someone with myasthenia gravis experiencing stress over household chores

Coping with Stress When You Have MG

The last few years, I’ve been under a lot of stress. As with anyone, even when we’re happy and feel stress-free, stress is always near. However, there have been several events in my life that have participated in increasing my stress levels, including my husband’s illnesses and the death of my sweet fur-baby.

My husband’s illnesses were serious and bad enough that he hasn’t been able to do much physically or even go shopping or to the park much, if at all. He can’t help much at home, and I have myasthenia gravis (MG) and lumbar stenosis, among other illnesses. Therefore, I am in a power chair, making many things more difficult to accomplish – and slower. I have weakness and a lot of pain over most of my body. All this hinders me, causes me great anguish, and stress. It can be rather depressing, too.

More work has fallen on me

Though we’re both retired, we’ve tried to remain as active as possible. A few years ago, before my husband became ill, we decided we wanted to start gardening again. Because we have more free time and enjoy gardening, we decided it would be good for us to grow as much of our own food as possible. Nothing can compare to eating fresh food and we do not like eating genetically modified foods - some of the preservatives used cause both of us gastrointestinal distress.

My husband has always been very good about helping with household duties, as well as outdoors. However, since he’s been ill, the majority of it has fallen to me. Normally it wouldn’t be an issue, as I’m used to hard work and long hours. As a farmer’s daughter, then a surgical and emergency department nurse, I’ve had my share of stress and physical labor that comes with the jobs. The difference now is I have MG ... not to mention I’m not young anymore.

All I want to do is sleep

These last few years have been very taxing while caring for and worrying about my husband, taking care of the house, most of the yard and large garden, and trying to fit in some "me" time. I did fine the first 3 years, but this last year I have found it increasingly difficult to keep going. Now, all I want to do is sleep.

Getting up to clean the house, water plants, or cook a meal isn’t something I want to do. I felt like I had to keep things going on my own, but by doing so, I have become so fatigued and have lost interest in it. I’ve had little "me" time and even less adequate rest, as sometimes it's difficult to sleep at night. So, how do we fix this or avoid most of it?

Improving stress levels

Physical stress and emotional stress can worsen MG symptoms. We can’t always avoid stress. It’s with us all the time. However, here are some steps we can take to lessen or improve our stress level.1

  • Don’t rush. If you’re going to be late, be late. The world won’t end because you’re late.
  • Learn to ask for help when needed. Be direct and specific.
  • Get lots of rest no matter how busy you are.
  • Allow yourself time for naps and no guilt trips.
  • Rest your eyes regularly, especially while reading, doing computer work, or watching TV.
  • Learn what triggers your MG. What can you do to avoid it and can you rest before and after?
  • Learn strategies to handle stress, such as special breathing techniques.
  • Don’t give up on things you love to do, unless you have to.

If you love gardening as I do, maybe you need to cut back on how big it is, or shorten your time while golfing, biking, hiking, and more. It may be temporary.

These suggestions are something I didn’t do much of, but should have. Remember, tomorrow is another day.

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