Tuesday, July 24, 2012

MS and Heat Do Not Mix!

There is a heat wave in a large portion of the US and Boston is no exception. My MS does not like this one bit!

Last week the weather was high 90's and very humid. Today is not much better. I must say on these kinds of days, I really do not mind being at work, in an office with AC! I am fortunate to have an AC unit at home and my apartment is fairly small, so the one AC keeps the whole apartment cool enough.
On days like these, my MS acts up more than usual, as I am sure it is the same for many people with MS. The heat intensifies symptoms, and for me the most annoying one is the increase in tingling throughout my body. Sometimes I feel like shouting to my body, “Enough already!”  You might think “Good thing she lives in New England when there are extremely cold winters!” Nope!! The winter and cold weather have a whole set of negative effects of their own. Luckily me! I am sure that it is not uncommon to many of you too, but it’s no fun.

It's only the end of July, so there is plenty more summer to go. To survive the heat as best I can, I stay indoors by the AC as much as possible. At times that can be a bummer, but I find a lot of activities to keep me busy, like writing! (I also love reading.)  I try to keep hydrated (which everyone should do, MS or not) but sometimes find it difficult as I am not water’s #1 fan. (Please don’t suggest flavored waters, I like those even less than regular water!) I also try to run errands early in the day when it’s the coolest out which works well since it is also when I have the most energy.

There are, however additional things I could do to help myself out, but I don’t. For example, my new car has a lovely remote start function, where I can start the car from indoors. This means if I leave the AC on in the car, when I get inside, it will be nice and cool. I haven’t used that function once this summer. I know, I’m bad! I think it is because when I first got the car I tried to use that function but I would set off the car alarm each time. Eventually a friend showed me another way to unlock the car that wouldn’t set off the alarm and that one time it worked. I guess I would rather get into a hot car than set the alarm off. Even as I type this, I feel silly, so my promise to you is to use the remote start function!!
Here’s to surviving the rest of the summer!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sometimes MS Makes Me Feel Older Than My Age

Since being diagnosed with MS in 2006, there are changes I have had to make to my life. For me, they have been fairly easy to make, but it did take some time to figure out what needed to happen.

Mostly the changes have had to do with my social life. These days if I am not in bed by 10pm, I pay for it the next day. I work full time as a receptionist in a periodontal office so something as simple as meeting friends for dinner after work can throw me off. On the weekends, I try to do my errands early and if I meet friends, I try to meet them for lunch or an early dinner.  Of course there are times when I make exceptions, and just plan to have the next day to recuperate, even if it means taking a day off from work. That doesn’t happen too often but there are events I don’t want to miss out on, like if there is a concert I want to go to or some other special occasion. Knowing that my body needs time to get back to “normal” has made things much easier for me.
It can be difficult explaining to friends why I can’t stay out as late as they would like, or why I can’t do anything after seeing a movie in a theater (though I have just about given that up) or go out on a day that is nearly 100 degrees! I found that this has gotten easier over the years as I have been able to discover what works best for me. I explained to friends that it wasn’t that I didn’t WANT to do these things, but I physically couldn’t handle it. Some friends were more understanding than others. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of MS and being one that you can’t see makes it even more difficult for people to understand. Everyone gets tired, but MS fatigue is an entirely different feeling.
MS also makes me feel older than I am when there is a lot of walking involved. About 8 months ago, I bought my first car! Before getting my car I would depend on other people for rides, mostly from my Mom (thanks Mom!) and take public transportation. Even with transportation at my finger tips, sometimes there is still a lot of walking to do to get around the city of Boston. My last relapse, over 4 years ago happened after walking too much. My legs go numb and get tingly after walking even short distances and standing tires me out. Even moving my arms in a repetitive motion makes them get numb and tingly. After resting, the symptoms go away, but it’s never fun to experience.  Of course when it is warm outside everything is worse and right now Boston is having some very hot weather -- which is why I am home typing this right now by my AC! 

So… I am thrilled to now have a car of my own! I still use the “T”, Boston’s subway service, to get into the city and have the added luxury of going wherever I need to on my own time with my car. With my 6 year diagnosis anniversary upon me, I am glad I have figured out what helps me feel as well as possible and with my new car I feel that I have gained a new found independence. I guess MS doesn’t ALWAYS make me feel older than my 32 years!