Home and Healthy for the Holidays
Last updated: November 2021
There’s an old joke going around: "If you discuss politics at the Thanksgiving table, you will have fewer Christmas gifts to buy." It certainly doesn’t reflect family values! But sometimes there are conversations that family and friends have to have before family celebrations for the health and safety of everyone.
Talking about MG
That’s especially true if someone has a condition like myasthenia gravis (MG). People often find it hard to talk about in the best of circumstances.
The symptoms are almost all internal, they vary by the day, and are hard to understand. Even harder to convey is the caution that a person with MG has to exercise to remain stable and avoid flares.
Whether your family roasts a big turkey and tryptophan-blurred football fests, or celebrates with ethnic food and table games, the common factor is very likely to be a lot of company traveling to that table.
Risk of infection
Unfortunately, that means the chance of spreading infections. The past 2 years the specter of COVID has made the risks of passing more than the gravy very real. But even colds and flus can be real threats to a person struggling with myasthenia gravis.
So if a conversation about the things that can cause flares hasn’t occurred, it probably should happen sooner rather than later.
It’s not rude - just common sense to say: "I cannot take a risk of infection. It could be a lot more serious for me than for most. If you are ill, please stay home."
Protection from vaccines
In most families, among the holiday blessings will be the protection of vaccines. But the CDC estimates that perhaps 40 percent of so-called "breakthrough" cases occur with people who are immunosuppressed or who take immunosuppressant drugs like prednisone.1
They are now recommending a fourth mRNA jab for some of these folks. So extra precautions may certainly be worth taking - and worth discussing with family and friends.2
Managing medication schedules
Of course, there’s more to a healthy holiday season than just avoiding viruses. That table full of food is a risk in itself. It might mean eating at odd times or in odd combinations, interfering with a normal medicine and food routine.
Staying in line takes real self-control, and that might require a little help from your family and friends. Let them know in advance.
If you need to step into the kitchen for a small meal instead of waiting for the mother lode, so be it. Drugs like prednisone can make the effects of a sugar binge more serious.3
Coping with the stress
And at the most basic level, the holidays are often just plain stressful. Relationships can be strained. Schedules are disruptive. Expectations are almost always higher than reality.
So as you prepare for a joyful and healthy season, it’s important to prioritize yourself. Set small goals, strict schedules, and realistic measures of success. Value community - including this one.
As 2022 approaches, don’t make a list of things that can’t be done right now. Rather, set small but realistic goals on that resolution calendar. Small gains can be big gifts for the New Year.
Sharing your needs
And finally, don’t be shy about playing Santa for yourself. You can share a wish list or just splurge on yourself. Warm cuddlies, low-level exercise equipment, a jazzy but secure mobility aid, even a therapy pet ... if you don’t let others know what you need who will?
Whatever you do, however you celebrate, accept the gift of community support. We are here for one another.
How often do you experience MG exacerbations/flares?