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Zayd’ah just thought she had a common cold

Zayd’ah delivered mail for the U.S. Postal Service. It was a good job, but when she came home at night, she was always tired. She thought it was just part of the job, but then she began to cough and the fatigue worsened to the point where she couldn’t even play with her three children.

Zayd’ah went to the doctor, thinking she had a common cold. The doctor noticed that her speech was slurred. She remembers what he said to her. “You don’t have a cold. I think it’s something else.”

The doctor referred her to a neurologist who performed nerve tests and diagnosed her with Myasthenia Gravis, a chronic neuromuscular disorder which impairs the connection between nerves and muscles and causes people to get very weak. In her search for treatment, Zayd’ah visited hospitals across southeast Michigan. Her symptoms continued – breathing became difficult and she couldn’t hold her head up – so she went to see a specialist at Harper University Hospital.

Richard Lewis, M.D., examined Zayd’ah and immediately knew she had to be admitted to the hospital. “When I first saw Zayd’ah about a year and a half ago, she came into my office and we had to admit her to the hospital right away. She was barely breathing,” Dr. Lewis said.

“If he would have sent me home,” Zayd’ah said, “I’d have been in real trouble.”

Once admitted, she was placed on a ventilator and Dr. Lewis began treating her. He quickly discovered Zayd’ah had an unusual form of Myasthenia Gravis. “It’s a newly identified variant on the disease,” Dr. Lewis said. “Characteristic of this form of the disease, she has a lot of problems in her neck and shoulders, breathing and swallowing. She doesn’t have much trouble in her arms and legs. It’s a lot harder to treat these patients.”

Still, under Dr. Lewis’s care, Zayd’ah’s condition has improved. “When I first got sick, I couldn’t do anything but lay around. Now I’m more alert and can function a lot more. I’m able to do a lot of things I couldn’t do back then.”

As you can imagine, she’s happy she found Dr. Lewis and credits him and the caring people at Harper University Hospital with her turnaround. “I really think the doctors at Harper take better care of you than a lot of other places I’ve been,” she said. “They have more time for you. Dr. Lewis explains everything he’s doing to you and if you don’t understand, he takes time to explain things.”

Today Zayd’ah feels much better than she once did. She is going to college – she wants to become an electrical engineer – and, for the first time in years, she is able to play with her kids. It’s a good thing; her 6-year-old really keeps her on her toes.
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