Myasthenia Gravis Helped Me to Become a Better Healthcare Professional

Retha De Wet avatar

by Retha De Wet |

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I recently completed my university degree and became a speech-language pathologist. I’ve spent several years studying to become a healthcare professional because I want to help people. But little did I know that helping others would become easier after I needed help myself.

When I began my studies, I hadn’t yet become sick. I didn’t choose to become a healthcare professional because I was failed by the system, but coincidentally, these two things happened concurrently. In the mornings, I studied on campus, and after class, I would be in various doctors’ offices fishing for a diagnosis. I became a patient as soon as I decided to become a health professional.

Toward the end of my first year of studies, I was diagnosed with MG. That day I learned how it feels to receive devastating news.

The first few years of my studies were mainly focused on theory, so I didn’t yet know that being a patient with a myasthenia gravis (MG) relapse would eventually improve my clinical skills later while working in a hospital. In the wards, I observed social hierarchies and various customs. I took in the many different smells and sounds. I tried to understand why nurses listened and attended to some patients, but were reluctant to do so with others. I experienced firsthand how it feels when a health professional fails to explain what they are doing in a way that a patient can easily understand.

This experience has motivated me to treat my patients with kindness and care. I realize, perhaps more than others, that spending extra time to make sure a patient understands what is happening makes a big difference, both in quality of care and in boosting a patient’s autonomy. I remember a neurologist who once told my mother at my bedside, “I’m only treating her the way I would treat my own daughter.” To me, being a good health professional means treating each patient with as much respect and thoroughness as a family member. I still follow this guideline with my patients today.

Working in healthcare while having MG presents many challenges, and I plan to write about these soon. In my final year of studies, I completed and presented a research project about speech and swallowing with MG. On the day of my research presentation, people asked several questions about MG that I was able to answer confidently and correctly. This is because of my extensive research at the library and my many experiences as a patient living with this disease.

I am thankful that MG raised my awareness about what it feels like when a health professional treats a patient poorly. The feeling of empowerment I get from health professionals who include me in the management of my own disease is something I hope to replicate with each patient I see.

I am grateful that MG has made me a better health professional. One of my goals is to help all of my patients see the beauty in life.


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

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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.