologists, rheumatologists, dermatologist, and more. I have done 16 doses (four rounds) consisting of one day a week, 4-7 hours each day, for four weeks of Rituximab. Approximately 135-225 doses (forty-five rounds) of intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) consisting of 3-5 days, 3-5 hours each day every four weeks. I currently am having a hard time with vein access for the (IVIG). Having to do this treatment plan makes me lethargic, I sometimes have flu like symtpoms, my immune sysytem is lowered, I tend to get infections easier, I am unreliable due to my phsyical pain and emtional truama, I dont know when the Rituximab is always needed therefore making long term commitments is difficult.

The physicaly therapist have done all they can and the pain that I have daily is not something they can address or fix. I have been going to counseling appointments over the last two years. I have come a longway but still have problems with large crowds, germs, being away from home for very long, going anywhere overnight, going to any type of healthcare setting, watching anything hospital related on television, and more. I have tried to volunteer in the community but always tend to only do half or less of what is planned initially due to my current condition. I go through daily emotional trauma from the experience. I currently have anxiety, was diagnosed with PTSD, and insomnia (side effect of prednisone, mestinon, anxiety and PTSD). I have daily physical trauma from the experience. I currently have pain in my neck, thoracic and torso area.

I have numerous scars that hurt with the changing weather. My immune system is extremely low due to a previous thymectomy, being on prednisone, doing regular IVIG treatments and the Rituximab treatments. My body, and emotions are not the same as they were before, the current medical treatments needed for my body keeps me from be reliable and committed to things beyond my control. In my opinion, I came out of that tragedy a totally different person and I believe I will never be the same person. I had counseling, have anxiety attacks and am afraid to travel over two blocks to take the children to school preferring not to even leave our home (my safe place). I can no longer talk comfortably to people and do everything possible to avoid crowds. I try to volunteer when I can but have to cancel a lot. The worst part is I found out the hard way that autoimmune disorders can be passed on to your children. My son was diagnosed last year with colitis. I pray everyday a cure is found for my son and I.  Thank you for listening!

Author
Keri Soto

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