Letting Go of the Anger, Many Years After Diagnosis

Letting Go of the Anger, Many Years After Diagnosis
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On the inside of my right arm, just above the bend of my elbow, I have a small, circular scar. It’s a shade lighter than my skin tone and about the size of a peppercorn. It isn’t very noticeable, and I think I’m the only one who can see it. But although it’s small and hard to spot, it holds a deep significance for me.

The scar was caused by a PICC line that had to be inserted when I was in the intensive care unit due to a myasthenia gravis (MG) crisis. It isn’t the most traumatizing memory from that time, but for some reason, it holds power over me. That power used to be negative. What else could the scar remind me of besides fear and anger?

But time has made me look at it differently. My tiny, circular scar reminds me that I was hurt, I was in pain, but I made it. The wound closed, the skin healed. I’m still here.

It has taken me years to accept my myasthenia gravis diagnosis. And when I say years, I mean years. I have never met a problem I couldn’t compartmentalize, but there’s no way I could avoid this.

Previously, I spent too much time being angry at the hand I was dealt. The only point of view I had of MG was negative and pessimistic. Even when I was responding positively to medications and surgery, my anger stayed, settling in my chest like a bomb waiting to explode.

But the anger never made me feel better. The bomb became bigger and bigger, to the point that any little annoyance or inconvenience made me irritable beyond belief. But what was this anger doing for me? How was it helping? The short answer: It wasn’t. 

I wish I could say I read some inspirational book or had some epiphany, but my attitude adjustment took a while to happen. I realized I couldn’t change my diagnosis, but I could change my reaction to it. Instead of being angry, I could learn from my experiences.

Myasthenia gravis is a part of me, and it will never go away, but I can still make it mean something. I can’t say I’ve found meaning in every single experience I’ve had in the past 10 years (I’ll never mentally recover from those bed baths), but I now look back on those memories with clearer eyes. I am here now because of those events, so how can I be mad about them? It was hard, it was grueling, but it didn’t break me. Now, I can look at that tiny scar on my arm and feel grateful that I’m still here.

With this column, I hope to help readers find strength in their weaknesses. Whether it’s physical or mental, we all have times when it feels like our helplessness will swallow us whole. But one thing I have learned throughout my MG journey is that times of weakness can only lead to moments of strength. We don’t know how tough we are until we have to be, and myasthenia gravis has taught me this lesson time and time again.

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Myasthenia Gravis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

After struggling to identify the cause of her muscle weakness for almost a year, Michelle was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 2011. With her column, she hopes to help those with MG know they aren’t alone in their struggles and triumphs. Michelle lives in Texas and enjoys movies, TV, and awards season.
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After struggling to identify the cause of her muscle weakness for almost a year, Michelle was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 2011. With her column, she hopes to help those with MG know they aren’t alone in their struggles and triumphs. Michelle lives in Texas and enjoys movies, TV, and awards season.
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18 comments

  1. Rosa Lombardi says:

    Dear Michelle, thank you for your article. I couldn’t agree more! I was diagnosed in 2012. I also spent 24 days in UCI due to crisis. I have come to accept that I’m a part of MG instead of the other way round so I have learnt not to give up. I keep on struggling. With my best and looking forward to reading you again, Rosa.

  2. Ida says:

    It was great,, we should accept what we get although there
    Are many many times we revolt,cry,and lose hope.
    The treatments help a lot .we are thankful when we are in
    Remission and always hope for a stable life.

  3. Kenneth Mckinnish says:

    I need someone that help me understand this because I’m about to lose everything I got on account of mg. I need a good doctor

  4. Jonathan Autore says:

    I have been very angry !!!! But it was not because I got M.G. …. but because for 8 long months I kept getting weaker and weaker … as more of the Myasthenia Gravis symptoms appeared and weakened me further ……. AND NO DOCTOR….WHO SAW ME could diagnose my MYASTHENIA GRAVIS. It was as if they do not teach NEUROLOGY in Medical School at all. They kept doing tests and MRI’s that came out clear … because they GUESSED I had a brain stroke or acid reflux/GERD because I had food in my lungs and nose … but my tests said NO. Instead I decided to go directly to a hospital emergency room at 6 months. Instead of a diagnosis and a cure or a remission, I got three pneumonias (CITROBACTER FARMERI, STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS, and ASPIRATIONAL) along with a collapsed right lung, acute respiratory failure, and three holes in my chest, back, and throat ..because the doctors and consultants were totally ignoring my 8 or 9 Myasthenia Gravis symptoms that they did not associate as one disease. So at the first hospital for 4 weeks no diagnosis … so they sent me in ambulance to second hospital … after 4 weeks still no diagnosis. Finally a floor nurse at the second hospital listened to me and saw all my symptoms … and instantly diagnosed me with MYASTHENIA GRAVIS … got me tested and IVIG treatment and pills started. She said right away … I know exactly what you have …. we have patients right here in this hospital that have ALL THE SYMPTOMS that you have … YOU HAVE M.G. !!!!!! SO my anger and being sick was due to doctors who could not diagnose MG despite all my symptoms ,,, which ended up being all 8 or 9 of them being RIGHT ON THE MONEY !!!!!

    I was so happy to find I had M.G. I got my diagnosis … and am in remission. I was not crazy. The doctors and my Healthcare lacked the knowledge. I even had one doctor … a Cardiologist … who cleared me of any heart diseases … as a possibility …. declare me in print …. that I was a “POOR HISTORIAN”. All my 8 or 9 symptoms that I told the doctor about …. turned out to be right on the money …. and the nurse gave me a printout from http://www.uptodate.com called “MYASTHENIA GRAVIS: THE BASICS” … that listed every symptom I had and I told doctors about.

    • Michelle Gonzaba says:

      It is insane what you’ve been through! I am so happy you are in remission. Thank you for sharing your story!

  5. Jana says:

    Hello,
    Thank you for your article. My Husband has been fighting for 14 years with MG and Recurrent Thymoma. His struggles are something some may not ever imagine. Stanford Doctors say he’s one in a million as far as the amount suffering they have seen. The antibodies put in his system by the cancer cells are attacking random parts of his body, like his kidney one year, and stomach the next. If it helps anyone to read a little about someone really in the thick of it, they recently did a story on him in the newspaper. Here is the article:

    https://www.santacruzsentinel.com/2021/03/12/santa-cruz-photographer-documents-terminal-illness-on-own-terms/

    • Michelle Gonzaba says:

      Hi Jana, I’m so sorry your husband is going through so much. I read the article-both of you sound like fighters. And his photographs are so powerful. Thank you for reading and commenting and I send good vibes to you and your husband.

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