What is Myasthenia Gravis?

May 18, 2021 by Judith Allen Shone

“No act of kindness is ever wasted.”


While there are many websites giving basic definitions for the disease Myasthenia Gravis, most are in agreement as to basic pathological understanding.

On the Myasthenia Gravis Society of Canada website, they begin their definition with: “Myasthenia Gravis, or MG for short, is a rare neurological autoimmune disease in which antibodies attack the acetylcholine receptors at the neuromuscular junctions and produce fluctuating weakness & fatigability. Weakness increases with repeated activity, and usually improves with rest. Symptoms vary and may include: droopy eyelids, double vision, difficulty speaking and breathing, overall muscle weakness and fatigue… “ read more

NORD (National Organization for Rare Diseases) website begins discussion with: (with permission) “Myasthenia gravis is a neuromuscular disorder primarily characterized by muscle weakness and muscle fatigue.” read more

From Ada-Check your health – 50 medical professionals to help.“Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune condition that causes muscles to become weak and quickly tired. In this condition the immune system mistakenly produces proteins that fight infections (antibodies) that attack the the body’s healthy tissues.” read more

Not every patient experiences all the symptoms. If you suspect your symptoms might match something you read online, consider discussing your questions with your doctor.

Research will hopefully guide you to the answers you seek.

Myasthenia gravis?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website states:
“Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune, neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles that worsens after periods of activity and improves after periods of rest. These muscles are responsible for functions involving breathing and moving parts of the body, including the arms and legs.” read more

The website, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, shows:
“Myasthenia gravis (my-us-THEE-nee-uh GRAY-vis) is characterized by weakness and rapid fatigue of any of the muscles under your voluntary control. It’s caused by a breakdown in the normal communication between nerves and muscles.

There’s no cure for myasthenia gravis, but treatment can help relieve signs and symptoms, such as weakness of arm or leg muscles, double vision, drooping eyelids, and difficulties with speech, chewing, swallowing and breathing. read more

Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, all rights reserved. SOURCE

Oxford definitions states:
“a condition causing abnormal weakness of certain muscles.”

A rare chronic autoimmune disease marked by muscular weakness without atrophy, and caused by a defect in the action of acetylcholine at neuromuscular junctions.
noun: myasthenia gravis; plural noun: myasthenia gravis

Check what you learned -try the crossword puzzle.

How MG feels?

I have had Myasthenia Gravis since 1956 and here will relate how it has felt, and now feels, to me. It is a bizarre feeling to be normal one moment and within seconds you feel your body has rejected you. In a way, it has. The muscles do not get the message from the brain and the effort to try to move anyway is too fatiguing.

You are walking normally, and then, without warning, your leg muscles feel weak, you might even feel ‘pain’ in your effort to move them, but they can no longer carry you, hold you up. You must sit or rest. You cannot say…”just one more step”…there is not one more step—your leg muscles are fatigued to their limit. You fall if you go on because even though the muscles are strong, those muscles have not received the message from the brain to move. If you try to go on, the ‘pain’ of the failed struggle adds to the fatigue.

You are reading and your eyelids seem to fall closed on their own, without your prompting. They do not open on their own. You may feel the need to tape them open; some patients do. You can see through your eyes but the muscles of the eyelids are weak and will not keep the lids open without rest. You cannot read with closed eyes. After an unspecified amount of rest, the lids will open again.

You are carrying a book, a large coffee table book of photos, weighs maybe three pounds, maybe more. On the way to the table, your arms cannot hold it, your hands release because they have no power left to hold the book, the arms cannot hold it. The book drops. You do not have strength left to pick it up, until your arm and hand muscles rest.

If we can walk in someone else’s shoes for a period of time, we sometimes will come to understand them with compassion and patience.


Now that you have learned something, even one thing, about myasthenia gravis, and you have told one person about MG, please go to the comments below and write: “I DID IT! I told someone about MG” so we can celebrate extending the beacon of hope to those still searching for answers.


See Resources page next for links to more information

Get a journal or a computer app to keep notes

As you make your way through descriptions of the disease, you may find threads of information that might sound or feel familiar. Take notes. Keep a reference of where you read it and perhaps the author, website, book title, newspaper, date, —anything pertinent— so you could relocate it if you want to at a later time.

This list of information will be important to take when next seeing your personal health care provider.

Only a professional in the medical field can confirm or diagnose your particular symptoms.

The more information you can provide them, the more apt they are to listen, and the more helpful they might be.

Want to walk for, or donate to,
Myasthenia Gravis Society of Canada?
Visit Step Up for MG Fit or Press Release

others can learn by reading what you have discovered… a site solely for awareness of Myasthenia Gravis.

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Who else had MG that we might recognize?
Found on the internet:

Suzanne Rogers, played Maggie Horton on NBC’s “Days of Our Lives”

Aristotle Onassis, second husband of Jackie Kennedy

Sir Laurence Olivier, American actor/director

Christopher Robin Milne, son of author A.A. Milne

Wilma Pearl Mankiller, first woman elected Principal Chief of Cherokee Nation

Stephen Garret, ‘Static Major,’ award winning hip hop artist

James Carter, American athlete and 2005 Olympic hurdles champion

Roger Smith, actor who played ‘Jeff Spencer in “77 Sunset Strip”

Amitabh Bachchan, popular Indian film actor in action films

David Niven, English actor

Phil Silvers, American comedic actor

Brandon Cox, Auburn quaterback, in winningest senior class

Vijay Tendulkar, Indian theater director, playwright, screenwriter, and journalist

“Sleepy”(© Disney) of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was supposedly based on a friend of Walt Disney who had MG

Let’s learn together

What is Myasthenia Gravis? © 2021 Judith Allen Shone

Images by JL G from Pixabay
Watercolor & logo flowers image by Luciana Silva from Pixabay

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