Inland Empire Myasthenia Gravis walk set for Nov. 19 in Menifee’s Spirit Park

Esther Bolger and her husband David were enjoying their “Golden Years” in Menifee’s Sun City when suddenly in 2014 David’s eyelids began drooping for no apparent reason.

In a very short time he became exhausted with little exercise. He had trouble swallowing and a trip to the doctor was in order.

Fortunately, the newer doctor they visited saw something in his diagnosis that suggested a very rare condition called Myasthenia Gravis and treatment for the auto immune disease began, Esther Bolger said. Myasthenia gravis means “grave muscle weakness.” Unfortunately, effective treatment was there, but the cause is still a mystery and the medications for treatment are very expensive. There is no cure.

“David was afflicted with the five most prominent symptoms within a short period of time, making his diagnosis easier, Esther Bolger said. “In retrospect, we found he had had several of the symptoms off and on for many years.”

As his disease progressed, David Bolger’s speech became slurred, and sometimes his breathing became harder, threatening him with what is called a Myasthenia Crisis that if not treated quickly can be fatal. It has been an uphill battle since with medications reaching $1,500 per month, Esther said.

Three years later, the Bolgers’ are still faced with the effects of this disease. They keep researching trying to find out about the disease and about others who have had or are experiencing the same debilitating effects. They’ve learned the disease is very rare with a prevalence rate of only 20 per 100,000 populations, according to the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America.

“We began a search for a support group and found none locally,” Esther Bolger said. “After getting in touch with the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America, we decided with their tremendous help to start our own group.” It was hard for the first support group to get together since some members lived as far away as Culver City.

She said the small group meets as often as they can, and they are now planning the second Inland Empire MG Walk, Nov. 19, in Menifee’s Spirit Park.

“It was very hard to find other people like us who had the disease,” Esther Bolger said. “This group has nonprofit status, and this helps me to use our local Menifee Library for our meetings.”

They held their first MG Walk in Lake Elsinore last year that drew few walkers. This year, they are seeking even more walkers.

“Last year there was an MG Walk in Lake Elsinore, and we were able to reach many people,” Esther Bolger said. “This walk is held to make people aware of the disease and to raise money for research. Although the affects of the disease are known, and there are effective treatments, the cause for it is still a mystery.”

It is known that Myasthenia Gravis can attack any age group, but it is harder on older people.

“We are in our 70s, and David values having others with whom to share,” Esther said.

Check in for the Inland Empire MMG Walk will begin 9 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 19, in Spirit Park, 25507 Normandy Road, in Menifee. The finishing ceremony is set to begin at 10 a.m. The goal is raise $15,000 this year.

Register to walk, volunteer or donate, visit www.mgwalk.org/inlandempire/.

“Come and join us for 2017 Inland Empire MG Walk, as we continue taking ‘steps’ toward the ultimate finish line…a world without myasthenia gravis!” Esther Bolger, facilitator Inland Empire MG Support Group, said.

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