Myasthenia Gravis is an autoimmune disease involving the nerves and muscles. Instead of fighting infections, the immune system becomes overactive and attacks the muscle receptors. This makes it difficult for the nerves to send signals to the muscles and make them function properly.
The main feature of myasthenia gravis is muscle weakness, including the eyelids, throat and facial muscles, and arms and legs. This results in droopy eyelids, difficulty chewing and swallowing, slurred speech, and difficulty walking.
While there is still no cure for myasthenia gravis, patients may benefit from the treatment options available to relieve the symptoms. These range from medications like steroids and immunosuppressants, intravenous therapy, and surgery. The effect of each treatment may differ from patient to patient.
Needless to say, MG can also affect a patient’s social life and it would be really good if they have people who care for them aside from their immediate family.
Here are some things you can do to help a friend or a loved one living with myasthenia gravis.
1. Get in touch with them
Dealing with chronic illnesses like myasthenia gravis can be very isolating especially for patients whose symptoms are really bad. The weakness of leg muscles makes it difficult for them to move around. The impact of facial muscle weakness on their speech and eating can also be quite a challenge.
These symptoms may force them to stay at home and away from their friends. Check in on them whenever you can. Ask if you can visit when possible. They might just be waiting for you to call. Having friends who care can surely make a difference.
2. Invite them out
Staying isolated at home for a long period of time can have a negative impact on mental and emotional health. Invite your friend to go out once in a while. They might decline when their symptoms are acting up but might just accept your offer when manageable. Also, it would really help if you could offer a ride even when they are able to walk that day.
3. Plan the day accordingly
Maybe you used to do a lot of activities with your friend before their diagnosis. Keep in mind that their condition has caused a lot of changes which include how they spend their time. Having myasthenia gravis also causes fatigue especially towards the end of the day.
You might want to schedule the activity in the morning after their medication started working and avoid planning so many things to do in one day. Also, it would be a good idea to include rests in your schedule.
4. Ask them how else you can help
There sure are some things that your friend needs help with but hesitates to say so. They might be afraid of bothering other people or don’t know who they can call. Maybe they need to bring their pet to the vet or buy some stuff but are too tired to get out. You can ask your friend the things that they might need help with and let them know when you are most likely available.
Living with myasthenia gravis can be really challenging. The symptoms can make a big impact on a person’s day-to-day life. Having friends and loved ones reach out to them and offer a hand can mean a lot.
If you or anyone you know is affected by myasthenia gravis, please join our Living with Myasthenia Gravis Community.