LaShan Davis, featured this week on The Discovery Channel's "Mystery Diagnosis" spent three 10-hour days filming the segment and reliving the terrifying time she spent waiting for her "mystery disease" to be diagnosed.
Davis, a retired Federal employee, has polymyositis. Although she still struggles with myositis-induced weakness and lung involvement, Davis said the time and energy spent on her national telelvision debut was worthwhile.
“This is one way I can try to help other people avoid some of this,” said Davis, who lives in Richmond, Virginia. She noticed mysterious symptoms of weakness, night sweats and shortness of breath while pregnant with her daughter, Sidney, who also appears in the segment. Davis is shown with her rheumatologist, Dr. Lisa Christopher-Stine, in scenes at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, in her home, and in the studio. Once diagnosed and treated, her health improved greatly. Watch Davis's riveting story throughout the next week. Times vary, so consult local listings at http://health.discovery.com.
Polymyositis is an autoimmune disease, like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and psoriasis. It is often misdiagnosed because it tends to begin slowly, with weakness worsening so gradually that people sometimes think they're just out of shape, or “getting old.” It is one of a family of rare diseases that are particularly elusive and difficult to diagnose.
Another form of myositis, inclusion-body myositis, affects people older than 50 and has no effective treatment. Healthy muscle fibers disappear as inflammatory cells attack them, and swallowing becomes difficult as throat muscles weaken. A third form of myositis, dermatomyositis, attacks the blood vessels around the muscles and results in a rash as well as muscle weakness; and a juvenile form causes severe weakness and other complications in children. Parents report watching their school-age children revert to crawling as muscles become too weak to support their bodies.