Hi…..My name is Charles (CHUCK) Duffy . I am a retired USAF CMSGT living with my wife of 50 years plus (Darlene) in San Antonio, Texas. I served in the USAF from 1950 until 1980 and then started a second career and taught for 13 years in the Texas A &M University System until I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis in February of 1993 and placed on medical leave. Since I was unable to perform the duties for which I was hired, I was awarded a medical retirement from A & M in November of that year.
Like most persons with MG, my initial symptoms were the droopy eyelids and double vision. At the time I was working at the A & M facility at Hemisfair Plaza in downtown San Antonio, so off I went to see a military eye doctor at Kelly AFB. I was lucky to see the Colonel in charge who immediately called the Wilford Hall medical Center and got me an appointment the next morning in Neurology. Once again luck was with me as I saw an MG expert who was training interns and he asked me to allow the other Doctors to witness the examination and subsequent testing. He administered a Tensilon test and briefed the interns on the anticipated results. Injection of the chemical edrophonium (Tensilon) resulted in a sudden although temporary improvement in my muscle strength- an indication that I had MG.
He was 100% on target and made the initial diagnosis of MG which was confirmed with additional testing. I really feel blessed in that so many people are not properly diagnosed and my MG was confirmed within 24 hours of my initial visit to the eye doctor. I was initially placed on Mestinon alone as my MG was considered ocular.
Unfortunately in a matter of months my MG became generalized and my muscles got so weak I couldn’t even shave or get around. I was hospitalized to be observed and placed on new medication. I was administered Immuran and had a bad reaction and went into a myasthenic crisis and had to be placed on a ventilator. I was switched to Prednisone administered with an IV. After about a month in the hospital I was given plasmapheresis for seven days. This procedure uses a filtering process similar to dialysis. Your blood is routed through a machine that removes the antibodies that are blocking transmission of signals from your nerve endings to your muscle receptor sites. It worked and I was finally released from the hospital and able to function pretty good. As time passed I developed peripheral neuropathy in both lower legs which is still there and they say is probably due to the MG. I also have Lymphedema (swelling in my lower legs and feet). While on Prednisone I went from 215 pounds to 320. I was taken off Prednisone and placed on Cellcept and am doing OK but find it hard to lose the excess weight. I have difficulty rising from a sitting position, climbing stairs, walking and I am unable to use my legs to drive. I have hand controls in my vehicles which allow me to drive and I use a power wheel chair so I get around just fine. Physical therapy has done wonders in increasing my strength. I will continue exercising from now on.
I am A CANCER SURVIVOR, and people understand that. But anytime someone asks why I am in a chair and I tell them I have MG, they don’t have any idea what I am talking about. So I am so happy to be a member of the MG Support Group.
I attended my first MG Support Group meeting in November of 2010. It is the first time I have ever talked to someone who also had MG. The meeting was so informative and the people in the group were great. I will be a regular attendee at future meetings.