Olympic Hopeful Diagnosed with Rare Autoimmune Disorder

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The Doctors meet guest host Judge Mary Chrzanowski’s niece, Sarah, who shares the life-changing story of her discovery that she has a rare autoimmune disorder. Sarah was on track to represent the U.S. as a world-class diver in the Olympics but before she got the chance, she started to experience unfortunate symptoms of her disorder.

While in college Sarah was selected to compete in the World University Games in Thailand. While there, she felt like her eyes were going cross-eyed and her legs felt like they were going to give out. She went to the eye doctor who said her vision was fine, so she decided to compete but says that she crashed almost every dive.

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Back in the states, beginning to train for the Olympics, Sarah continued to feel off. She says she felt exhausted all the time and when she could barely do ten sit-ups, she knew something was wrong. Sarah went from one doctor to the next, even took a trip to the ER, and each time she was told her tests came back normal and that she was perfectly fine. 

Sarah was extremely frustrated and took matters into her own hands. When she came across the autoimmune neuromuscular disorder, myasthenia gravis, she knew that was what she had. She went to the doctor who confirmed her belief. Sarah was relieved for a diagnosis but unfortunately, she learned that there is no cure.

Sarah joins The Doctors who applaud her for being her own health advocate. She also likes to educate others about her disease and even created a contraption that simulates what her body feels like with this disorder. Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra explains with myasthenia gravis the immune system, for reasons we don’t understand, attacks the receptors that receive the signal that tells the muscles to contract. That is why Sarah has such a hard time with muscle control and with double vision. Thankfully, the disease is not degenerative, which means it won’t continue to get worse.

Sarah explains her disease leaves her body feeling exhausted. She gets tired and weak and then her body can recover and the next day she may feel the same symptoms, or she may feel fine, it depends on the day. Her husband Shawn is in the audience and he shares that he is amazed by how positive she can stay with what she is going through.

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Sarah attributes her faith as a big part of what keeps her strong. “I know I don’t have to deal with this forever. In heaven, I’ll get a new body. I just have to deal with this temporarily.” 

Sarah is no longer able to dive however, she is thankful for what she has in her life. She went back to school to become a teacher, got her masters, got married, and is now expecting! 

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