My MS Likes It Hot, and Florida’s Just the Place

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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Many people with MS avoid Florida. I crave it.

My wife and I finally returned here in early March, escaping dreary, rainy, and windy Maryland after we received our COVID-19 vaccines. Since we arrived, the weather has been wonderful, with few clouds and temperatures warm enough for swimming outdoors.

Swimming, or at least pool walking, is important to me. I try to walk at least 500 steps in the pool, and then swim a couple laps after every hundred steps, several times a week.

Physical therapy has been helpful to me, but exercising in the pool is better. I find its effects last longer, and it helps to improve my core strength. In turn, that improves my bladder and bowel functions, my sleeping, and my fatigue level.

Since returning to Florida, the sciatic nerve pain that shoots down my left leg is hardly noticeable. The heat also forces me to do a better job of hydrating, which is a good thing.

On the other hand, cold weather saps my energy and chills my bladder. My entire body feels stiff when it’s cold. The cold traps me inside my apartment, and Maryland’s dreary winter weather gives me a dreary attitude. I become a Maryland crab. It’s not a comfortable way to live.

I’d rather use a fan than a heater

If I get too hot in Florida, I can hide from the heat in my air-conditioned apartment or car. I can wear a cooling scarf or vest. Of course, I can also jump in the pool. When it’s freezing in February in Maryland, I can’t pile on enough clothing. In Florida, I live in shorts and a golf shirt.

There was a time when my MS preferred cold to hot. Back then, my legs would turn to rubber if I spent too long in the heat. That’s how it is with most people with MS. I’m not sure what changed with me. Maybe it was my Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) treatments. Maybe over the years I learned how to handle the heat better. Maybe it was just my body or my MS adjusting as I grew older. Whatever the reason, heat is a winner for me.

Maryland has a few benefits, too

Florida isn’t perfect. June brings annoying love bugs, attacking mosquitoes, really hot weather, and the start of hurricane season. By July, the heat and humidity can be more than even I can take. So, it’ll be back to Maryland for a few months of barbecues, beaches, and being near our grandkids, all of which are also important to my physical and mental well-being.

But when it’s time to throw on a sweater, I’ll start to feel the tug of the Gulf Coast currents. I know it won’t be long before I’ll be back at my feel-good place.

You’re invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

Babs avatar

Babs

You are lucky in that respect. My daughter, born and raised in Naples and diagnosed at 18 always feels better in the winter months. Her symptoms exacerbate greatly as it become hotter and vision blurs. I have tried to talk her into moving to another climate for this reason. I know MS is a designer disease but I sure wish she weren't one of those the heat is bad for.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Babs,

It's possible her problems with the heat will improve in time, or with medication, as did mine. Naples is such a lovely place (except for the traffic) that it would be a shame to leave. (We're just up the road in Punta Gorda.)

Ed

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Anita Simon avatar

Anita Simon

I’m here in Lake Worth (Palm Beach County). We had such a great winter. Just loved the change. Now, it’s starting to get hot again. Thankfully, low humidity at this point. I used to walk my dogs (individually) around 5p. I have bumped it up to 7p now. When I see a blue sky w/ no clouds, I’m like ‘oh no’. But it is, what it is. That heat is a killer for me, too. I count the months to October. When it’s hot, I stay in.

Just curious, on another topic, have you all had your Covid shot? Which brand and how do you handle it? I got my first shot (Moderna) 10 days ago. A couple days ago broke out in a rash and I have been feeling a bit under the weather. Nothing serious though. I am dreading the 2nd shot. 😬

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Anita,

Yes, the humidity has been unusually low but I do remember that things get sticky in June.

I've written two or three columns about my vaccine experience, which you can find by searching The MS Wire. My wife and I both had the Moderna vaccine in early February and March. In short, we both only had a slightly sore arm after #1. After #2 I had a little extra fatigue starting about 8 hours after the shot which had me sleeping a few hours later than usual the following morning. My wife had a moderately painful headache which lasted two or three days. That's it. More detail is in the columns.

Ed

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Colleen Bentley avatar

Colleen Bentley

Ed,
My body also prefers warm weather over cold weather! Dx 1993 at 24 yo. I moved from Illinois to South Florida (Boynton Beach ) in 1998. Cold has my nerves spasm and is painful. I think I should join a gym with a pool. LA Fitness just opened close to our home.
Take care!
Colleen Bentley

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Colleen,

You should check out the comment from George in northern IL. You and he should chat and compare IL vs FL notes!

Good luck on exercising. I'd like to be in a gym, to do upper body, as well as the pool but I'm being extra COVID cautious.

Ed

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Bill avatar

Bill

Thanks for this article. I have wanted to move from northern Illinois to the Port Charlotte area (or anywhere in SW Florida) for years but haven't figured that one out yet. Cold weather is horrible on PPMS for me and it's nice to read I'm not the only person with MS that likes warm weather.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

I think we need to start a "Some Like it Hot" club, Bill. But, sorry, little Punta Gorda is now closing its doors to newcomers. :-). It's a great area but I sure hope it doesn't outgrow its wonderfulness.

Ed

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George Gage avatar

George Gage

Diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis and MS 15 years ago. I’m now 76 and really struggle in cooler climates. Any breeze is discomfortable (even a ceiling fan)!
Enjoy warmer weather. My neurologist just shakes her head when I tell her this. Thought nobody else had this problem.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi George,

My wife says she's hot and cranks up the a/c. I'm already cool and now I'm cold and need to head for the loo. It's a daily routine.

Thanks for sharing,

Ed

Reply
Shelly avatar

Shelly

You would not be praising 'warm weather' if you lived in Arizona. It is mid April and we have already hit triple digit weather once and are predicted to hit over 100 again before the end of the month. I hibernate in the air conditioning from May to October. I have SPMS. Too cold and my muscles spasm, too warm and they turn to limp noodles.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Shelly,

You're right. That's not hot that's broiling. I'd be hibernating, too.

Ed

Reply
MARY E GAIN avatar

MARY E GAIN

I moved to Fl 21 years ago also from Maryland. I suffered badly from cold weather with my Ms of 40 years when in Maryland. I wondered about the heat of Fl and found that I suffer less in the heat than the cold, I stay in my home or take a ride in a cool car when the heat is really intense. The spasms were bad in cold weather and manageable in hot weather. However, I still take care not to overdue things, take PT and rest during tough times. Each day is different as you all know with MS.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Mary,

It sounds as if your experience is similar to what I'm learning, although 21 years ago the heat still bothered me more than the cold. Looking at your email address I'm guessing you're right up I-75 from us. My wife and I are in Punta Gorda. Have you ever had to evacuate because of a hurricane?

Ed

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