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Michael Graham

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 18, 2018

Michael’s Story:

 I went into the hospital in 1987 to have my tonsils, adenoids and uvula removed to help alleviate my snoring. I woke up hours later in an empty recovery room, with my wife and anesthesiologist next to me. I went to turn my head to look at my wife, but it seemed as though I was paralyzed. I could only talk and move my eyes...nothing else worked. I was told by the anesthesiologist, who happened to be the department head, that I had a malignant hyperthermia incident during my surgery. He went on to explain how this was a very rare genetic disorder. He also explained to me why I was unable to move. He explained that my muscles went through contractions, and compared it to having run several marathons back to back. They also would have to take me to the intensive care unit, where I could be monitored until I recovered. Doctors were also concerned about kidney damage. The anesthesiologist told me how lucky I was, and how close I had come to not making it. When the incident happened, they first replaced some of the equipment thinking it wasn’t working properly, but when they realized what was happening they went for the MH cart and called the MH hotline. I was in the ICU for about a week, before being moved to another hospital room for several more days. I gradually regained use of my arms, but my legs took much longer.  It took me several days before I was able to start walking, because all my leg muscles were so sore. It was like trying to walk with a Charlie horse. It also took a long time for my kidneys to return to normal, but they finally cleared up and everything seemed fine. You never know about malignant hyperthermia, until something like this happens to you or a family member. It appears as though I was the first, lucky me! But seriously I was lucky.....lucky to be alive! Since this is a genetic disorder, I had to notify members on both sides of my family. Everyone had to assume in the future that they also carried this mutation, and needed to notify the anesthesiologist before any surgical procedures. I went to Philadelphia, and had the caffeine muscle contracture test done and it was positive. I then had my 3 sons tested; 2 were positive and 1 negative. Others in our family also had testing done with several more positives. Needless to say, everyone carries the MH cards in their wallets, some have bracelets and others, like me, have medic alert necklaces. You can’t be too safe, and if you choose not to be tested, you should assume that you have MH. They still treat my son, who was negative, the same as if he were positive before any surgery. I am very grateful to MHAUS for the great strides they have made in the last 30 years in making more and more people aware of MH and for being on the MH hotline when it was needed for me. I’m also thankful for the continuation in genetic studies in order to help find a non-invasive way of testing for MH that doesn’t involve surgery.

As told by Michael Graham (age 69)


Views and opinions expressed on this page are only those of the individual telling their story. MHAUS has not clinically vetted the content. 

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