Why it’s important to celebrate the small wins with myasthenia gravis

When running a marathon isn't likely, it may be victory to load the dishwasher

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by Shawna Barnes |

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Guess what I did last week? I took a shower standing up!

Who cares, right? Well, I do. Because it was a win, however small.

When you have a rare disease like myasthenia gravis (MG), the ability to celebrate big wins becomes a rare event of its own. Those small wins, then, become even more important to acknowledge, embrace, and, yes, even celebrate.

What are ‘wins’?

Wins are anything that move us forward in this thing called life. Moments to celebrate. Activities performed. Tasks accomplished.

We often think of these in terms of big wins and celebrations, such as graduations, weddings, work promotions, major physical self-improvement, raising a family, and more. But what do you acknowledge and celebrate when your body may prevent you from achieving even the most basic of these?

You look for the small wins and embrace them for what they are.

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For me, a small win can happen when doing a variety of activities, such as those involving self-care, personal hygiene, socializing, work, daily living, and others.

It doesn’t matter what the activity is — but it does matter that you acknowledge it.

Self-care wins

One of my self-care wins is when I remember to take time away from the screen. I may remember to take time in the morning to crochet or engage in another hobby that brings me joy.

Going to our local cafe for a meal by myself, perhaps with a book to read or even my tablet to get some writing done, is one of my favorite self-care wins.

Personal hygiene wins

Here are some recent examples of personal hygiene wins from my life:

I’m able to brush my teeth before bed (which is especially significant for me since I’m often too tired and I experience bulbar symptoms). I can shower more than once a week. I’m able to shower standing up and don’t have to use my shower chair. I can do something with my curly mess of a head of hair other than throwing it up in a ponytail or putting a bandanna on.

Social wins

Here’s a social activity win for me: going to an event even though some people there don’t understand MG. Excusing myself from that event and leaving early. And not feeling guilty about it!

Some others include enforcing my boundaries to allow me personal space, time alone, or a period without talk, among others. One celebration was because I attended a school sporting event for a friend’s daughter.

Work-related wins

In the work area, I consider it a win to stick to my self-imposed limit of working only 20 hours a week.

Some others: Enforcing my boundaries by having only one meeting a day where I have to speak, as a way to care for my vocal issues. Informing my web design clients if I’ll be late on a scheduled deliverable because of symptom exacerbations.

The big picture on small wins

Crazy, right? That all these seemingly innocuous tasks are activities that, when accomplished, I consider a win? It’s been through living my life with MG as best I can, and learning to measure my progress for today against my own progress from yesterday, that I’ve been able to see these small things for what they are. And they are wins.

Small wins may look like everyday, ordinary tasks to someone without MG. But knowing your body, knowing your current ability, and acknowledging when you’re able to push past that, even just a smidge: That’s worth celebrating.

Cook a meal? Wash the dishes or load the dishwasher? Brush your hair? Call and schedule that dentist appointment you’ve been putting off? Go grocery shopping?


Engage anew in a favorite hobby? Walk 1,000 steps in a day? Pick watermelon over a candy bar?


Celebrate the small wins. Because these small wins add up and accumulate into measurable progress. You may not be able to see that progress, but I can guarantee you’ll feel it. You’ll feel lighter, happier, and excited to see other moments when you can keep living your best life.

I’d love to know what some of your small wins are. Please share them in the comments so I can celebrate with you!

Note: 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. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Myasthenia Gravis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to myasthenia gravis.


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