How Caring for a Houseplant Reminded Me of My MG Journey

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by Michelle Gonzaba |

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Like many others in the past two years, I’ve become a first-time houseplant owner. After “extensive” research, which involved perhaps a couple Google searches, I bought a Calathea ornata, or pinstripe Calathea, a beautiful plant with thin, pink-striped leaves. I wish I could say I chose it for practical reasons, but really I just liked the way it looked.

I always used to avoid plants. I’m not great with failure, and keeping a plant alive seemed like something I wouldn’t be great at. But boredom and an inability to leave the house led me to buy one. But instead of taking up only a few minutes of my day, as I thought it would, owning a plant has turned out to be a much bigger deal.

As National Houseplant Appreciation Day approaches on Jan. 10, I thought it would be a good time to honor the lessons my plant has taught me. These lessons not only have improved my daily life, but also have helped me understand my journey with myasthenia gravis (MG).

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The start of my MG journey and my diagnosis were similar to becoming a plant owner. Both were a bit frenetic at first. When I bought my plant, I looked up everything I could about it, such as the best type of soil to use, how often to water it, and the amount of sunlight it would need. I even bought a fancy pot and watering can.

I also read every article I could about MG. I researched every treatment and even tried to understand scientific articles about the disease. I thought all of this knowledge would help to cure my disease, but as with my plant, overindulging in information didn’t solve my problems.

As with many new plant owners, the first few months were rough for me. Some leaves formed, but quickly turned brown and wilted. It was like the first few months after I was diagnosed, when most of my attempts to regain my strength worked only sporadically. Some treatments helped, but they couldn’t completely prevent weakness from overtaking my body.

After much time and patience, I eventually figured out a successful routine for my plant. I moved it to a place of optimal sunlight, put it on a watering schedule, and made sure to maintain humidity by spraying mist on the leaves. Eventually, my plant wasn’t just surviving, it was thriving.

As with my plant, I eventually worked out a routine for my MG. The right combination of medications and a thymectomy put me on the right track to remission. It took time and patience, but eventually, everything turned out well for me.

Learning to care for my new plant reminded me of all the hard work it has taken me to get to the current point of wellness in my life. Both of these will always be a work in progress — routines will need to be adjusted and techniques will need to be improved — but a solution can always be found.


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.


Jonathan D AUTORE avatar

Jonathan D AUTORE

You are right on the money about plants and MG. It takes a lot of educating, googling, trial and error to find what will work for you ... especially on medication and willingness to stretch your health boundaries.

I tried on houseplants and failed. But I finally had better success through trial and error getting my outdoor plants, trees, and flowers to grow, thrive, and not die in the Arizona. summer heat. You have to educate yourself, be willing to try anything, be patient, ask others for their experiences, and then stick to your plan and plant more of the same things, that stood the tests.

Many of the plants and bulbs that I really wanted to have with me from my past, such as Minneapolis TIGER LILIES, or South Carolina AZALEAS withered and died ... but with patience and persistence, my pine trees, roses, ground covers, and bougainvillea are alive and thriving ... just as I am with Myasthenia Gravis staying in remission. Get advice, follow the knowledgeable neurologists, be patient, and take your medications religiously, exactly as prescribed. So I have been in remission for 13 months, and am more relaxed and ME AGAIN, for the first time in over two years. Happy 2022 and good health.


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