This I Believe

Tracy - Fremont, California
Entered on January 19, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: hope, illness

I believe I will get better. 2 years ago, just before my 40th birthday, I told my husband that when I got tired, I saw double. I thought it was normal, a sign of aging – like needing bifocals. I said, “You know when you get tired, and you see two of everything?” and he said “ah, no…”

I believe I will get better. Later that month, my optometrist told me that double vision was not normal, and I needed to see my doctor, so I did. Six months later, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, a rare autoimmune disease that affects the neuromuscular junction. Even the day I had the diagnostic test that confirmed Myasthenia, I was sure they were going to tell me I was fine, there was nothing wrong with me and I was seeing double and having random muscle weakness just because I was old, tired and stressed out.

I believe I will get better. The good thing about Myasthenia is that it won’t kill you – well, not anymore. Aristotle Onasis died from a Myasthenia crisis, but treatment is better now. Medications are better. At my diagnosis, my neurologist told me the same thing I am sure that all of the 60,000 people in the U.S. diagnosed with Myasthenia are told – you could get better, you could stay the same, or you could get worse, about 33% chance of each. I believe I will get better.

When I drop the fork while I am eating salad, I believe I will get better. When I am writing on the whiteboard and my arm drops in front of my fourth grade students, I believe I will get better. When I am too tired to take my dog for a walk, and watch jealously as my husband goes running, I believe I will get better.

As I recovered from the surgery that cut open my sternum to remove my thymus and left me with internal clips and a scar down my chest, I believed I would get better. As I take medications to treat my symptoms and suppress my immune system, I believe I will get better. As I go to yet another doctor’s appointment, I believe I will get better. As I struggle to lose weight – added weight from steroids, weight aided by the inability to exercise, I believe I will get better.

I often think about what I will be like one day – able to run, maybe even a half-marathon, because I believe I will get better. I know that when I am not making dinner, not helping my kids with their homework, not correcting my students’ work, not doing all those things I should be doing, things I want to be doing, but I can’t because I am too tired, my vision is acting up, I ache all over from standing or walking or sitting, I know I will get better. I know I will get better, I believe I will get better.