Myasthenia Awareness Month

Posted at: 06/18/2013 4:53 PM
Updated at: 06/18/2013 5:55 PM
By: Benita Zahn

Caring for his pet birds it about all Lynn Stone has energy for these days. Two years ago while teaching three college courses Lynn began suffering bouts of exhaustion. He blamed it on his busy scheduled. But then two more things happened.

"I had an episode of double vision where I was looking at something and couldn't bring it into one image. Then then, um, then few weeks later my eyelid started to droop" says Stone.

That finally sent him to the doctor. An examination and blood test confirmed a diagnosis of a disease he never heard of: Mysathenia Gravis.

"When he gave me the diagnosis he told me what I had and he said its serious but he said it's not he best diagnosis but it's also not the worst."

Not the worst because nowadays it can be treated.

Myasthenia gravis is an auto immune disease, meaning the body turns on itself. Affecting your muscles, most people are like Lynn, experiencing fatigue and vision issues.

It can also affect muscles that control facial expression, chewing, and swallowing. Untreated, it can affect muscles that control breathing causing acute respiratory failure.

"Some of the drugs and we have many new treatments,  can take 3 months to 6 months to work" says neurologist, Dr. James Story. He says myasthenia affects men and women in equal numbers but women are usually affected before at 40, men, after age 6O.

While the cause of myasthenia isn't known, Story says sometimes,the thymus gland plays a role and removing it can bring good results.

"We do know that there are some connection between the thymus gland and myasthenia gravis. So people with myasthenia gravis have a thymus gland that's over active, or overgrown. Occasionally there's a tumor in the thymus gland."

For most of us the Thymus gland withers away as we age.

As for Lynne, the thymus gland doesn't appear to be the culprit.

He's on a new treatment, hoping it will be effective.

" It really is not easy right now."

The local myasthenia support group meets The second Saturday of each month, 11 A-M, AT the Latham Fire House. For more info email the chair of the group, barry Levine -