woman napping with her dog due to the importance of rest for myasthenia gravis

A Different Kind of Prescription

When I was first diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, I remember thinking that the Mestinon my doctor prescribed would just make all my symptoms go away. I remember him describing it as a Tylenol. Something I’d have to take every few hours so it could build up in my system and have a better chance of working.

Like Tylenol alleviates my headaches, I assumed Mestinon would resolve my double vision and my leg weakness. I assumed it would bring me back to normal so I could push on towards my day.

It came as a huge surprise to me when weeks later I’d still get double vision in the afternoon despite taking a Mestinon. I couldn’t continue working, driving, reading, or anything I really considered productive.

I ignored my body

Despite that, I refused to change anything about my lifestyle. I would just ignore my body and try to push through. I was overworked, sleep deprived, and stressed out.

It should come as no surprise that simply taking a pill at this point would not make all my symptoms go away, especially when I wasn’t addressing the reason I felt so awful in the first place.

The more we work and run our bodies into the ground, the weaker our muscles become. I needed a break.

A daily nap

One afternoon, I called my neurologist and explained that the Mestinon simply wasn’t working. I asked if he thought I should increase my dose or perhaps maybe he’d recommend a different medication. I’ll never forget his response. He told me that the only thing he’d prescribe me at that moment was a daily nap.

He told me that I needed to rest my eyes, my body, and my mind every day around the time that my vision started to go down hill. Rest is always the best medicine, especially for people like us who literally need it to regain our strength.

Misconceptions about rest

The problem was that up to that point, I always considered people who took naps as lazy. Our culture has a go-go-go mentality and I believed that the moment you slow down, you’re looked at as weak.

I believed, like many others, that the more you run yourself into the ground, the more successful you’ll become. It’s like a competition for who can do more, and do more quicker, even when your health and wellbeing are suffering.

I hadn’t even considered taking a nap. After all, I was a mom of 2 young boys running a successful business. I didn’t have time for a nap.

Exactly what I needed

There’s a saying that goes, "if you don’t take time for your wellness, you’ll be forced to make time for your sickness." I had reached that tipping point in my life and it was time to allow my body the rest it needed despite my preconceived judgements.

I was amazed at how quickly my vision improved when I woke up from those naps. It was exactly what I needed and exactly what the doctor ordered. Literally and figuratively speaking.

In hindsight, it was silly of me to even think that listening to your body and resting could make you less productive.

Knowing our limits

It takes more mental strength to force yourself to slow down and relax than it does to tackle a million and one things (and at the same time). Knowing our limits and learning to take a time out is essential to our health so we can do the things we want and the things we need to later.

I know it’s easy to sidebar the simple things like a daily nap when there are so many opinions about the more complex things to help us feel better; from pharmaceuticals and nutrition, to sleep and stress management.

It literally took my doctor "writing" me a prescription for daily naps to realize that you can only push so far before you end up in a flare or exacerbation. And while naps are not a cure, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try!

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