Best to Deal with What Is

"Omigod, please make it not true!" Heather muttered, "but it's got to be true because the tests say it's probably true, which means, of course, it is true, only no one will say so, which means I'll have to quit my job because I'll be unable to work and, ohmigod, I'll never get another job not that I can't work. Gotta think, gotta think...

"I know! First thing tomorrow, I'll give notice. Then I'll move so as to cut down on rent - but moving costs money and I won't have any income so I'll need to have a garage sale..."

Whoa, there, Heather, slow down! You don't even know for sure what the diagnosis means and already you're holding a garage sale?

Actually maybe we should all slow down because, let's face it, Heather, moments happen. Remember the day you were diagnosed with MG? In three nanoseconds, I'll bet you went from Fear of the Unknown to Fear of the Known, then straight to Fear of the Assumed.

An awful lot of us myasthenics were control freaks long before our bodies went nuts so it's no surprise that we're top-notch worriers. We seldom waste time on Fear of the Unknown, though. That's strictly for amateurs. If a person hangs around Unknownland long enough, at some point it's bound to occur to him that, "Hey, I don't even know if that is a fact."

Common Sense

In this way fearing of the Unknown is like playing chess. A little common sense changes everything.

Fear of the Known is far more seductive. That's because facts don't come in ones, they come in bunches. There are families of facts, tribes of facts, veritable nations and whole universes of facts. A couple of hours on the Internet and we can dig up literally zillions of facts, any four or five plenty murky enough to scare us half to death. However, even the scariest "known" has its limits because eventually we're going to run across some new fact that forces us to see the big picture, and we stop being afraid.

We could always fall back on Denial, of course, but Denial is little more than procrastination. Inevitably, one of those pesky facts will pop up. No, if it's serious fear you're looking for, what you want is Fear of the Assumed. This is the Big Time of scariness, and, boy, are we myasthenics good at it.

How does Fear of the Assumed work? At the first whiff of a saber tooth tiger we latch onto some "fact" that fits our preconception of how life works. ("The test says it's probably true which means, of course, it IS true.”) Having fully accepted said "fact" as gospel, we then turn it against ourselves in order to justify our fear. ("I'll never get another job now that I can't work.")


Each and every one of us has been blindsided by MG, and one of our deepest fears is that we'll be blindsided again. That's why we will often manipulate the Known, even if that manipulation is self-defeating, to delude ourselves into thinking we're in control of the situation. What we overlook is that all we've done is checkmated ourselves.

Fear is natural folks. It's gonna happen. But what you and I are coping with is far more real than saber tooth tigers so it's imperative that we stay grounded. We must be always mindful of that singular Commandment hardwired into every super chess computer: Thou Shalt Not Freak Out.

Moreover, because we can only imagine only so many scenarios, we must also accept that life will repeatedly blindside us and there's not one little thing we can do about it. (Actually, this isn't entirely bad. Haven't we all been blindsided by first love? By a baby's tiny giggle?)

But most especially, we must never forget that it's like the guy in My Cousin Vinnie says: "There's not a problem 'til there's a problem." Our most creative worrying beforehand won't change anything, and worrying afterward is irrelevant. It's only when you deal with what is that you have a chance at winning.

The Successful Myasthenic

For many years, Patricia Armstrong was well known to readers of MG News for her upbeat columns pertaining to coping with the idiosyncrasies of having myasthenia gravis. During the thirty-seven years since diagnosis, Patricia has worked hard to find her balance in life despite her generalized symptoms. It wasn’t easy; a former husband would never get the Nobel Prize for compassion since he was embarrassed and irritated by her condition.

Learning to make the necessary adjustments that MG requires, changing her dreams and setting new boundaries has made Patricia, in her own words, “one strong cookie.” Patricia has parlayed her unique MG experiences and those of other myasthenics into entertaining and interesting vignettes which strive to help others deal with life after a diagnosis of MG.


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