Myasthenia Gravis…it came about suddenly in 2003. It was so bad at onset that doctors believed that I had meningitis. The journey to being diagnosed is another long story that I’ll have to discuss in another blog. Miraculously, I have been in remission since 2013. I am so thankful that I have had no myasthenic crises or symptoms in years. I still have minor symptoms occasionally. However, I am able to live a fulfilling life. Let me just say that since the onset of this autoimmune/neuro muscular disorder, I was able to maintain an acceptable/comfortable weight (for my preference). Myasthenia affects voluntary muscles. The muscles used to chew and swallow food is a voluntary muscle.
The way that myasthenia works, is that these muscles that are used everyday with little to no thought become weakened. When I say weakened, I mean severely weakened. Myasthenia mainly affected my upper body. My head would feel like it weighed a ton and my neck could not hold it up. My eyelids would feel so heavy and I would be unable to keep them open. My arms and fingers would be so weak and limp that picking up a cup would be impossible. When breathing, I would gasp for air that literally seemed nonexistent. So, when symptoms arose, I was stuck in bed. Rest and sleep helped to relieve the onset of the symptoms.
Back to chewing and swallowing…
So, when I would experience symptoms, my ability to chew would diminish as my jaws could not perform the action of chewing. Eating both solids and liquids was extremely difficult. Solid food would make me choke and it would not go down my throat. When drinking liquids, they would simply come back out through my nose. At times, I would be able to eat mashed potatoes and cookies and cream ice cream very slowly. This could last/fluctuate for days, weeks or months.
The development of poor eating habits.
Prior to the onset of myasthenia, I was in the best health of my life. I monitored the intake of all foods into my body. I exercised daily and sometimes multiple times a day. My muscles were toned…and I credit that lifestyle for preparing me for the battle of myasthenia. The problem is that after developing myasthenia I went food crazy. I lost lots of weight during the times that I couldn’t eat. So, naturally I had to make up for the weight loss by devouring whatever food I wanted when I felt well, right? Ugh! I would indulge in all types of food. Why? Because I knew that the ability to eat would eventually go away and I’d lose whatever weight I might gain. This behavior continued for the duration of myasthenia. What a silly mindset…I never considered the damage that I could be causing in other areas.
Nonetheless, when my life changed because of myasthenia, I didn’t remain disciplined. Now that my myasthenia is in remission, I don’t have a weight loss plan. Life has a way of throwing us curve balls. We may feel justified in going off course. However, consider the consequences that may follow. If I had stayed disciplined during my rough myasthenic years, I wouldn’t need to develop a new healthy lifestyle…a lifestyle that I had once mastered.