So you can’t see straight? Go and see a quack! – Walter B.
When I started telling people that I had double vision and difficulty with bright light, and I found it hard to chew my way through a plate of custard, and my smaller fingers refused to hit the letters on my typewriter, so most of my letters began with the words: “Dsar ser,” and ended with “Yiors fathfilly,” and my legs sometimes felt as if they were full of glue, they all said:”yes, but what are your SYMPTOMS?”
After I’d convinced them that they were my symptoms, a lot of them put on their thinking caps. Poor Walter, this, after all, must be curable with what grandma used to use for grandpa’s gout. Sounds a bit like gout, anyway. Grandpa used to stumble home cross-eyed sometimes on Saturday nights and grandma used to put him to bed with a cold poultice on his head and a hot one on his tummy, and he was OK in the morning. Have you tried that? Well, no, not really. Oh, you’ve got to try that. It might fix the problem. It didn’t. It gave me blisters on my tummy and the flu.
So next came the herbalist someone talked to. He told my friend that – yes, he’d had something similar and he’d cured it by putting comfrey on his eyelids. So on went a glob of what looked like greasy spinach. It didn’t do much for the double vision, but it helped the trouble with bright light. Everything went dark green for a couple of days! Vitamins A-Z didn’t do much either. Neither did twenty types of herbal tea, acupuncture or a concoction made of boiled seaweed, honey and cumin seeds. One dear old soul even suggested meditation but, since I had bad hips, I couldn’t sit cross legged on the floor without screaming so that was the end of meditation.
Then an eye specialist who should have known better failed to recognise the symptoms of myasthenia and recommended a course of exercises for the double vision. They were great! The double vision became no vision at all as my eyelids, having had enough of all this comfrey, exercise and battered taste buds simply refused to open at all!
So by the time I staggered up the steps of my GP’s surgery, groped for the waiting room door handle, stepped on the five year old boy playing on the floor , apologised to his mother, and slumped into a seat, I was ready to jump out the window if only I could have found it! It took just two minutes. My GP looked at me, held a finger up and asked how many I could see. Silly question. Two, of course! Then he said:” I know what you’ve got. You’ve got myasthenia gravis……very interesting…..you’re the first case I’ve seen. Hang on, I’ll get my partner”. So the partner came and they held up fingers and looked at me as if I’d just arrived from Mars and found me “verrrrry interesting.”
So did the specialist. He asked me how I felt about having my thymus out. I thought he was trying to tell me that my zipper was undone, but it dawned on me that he was considering having me cut about. He sent me for a cat scan, and they found me verrrrrry interesting too. But when I took the pictures back to the specialist he said my thymus could stay in but I had to take Prednisone and Mestinon and Imuran.
Just after that I went to Germany and a medical cousin recommended something that actually did work for quite some time. It comprised daily drops and injections of a compound made of snake venom and, for a while, it seemed to make a definite improvement in my condition. But then, a couple of years later there was a delay in delivery and I ran out. Although I resumed the treatment a few months later it was never the same. I wasn’t sorry because it cost me $4000 a year and endless stressful weeks waiting to see if the parcel would arrive. As well as that, the injections in my sit-me-down was creating hard lumps of scar tissue, and my poor bottom was starting to feel like a pineapple.
There’s a moral in all this. If you’ve got myasthenia, try anything you like. As with me, some of it may work. But whatever you eventually decide to do, let the experts look at you first!