Mercy Neurologist Dr. Bonnie Gerecke Discusses Diagnosis and Treatment of Myasthenia Gravis in Women

December 8, 2014
The Neurology Center at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

Fatigue is a common symptom for many things, especially when it comes to auto-immune disorders. It can make them difficult to diagnose. Myasthenia gravis is one of them.

The disorder is more common in women under 40; as doctors work to discover why, living with it is better than ever before.

Shirley Terell has spent a lot of time with doctors over the last 17 years. She was diagnosed in 1997 with myasthenia gravis.

"When I first started the symptoms, it's like something wrong and you don't know," Terell said.

Not knowing was scary, and even though it was a long time ago, the Baltimore grandmother said getting the news she had myasthenia gravis was alarming.

Many doctors, like Dr. Bonnie Gerecke, Chief of Neurology at Mercy, believe it is common for people to react that way.

"It's a neuromuscular disorder in which a patient develops a weakness in the skeletal muscles, the voluntary muscles of their body," Dr Gerecke said.

The term myasthenia gravis comes from Greek and Latin. Gravis means severe, and myasthenia is muscle weakness. It's a misnomer these days because that term was coined when there were few effective treatments for the condition.

"Now with good treatments, patients are asymptomatic, have normal lives with normal life expectancy," she said.

Terell wanted to see Dr. Gerecke because her eye is bothering her -- a common symptom.

It can be easily helped through medication. Most days she doesn't even think about having myasthenia gravis.

"I don't want to think about the negative because there's such positive. I'm doing great now," Terell said.

Dr. Gerecke is glad patients, like Terell, will open up about myasthenia gravis so more people can know it's manageable.

View Dr. Gerecke’s interview with WBAL-TV11 re: diagnosis and treatment of myasthenia gravis.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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