There is a call for greater awareness in Barbados for Myasthenia Gravis (MG) and it is coming from one of the island’s most outspoken advocates for the disease, Deanne Phillips. With the name translating from Latin and Greek to literally mean ‘grave muscle weakness’, Phillips is doing her best to educate Barbadians one at a time to the plight of the ‘snowflakes’ as they are nicknamed.
Speaking to The Barbados Advocate, Phillips noted that there were two types of MG – Ocular MG, which affects the eyes and manifests as a ptosis of the eyes, which looks like drooping or swelling and makes voluntary movement very hard; and General MG. Explaining that she did not have Ocular Myasthenia for very long before progressing quickly to General, Phillips stated that all cases were different and some persons had both or just one.
“General Myasthenia affects the muscles in your body like your arms, your legs and your breathing muscles. So the more you exercise a muscle, the weaker it gets. Something as simple as swallowing becomes very difficult.
A person who has Myasthenia Gravis, when they say they can’t swallow properly it is considered an emergency, because it means that the next step can be that the muscles that help them to breathe fail,” she said, adding that they would then have to be put on machines to assist breathing.