How MG Changed My College Experience

Michelle Gonzaba avatar

by Michelle Gonzaba |

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As a young teenager, I had a very specific vision for my college years. I imagined nonstop parties, long nights spent studying in the library, and failed attempts at trying to use the washing machine. But I couldn’t have imagined how different my college experience would be.

My first year was pretty normal. Like most 18-year-olds, I was having trouble adjusting to college life. While it was difficult, I could manage well enough to get by, and made it through the year unscathed. It was the rest of college I needed to worry about.

My second year was very different from my first. Symptoms of myasthenia gravis began to appear a few weeks before the first day of classes. I was unable to keep my mouth closed while eating, and my voice grew more nasally as the year went on. But the normal stresses of school distracted me from my growing weakness.

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The weakness put a big damper on my social life. I wasn’t comfortable eating or drinking in front of people because my mouth would not stay closed. Talking for longer than a minute was also out of the question; the longer I talked, the weirder my voice sounded. I kept social interactions to a minimum.

By the end of my second year, the weakness had spread to my eyes and limbs. The symptoms, combined with my fear of what was happening to my body, now dominated my college life. Thoughts of parties and study groups had been replaced by anxiety about an illness I couldn’t name.

My high levels of stress and anxiety weren’t unheard of — many college students deal with the same difficulties. But mine were caused by something I couldn’t accept. Instead of dealing with my weakness, I focused on my studies and kept to myself. My illness stopped me from living the life I had always dreamed of.

I was finally diagnosed with MG the summer between my second and third years of college. For the next few years, my academic life was a roller-coaster ride of unsuccessful treatments, weakness, and major victories. Even though my college life was greatly affected by the diagnosis, I was and still am incredibly grateful to find out what was making me sick.

So maybe college didn’t end up going the way I thought it would. But everything I went through made me stronger and more grateful for the life I now have. There will be plenty of times when something doesn’t go the way I planned, but I’ve learned that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s just different from what I expected. And different doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

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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.

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2021 Myasthenia Gravis Survey Results

BioNews Survey Infographic

Myasthenia Gravis News conducted a survey from Feb. 11-March 28 to gain greater insight into the characteristics of the MG community and disease management. Results of the survey have now been published. Click on the image to view the infographic, and click here to read the story.