Beyond the Limits of Myasthenia Gravis HTML version

Page 2 of 63 Beyond the Limit
Copyright 1994 by Clete Gress Revised January 2000 & Reform atted December, 2005
From : Rev. Carolyn S. Belshe <cbm>
To: C Gress <>
Subject: Is this it?
Date: Tuesday, Decem ber 28, 1999 10:46 PM
Getting the glorious news that I had been selected to m anage a hospital in Southeast Africa
m eant that I would pass a rigid physical exam ination with lots of laboratory testing and to begin
a series of inoculations to enter foreign countries. The excitem ent of foreign m issionary work
had been with me since age seven. Nearing the ripe age of fifty m eant leaving behind two adult
sons, two grandchildren, a host of friends and a successful career in long-term care
adm inistration. Protection consisted of shots and pills and such for protection against
everything from Yellow Fever to Rabies. I was to start taking chlorquin tablets to build up
immunity against M alaria.
I had always been on the m anagem ent end of health care and left all those m edical debates
and decisions to those so trained. M y nurse colleague made arrangem ents for our pill taking
amounts and tim es and faithfulness to the task. I took m y turn at other duties more related to
training schedule departure dates and the like. We arrived in upstate New York to experience a
m onth of intense foreign service orientation. I thought m y recent m id-life weight gain was
slowing m e down. M y colleague was comprehending things in training that seem ed to just float
over m y head. Never daring to question what was happening, I continued to blam e the weight
gain and all those shots that could possibly make us feel badly a few days.
Arri ving in Portugal a few weeks later, I collapsed upon entering our apartm ent and slept for
eight hours without moving, while she got acquainted with the beautiful living arrangement,
scouted the neighborhood for grocery stores and bus stops. Two days later it was time for us to
enter language training. Oh sure, the reason she was learning Portuguese so much easier was
her background in Latin in nursing school. Oh well, there will be equalization along the way, I
We continued our daily routine of pills, then m ore shots, then tim e for that long anticipated flight
to Africa. Our work began. Several weeks passed into months and the civil war was carrying on
and our hospital was serving the injured of both sides along with M alnourished being the
prim ary diagnosis on all admissions and Malaria being the second on all adm issions. Then
came the third and m ain cause for their arrival in the emergency room (usually) – that being
war-related atrocities of which most Am ericans can not fathom .
One, then the other of us, began having episodes of M alaria. She would be down a day or two
at the m ost and spring back. For m e, no way. Fear for m y life would fly through the mission
station, m aking news in the Church office 500 miles away where that news would be
transmitted 10,000 miles back around the world to the New York office. Reserves of four
different treatments would be adm inistered with the local folks praying that their m issionary
friend would not die on their hands. Plans would be made and I would be shipped stateside for
m edical leave, recovery and return to the m ost interesting and fulfilling job of m y life.
Five years and eight docum ented bouts like I have just described and I was brought to Atlanta,
GA for further testing and several m onths m edical leave. Upon com pleting that course of action