The lady who thought she was crazy Essay

A little past five o’clock on the afternoon of October 11, 1978,
a young black woman shuffled on the arm of a friend into the emergency
room of Alvarado Community Hospital, in San Diego, California, and asked
to be admitted for psychiatric help. Her name, she said, was Sheila
Allen, her age was 24 and her complaint (as later interpreted and
standardized and noted on her chart) was “bizarre behavior, with
looseness of thought associations and severe depression associated with
suicidal thoughts.” She was admitted after a brief examination to
the psychiatric wing, and was made comfortable there in a double room.
The following day, and for several days thereafter, she was examined,
tested and variously observed. The results of these evaluations were
inconclusive, and on October 16 a member of the psychiatric staff named
Robert Brewer was appointed attending physician.



“I went in to see her after rounds the next morning,” Dr.
Brewer says. “She was sitting on the edge of the bed–sitting
there with the help of a nurse. She was tall, with a beautiful figure,
a beautiful face and beautiful, wide-apart eyes. She was also pathetic.
She didn’t seem to have any strength at all. She couldn’t
walk. She could hardly sit up. She could hardly lift her arms. I
introduced myself and made some getting-acquainted talk. I took her
history and did a routine physical and checked her mental states. She
was just as weak as she looked. She was well oriented and alert. There
was some evidence of conversion hysteria. I finished up with a lot of
history and a lot of problems, but no strong impressions in any
direction. I was inclined to go functional, but not entirely. I did a
residency in neurology, and I always try to keep the organic possibility
in mind. I started thinking ‘multiple sclerosis.’ Her age,
for one thing, was right. Multiple sclerosis is a young person’s
disease. But I’m a listener. I think that if you listen long
enough your patient will usually tell you what the trouble is. So I
asked her what she thought was her trouble. She said, ‘I’m a
kook.’ I said, ‘Maybe so, but before we go that road I’d
like you to see a neurologist I know.’ She almost blew up. I
think she might have hit me if she’d had the strength. She said,
‘I don’t want to see a neurologist. I’ve seen a dozen
neurologists. I’m a kook. I’m in the kook hospital. I want
you to fix up my kookiness’ But I wasn’t convinced. And that
afternoon I called Fred Baughman, the neurologist I had in mind.”

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I met Sheila Allen in the spring of 1983, some five years after
that pitiful outburst. We met, by prearrangement, in San Diego, in the
office of Dr. Brewer’s neurological colleague Dr. Fred Baughman,
Jr. She looked good–the picture of health, and beautiful, and entirely
free (if she had ever been otherwise) of kookiness.



“Oh, I was,” she told me. “I was a kook. I had to
be, after what I’d been through. If a person can be driven crazy,
that was me. But, of course, I wasn’t really crazy. I was simply
in despair. I had been sick for so long–for almost four years. I was
getting sicker and sicker. I was almost helpless. I went to Alvarado
Hospital because I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I had
finally given up.



“I don’t know when my trouble actually started. I mean,
it came on so innocently. I guess it began in Dallas sometime in 1974.
No, I’m not from Dallas. I was born in the Chicago area–in
Maywood, Illinois. But when I was 14 my parents moved to Los Angeles,
and I went to high school there. I ran track, and I was a cheerleader.
I’ve always liked sports. I’ve always loved to run and dance
and bike and that sort of thing. I went to Cal State, at Northridge,
for a year, and I studied physical education. I went to Dallas because
I wanted a change. Tehre were no problems at home, or anything like
that. I just wanted a change. I got a job at a Sears store,
demonstrating cosmetics. Then a friend told me that Braniff was hiring
flight attendants. I had an interview, and they hired me and sent me to
their school–six weeks of emergency procedures, first aid, posture,
grammar, how to prepare the meals. I was based in Dallas, and I flew
every stop between there and Chicago and sometimes New York–all over.
I think March of 1974 was when the trouble first began. I was out
dancing one night, and my legs gave out on me. I mean, I fell down.
But I was able to get right up, and I said it was my high heels.
That’s what I thought. So I went to lower heels, and then one
night it happened again. It was just like that first time. I was able
to get right up and go on. Nobody seemed to think anything of it. So I
wasn’t really worried. But when I had my regular Braniff physical
in August I mentioned it to the doctor. He gave me an extra-careful
checkup and passed me. He said I was in great shape. He said I was
probably just tired–too much standing. Well, flying is all standing.
You hardly ever sit down on a flight. So that made sense. But then my
legs began to hurt. I wasn’t just tired, I also hurt–at the end
of a flight, or walking through the airports. Like O’Hare. Or,
especially, Dallas. You know how big it is. We were always having to
walk from Gate 1 to Gate 22. My legs would cramp. It was a real tight
pain. I would have to sit down and rest for a couple of minutes. Then
I’d be all right. But all the girls were always complaining about
being tired, so I still didn’t think too much about it. Until it
began to affect my arms. Just lifting two trays, and my arms would
begin to tremble. It seemed like they didn’t want to hold. Even a
coffeepot was almost too much for my strength. I tried to get more
sleep. But I just got tireder and tireder. And I began to almost miss
flights because I ahd to sit down so often along the concourses and
rest. So what I did was just get up earlier. If there’s one thing
I’ve got, it’s will power. I drove myself as hard as I could.
But I was getting worried now–real worried. I went to a doctor one of
my friends knew. He said to take it easy. Stop driving myself so hard.
He gave me a prescription for Valium.


“That would have been around the end of 1974. I thought maybe
I wasn’t eating right. It’s hard to eat right when
you’re flying. All too often, after we had served the passengers
their lunches or dinners there wouldn’t be any food left. Most of
the girls carried candy bars for those emergencies. I carried what I
called my survival package–tuna fish and peanut butter and crackers and
raw carrots and lots of vitamins. A lot of the girls recommended a shot
of bourbon at bedtime. I tried that, and it was all right, but I
couldn’t see that it helped me any. I had to realize that my
tiredness was different from the other girls’. So finally–I think
it was in October, or maybe November, of 1975–I tried again. I went to
an orthopedic specialist. I told him about my legs, how weak they
were–and my arms. He looked me over; he was very thorough. But he
couldn’t find anything wrong. He said it was probably my job–the
standing and the stress, and all that. His advice was to quit, to take
a leave or something. But I loved flying. I loved my job. And I loved
the money. I had a little Opel GT sports car. I had a nice apartment.
I had a wonderful life. So I kept on working–getting to the airport
early enough so I could make it to the gate, and getting back home
late–and resting every change I got. I stopped talking about my
problems to the other girls. I didn’t want them to say anything.
I wanted to keep my job. But I was only fooling myself. It was just
too much for me. In February of 1976, I asked for a vacation, and they
gave me three weeks’ leave. I went to my favorite place–to
Hawaii. I relaxed and rested and tried to enjoy myself. The three
weeks went by, and I was the same as always. I just didn’t have
any strength. I went back to Dallas and gave my two weeks’ notice.
I said I had personal problems. Which was true enough. My sister Enid
flew in from L.A. and drove me home in my little Opel–back home to my
parents.



“It’s hard to explain just how I felt. I was worried
about feeling so tired and weak. But I still really thought it would go
away. I still really thought I’d get better. Anyway, I
couldn’t just sit around the house. That isn’t my way. I
went out and got a job–two jobs, as a matter of fact. I got a daytime
job demonstrating cosmetics again. I worked in various stores doing
make-up. And at night I worked as a cocktail waitress in a club. I
suppose that was kind of foolish. Because I had the same old
trouble–the same problem with trays, the same problem with all the
standing and walking. I had to wear heels at the cocktail job, and, of
course, that made things that much worse. Every now and then, I dropped
a tray. I could tell when it was coming on–I’d think, There goes
the tray. The other waitresses dropped things, too. But they only
dropped a glass or something. I dropped the whole tray. But the boss
was crazy about me. That made everything O.K. This was in the summer
of 1976. But finally the boss got to be too much for me. I had to
quit. I had already quit the cosmetics job. Two jobs were too big a
load for me, and the cocktail job paid better. When I quit that, I got a
daytime job as a hostess in a restaurant at the beach. I guess I knew
by then that there was something really wrong, but I wanted to work. I
missed that airline income. It’s hard to change when you get used
to a certain level of living.



“When I first came home to L.A., I had gone to the family
doctor. He couldn’t find anything wrong with me. Then I met a
chiropractor at a party and told him my problem. He checked me out and
couldn’t find anything wrong, either. He referred me to a woman
psychologist. She game me an IQ test. That only told her that I was
bright. So she gave me another test. And then another. She never
seemed to try to think anything out–she just kept giving me tests. I
decided she was a waste of time, and quit. I also quit my hostess job.
I had to–I was getting weaker every day. Everything I did hurt. It
hurt to comb my hair. My arms were so heavy and weak. It was hard for
me to drive my car. Once or twice, it was really frightening. I’d
try to brake or something, and my foot wouldn’t move. One Sunday
afternoon, I took my little three-year-old niece to the park. When we
were driving home, a traffic light up ahead turned red and I started to
brake and I couldn’t lift my foot. Oh, my God! I thought.
I’m going to kill us both. I told my niece to get down on the
floor. I hung on to the wheel and we sailed across the intersection.
Thank God, there was nobody coming. I don’t know how I ever made
it home. That was the last time I drove. I was at home now all the
time. But I had problems even there. I don’t know how many times
my legs gave out and I fell down the stairs. They were carpeted, thank
God, so I wasn’t hurt much. That was going down. Climbing the
stairs, I practically had to crawl. My mom was a problem, too. She
kept saying I was just trying to upset her. She didn’t really mean
that. The real reason was that she couldn’t bear to think there
was something wrong with me. And my sisters. We would be getting ready
to go out somewhere, and it took me so long to get ready they’d go
off without me. I got so I was crying a lot. I’d try to pick up a
glass, and my arm would go limp. And I’d say, ‘Oh,
no!’–and fall into a chair and just cry.



“But I still hadn’t given up. When I quit going to that
woman psychologist, my chiropractor friend suggested I see a
psychiatrist. I was going out with the chiropractor some, and he was
really trying to help. He was convinced that my trouble was
psychosomatic. I didn’t know what to think. Some days I was
better, and some days I was worse. Some days I could get dressed and go
out and everything was almost like normal. Then the next morning I
couldn’t even fix breakfast. I had a drawer full of
prescriptions–Valium, Elavil, Equanil, all those drugs. Every doctor I
went to see prescribed something. I tried them all and I couldn’t
see any difference. I couldn’t see that any of them helped. So I
went to a psychiatrist. He was a white guy. Some of the doctors
I’d seen were white. Some were black. Anyway, I went to this
psychiatrist once a week. We talked. We went over everything I’d
been told by all the others. He said I must face it–I had a
psychosomatic problem. I liked him; he was a nice man. He made me feel
better about myself, which helped. But I didn’t really believe
what he said. Then I had my family–my mother and my brother and my
three sisters–on me. They made it perfectly plain. They said I was
crazy. I said to myself that they were crazy.



“About that time, in December of 1976, I met a nice guy from
San Diego. He was a big guy–6’6” and 270 pounds. His name
was Ira Watley, and he had been playing offensive tackle for Miami.
He’d just got cut. He was going back home to San Diego, and he
suggested I come with him–get away from my family. He knew they were
driving me nuts. I thought about it. Then one morning I woke up and I
almost couldn’t get out of bed. But I made it, and started down to
breakfast, and fell. I fell all the way down the stairs. I didn’t
know whether I was hurt or not–I hurt all over anyway. I must have
looked awful, because my mother helped me up and took me to the
emergency room of a hospital a few blocks away. There was a young
doctor on duty. He examined me, and everything–my arms and legs and
all. He said to wait, and went away. He came back with a textbook and
he stood there studying it. Then he said, ‘I would think you might
have myasthenia gravis, but the symptoms aren’t right. Myasthenia
gravis starts with the eyes and face, with drooping eyelids and trouble
swallowing. You don’t have that.’ He said he thought I ought
to see a psychiatrist. He gave me a prescripton for Elavil.



“That made up my mind. I went to San Diego with Ira. He was
really understanding. He wanted to get married. I didn’t think
so–not right then. But I was feeling a little better and getting a
little restless. I wanted to do something. Ira suggested I go to
school–to a business college he knew about. So I enrolled. That was
in February 1977. But it was the same old story. I wasn’t really
any better. The school was on the second floor–a walkup–and those
stairs were too much. I would go late, so people wouldn’t see me
struggling. It was one step and rest, another step and rest. Some
days, I could go three steps without resting. I was taking typing. And
finally I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t hold out my arms. It
was a three-month course, but I never finished it. After that, I just
stayed home. Except to go to the doctor. I had already seen a couple
of doctors in San Diego. One was a regular internist. The other was a
neurologist. They were like all the rest: psychosomatic, Valium. But
Ira kept pushing me to keep trying to get some help. I even went to a
doctor in La Jolla who tried to hypnotize me. I wouldn’t
hypnotize, and that frustrated him. He told me I didn’t want to
get well. Then I tried an orthopedic surgeon. He asked me to lift my
arms. I couldn’t do it. He stumped out of the room. He said he
couldn’t help me because I wouldn’t cooperate. Then I tried
another psychiatrist. I had four or five visits. The psychiatrists and
the psychologists were all alike: What did your last doctor say? I see.
Well, I agree. Psychosomatic. I’m going to give you a prescription
for an antidepressant. Some of them started with my childhood. Some
started now and worked back. I told them I had a normal childhood–a
normal middle-class childhood. I told them I didn’t hate my
parents, and they didn’t hate me. They were loving parents. The
psychiatrist I went to four or five times, he saw Ira when Ira brought
me to his office. I told you Ira is a very big man. So this doctor had
a new idea. He asked me if Ira beat me.



“I started getting completely worse in June–June of 1978, Ira
was away. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers had signed him on, and he was
training up there in Canada. He had arranged everything before he left.
He had his father come over and look after me. He sent me his check
every week, and one of his friends–either Frank or Drake–would take me
to the bank and to the supermarket, or wherever. Frank was very
sympathetic. He had been in Vietnam and had some therapy. He persuaded
me to try the state mental-Health center. I joined their group-therapy
class. I went for a while, But the classes were kindergarten stuff, and
I wouldn’t take the drugs they offered. Elavil was one of them,
and it actually seemed to trigger more weakness. It seemed to actually
loosen my muscles. I had some bad experiences even without drugs.
I’d sit down in a chair, and when I wanted to get up I
couldn’t. I’d have to wait for Ira’s dad or somebody to
help me. It got so I was afraid to cook, I remember one afternoon I had
some vegetables on the stove. I left the kitchen and fell, and I
couldn’t get up. I just lay there smelling them burn. The house
was full of smoke when Ira’s dad came in and turned off the stove.
It was an awful feeling. I wasn’t good for anything. I used to
sit and meditate and pray. I’d fix my mind on, say, fishing or
shopping, and try not to think of anything else. I did a lot of
praying. I’d say the Lord’s Prayer over and over and over.
It helped me, I think, I prayed in bed in the morning, too. I kept a
Bible by the bed. In the morning, when I woke up, I’d read or
pray, and finally I’d have the strength to get up. One morning, I
couldn’t comb my hair. I didn’t have the strength. I finally
had to lay my head on the sink, and that way I could use my arms a
little. There was another time. Drake and his brother Lee took me
fishing with them out on the park dock. After a while, I went to the
bathroom. I sat down on the toilet, and I couldn’t get back up.
Nobody came in. I yelled and yelled, and finally Lee came in and got me
out.



“I think that was about the last time I went out anywhere. I
knew I was reaching the end of the line. My muscles were getting weaker
and weaker. I had to rest more and more. I knew that pretty soon
I’d be helpless. I had to do something before it was too late. I
decided my only hope was to get hospitalized. And I knew that the best
way I could get hospitalized was to talk depression and suicide. That
was one thing I’d learned from all those psychologists and
psychiatrists. The hospital I picked was Alvarado Community Hospital.
It was the nearest one to Ira’s apartment. It got Frank to drive
me there, and he had to practically carry me into the emergency room. I
told my story, and they took me in. I remember that date. I remember
it very well. It was Wednesday, October 11, 1978, late in the
afternoon. But the date I really remember is the following Wednesday,
October 18, around noon. That was the day I met Dr. Baughman. He came
into my room and looked me over and told me what my trouble was. I had
myasthenia gravis.”



“Well, yes,” Dr. Baughman said to me. “It was
almost as quick and easy as that. I was pretty sure the minute I saw
her that her trouble was myasthenia gravis. The only other possibility
was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and she was much too young for
that.” Dr. Baughman is a slight, wiry man of 50, with a bang of
sandy gray hair and a wide, warm, country-boy smile. He was smiling
now. “But it wasn’t magic. Myasthenia gravis is a special
interest of mine. I trained at Mt. Sinai, in New York, and Mt. Sinai
has a rather famous myasthenia-gravis research laboratory. Some
important work has been done there. So I learned about myasthenia
gravis early, and it is always on my mind. There is a saying about
diagnosis–about why doctors often fail to recognize one of the less
common diseases. It goes, ‘When you hear hoofbeats, you don’t
necessarily think of a zebra.’ I recognized the hoofbeats of a
zebra. That was my only magic. I won’t say myasthenia gravis is a
common disease. But it isn’t a rarity, either. The national
occurrence rate is one in 20,000. I see my share, because I’m
aware. I average three to five new cases a year. Women seem to be more
susceptible than men–particularly young women. Myasthenia gravis is a
good descriptive name. The ‘my’ refers to muscle, and
‘asthenia’ come from the Greek for weakness. It isn’t as
gravis–as serious–a disease as it once was. It was first described in
the 17th century, and it was named around the end of the 19th century,
and in those days and up until the middle 1950s it was very often fatal.
There is a treatment now. But, of course, it can’t be treated if
it isn’t diagnosed. That’s the problem. In that respect,
Sheila was a classic case.



“I remember my first look at Sheila. Bob Brewer had called me
and said he had some doubts about a psychiatric patient at Alvarado, and
would I take a look. So the next day I went up to Four South when I
finished my regular rounds. The first order of business is the visual
impression. And oh, Lord! She was pathetic–truly pathetic. She was
lying in bed and not exactly crying–sort of whimpering. There was a
feeling of just hopelessness. Her beauty made it all the worse. I knew
the moment I saw her that there was a profound, generalized muscle
weakness. I called a nurse, and we got her sitting up. She tried to
help, but it was a genuine, real weakness. Nothing functional about it.
Her face was normal, and so was her speech. There was a slight nasal
character, but not much. I had the nurse get her to her feet and walk.
It was a definitely abnormal gait–it was a waddle. that indicated a
hip-girdle weakness. We have a scale of evaluation. It begins at zero,
then trace, then poor, then fair, then good. Sheila’s hip and
shoulder girdles were poor to fair. Her body and feet were in the good
range. The weakness was symmetrical, and there was just no question
about it. I knew her history, and I didn’t believe a word of all
those psychiatric evaluations. This was a serious muscle disease.



“It’s sad to think how close she came to an early
diagnosis. I’m talking about that young doctor up in Los Angeles.
He suspected myasthenia gravis, but he made the common mistake of going
entirely by the book. The books all emphasize that the presenting
symptoms are drooping eyelids, facial weakness and palatal weakness–difficulty in speaking. The classic teaching requires the
presence of one or more of those symptoms for a diagnosis of myasthenia.
I had one patient who was referred to me by an ophthalmologist. A man
had come to him complaining that he was losing his eyesight. The
ophthalmologist recognized that the cause of his failing sight was the
drooping eyelids of myasthenia gravis. I wish the textbooks were a
little less rigid. But the fact is that a mere suspicion of myasthenia
is enough, because there’s a quick and easy diagnostic test that is
almost entirely reliable.



“Myasthenia gravis is a fundamentally mysterious disease. I
mean the basic cause is unknown. It is generally thought to be one of
the several auto-immune disease–the consequence of some disturbance in
the body’s immune system. Antibodies appear in the blood that
interfere with the supply of a substance called acetylcholine, which
mediates neuromuscular function. I’m putting a highly complicated
process in very simple terms. The result of this inhibition is a
weakness much like the weakness induced by the poison curare, and the
treatment of myasthenia gravis has derived from an understanding of
curare intoxication. The site of the physiological defect in both
curare poisoning and myasthenia gravis is the neuromuscular junction.
In the absence of acetylcholine, the muscular response very rapidly
decreases. A period of rest will, at least for a time, restore
sufficient acetylcholine to allow for normal function, but only for a
limited time. Then the weakness returns. Drugs have been developed
that are antagonistic, in varying degrees, to the substance that
inhibits acetylcholine. One of these anticholinesterase agents is
involved in the diagnostic test for myasthenia gravis. Tensilon–or,
generically, edrophonium choride–has the power to restore almost normal
muscular function almost instantly, in a matter of moments. Its effect
lasts only moments, but a positive response to Tensilon is diagnostic of
myasthenia gravis.



“Tensilon was developed at Mt. Sinai in 1952, and I’ve
used it many times. The effect is always starting. I gave Sheila the
usual dose–ten milligrams, injected intravenously. I waited a moment,
and then checked her arm strength. There was resistance to
pressure–maybe 80 to 85 per cent of normal. So I asked her to get up
and walk. She said, ‘You know I can’t walk.’ I told her
to try. She gave me a doubtful look–and sat up. Then she stood up.
Then she walked across the room. It was a miracle. It’s always a
miracle, but this was one of the most miraculous. I’ll never
forget the look on her face. She was dazed. She was stunned. The
tears were running down her cheeks. I felt the way I always do when I
see that miracle happen. I felt–I don’t know–almost godlike.
Then she began to give out. I helped her back to bed. She collapsed.
It was all over.”



Sheila Allen was discharged from Alvarado Community Hospital on the
morning of Thursday, October 26, 1978. That was 15 days after the day
of her admittance and 8 days after her dramatic noonday meeting with Dr.
Baughman. In the cours eof those 8 days, she was introduced to another,
and more durable, anticholinesterase agent, called, Mestinon, and an
effective dosage (one 60-milligram tablet every four hours) was
determined. Tensilon is of only diagnostic value. The discharge
summary noted, “Discharged to outpatient treatment, to be followed
by Dr. Patricia Marrow for supportive psychotherapy (in adjusting to
the presence of a chronic debilitating illness) and by Dr. Fred
Baughman for control of myasthenia gravis.” Her condition, the
summary added, was “markedly improved.” It was indeed. The
friend who had helped her into the hospital was there to meet her on her
departure. She was pleased by his thoughtfulness, she was glad to have
his company, but she didn’t need his help. She walked out of the
hospital with the easy gait of any normal 24-year-old woman. She was,
for all practical purposes, a normal young woman, and two weeks later,
in early November, she was leading a normal life. She had a job
demonstrating cosmetics at a San Diego department store, and she was
attending evening classes at a school for real-estate brokers.



Dr. Baughman saw Miss Allen at his office soon after her hospital
discharge, and once a month thereafter. At their December meeting, on
December 5, he noted that her response to Mestinon was entirely
satisfactory. It was better than that of many other patients in his
experience, and inferior to none. Nevertheless, he watched her closely
and questioned her closely at their monthly meetings. There is always a
chance that Mestinon, or any other anticholinesterase agent, may in time
weaken in its mastery. There is a surgical procedure that can provide a
vigorous supplement to Mestinon therapy. This involves the removal of
the thymus gland. The thymus is one of the endocrine glands and is
situated in the windpipe, just below the thyroid gland. Its function
has to do with the development and maintenance of the immunological
system. The thymus develops rapidly in infancy, grows more slowly until
around puberty and then, in most people, begins to wither away. It has
been established that in victims of myasthenia gravis the thymus is
abnormally intact, and its functions seem to have been perverted into
the phenomenon of autoimmunity. In the course of the summer of 1979,
Dr. Baughman decided that Miss Allen would benefit from the removal of
her thymus, and he arranged with a thoracic surgeon named David M. Long
to perform the operation. Miss Allen was admitted to El Cajon Valley
Hospital on September 25 and underwent a transcervical thymectomy the
following morning. The operation was a complete success, and its good
results were immediately apparent. Dr. baughman noted that within less
than two hours Miss Allen’s muscular powers were stronger than at
any time since he had diagnosed her illness. On September 29, she was
discharged.



“Oh, sure,” Miss Allen told me toward the end of our talk
in Dr. Baughman’s office. “I knew that a thymectomy was a
serious operation. Dr. Baughman told me all about it. But of course I
agreed. Whatever he suggested was gospel to me. He was the messiah.
He is the messiah. I moved back to Los Angeles in January of 1980, but
we keep in touch–I’m still on Mestinon; I always will be–and I
see him here once a year. It seems to me that I feel better every day.
When I moved back to L.A., I had finished my real-estate course, and I
went in with my mother and father in their real-estate business. I also
did volunteer work for a while in a hospital in the neighborhood. I did
physical counseling. Then, in 1982, I heard about a new airline opening
up with flights between L.A. and Hawaii, and I applied, and they took me
on. I’m a senior flight attendant, and I do seven turnabout
flights a month. Between trips, I still work in real estate. The only
trouble I have now is trying to hold myself back. I don’t want to
walk–I want to run. I’m so full of strength and energy. I guess
I’m making up for lost time. I told my new boyfriend about my
myasthenia. He said, ‘So what?’ We dance all night.”

x

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