Right in the centre - This isn’t what I wanted


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

They told me, “You have MG.” I would much rather they had said, “You have an MG,” you know, the British sports car, a red one, fully restored and ready to roll. I would have figured out how to fit my somewhat older, chubby body into it. I really would have.

Instead, this older, chubby body has to learn how to cope with a different kind of MG– Myasthenia Gravis. Isn’t that a mouthful. Ironically, it affected my mouth, tongue especially, throat, eyes and maybe some effect on the arms. It’s a neurological disease that is not infectious nor genetic. Also on the irony side, my chubby body is about 20 pounds less chubby since the onset of the MG condition, so I would fit into an automotive type MG better than I would have before. 

Speaking of “auto”, this MG condition is an auto-immune disease. Here is the technical description. With Myasthenia Gravis, antibodies (immune proteins produced by the body’s immune system) block, alter or destroy the receptors for acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, which prevents the muscle from contracting. 

I was diagnosed pretty quickly, thanks to Dr. Poettcker at Neepawa and Dr. Tamayo at Brandon. The treatments take effect within hours, but I will be on meds for the rest of my life. I was five days in Brandon hospital and on three kinds of IV.

At the worst of my symptoms, I could not talk, only babble sounds, and could hardly eat because of severe choking. I think some of my staff preferred it when I couldn’t talk. The condition is considered serious and can be fatal. I am not afraid of death, as I know where I am going when my earthly days are done. The dying part is not something I am looking forward to, though.

I am thankful for all our health care people, they are a Godsend. I would say that as citizens, we need to do as much as possible to ensure that we keep our facilities well staffed, be it hospitals, clinics or care homes. Certainly, we pay a lot of taxes into health care, but that said, every time there is fundraiser for a clinic, a piece of hospital equipment, we should step up. Communities should always be willing to control what they can control.

Twenty years ago, I was part of the Manitoba Smart Network (MSN). That project made a good start on getting high speed internet into some western Manitoba communities along with equipment so that distance education and tele-health could begin. In the health care system, a tele-heath consultation sure beats a drive into Winnipeg or even Brandon. Many rural hospitals have that capacity and it is efficient and makes sense. As my wife, Christine, has noted in this space on occasion, she has an ongoing, now life-long health condition that needs to be monitored by two specialists in Winnipeg and there have been several phone and tele-health consultations. That is perhaps the one good thing that C-19 has motivated. The ability to do phone and tele-health consultations has been there for years, but now, they have been accelerated by the pandemic. They save time, money and gas and this is a good thing.

During trying times, we must remain motivated to do all we can for ourselves, for others and for our communities. It has always been thus, but now more than ever.