A Reminiscence About Our Glorious — and Hot — Summer
Curiously, record high temperatures have been manageable for columnist John Connor
It was a glorious summer for those of us lucky enough not to be engulfed by forest fires, face crop destruction by severe drought, or have to manage the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis (MS), which are exacerbated by crippling heat. Over 60% of people with MS say they are affected by the summer heat.
Here in the U.K., it’s back-to-school week. In my ancient school days 50 years ago, “What I Did Over the Summer Holiday” was the unimaginative perennial essay I’d invariably be assigned to write. Not so much in class, but rather in detention. A maxim of composition is to write what you know. Why not take this a tad further and write what you’ve written many times before? Hurrah for detention!
In July, we had the hottest day ever recorded in the U.K., at 40 C (104 F). The temperature hit 37.8 C (100 F) across much of the southeast of England. Over the years, as my MS has gotten progressively worse, my reaction to heat has worsened. This year, though, I’ve been, er, relatively cool about it. Except for that hottest day — I didn’t even attempt to struggle on through. I went straight to bed after my morning shower and lay under a powerful fan set at full blast.
I now know how a house cat feels. I cursorily glanced at the telly, but it was just the comforting background noise of humans. Dozing, waking to drink and eat, then straight back to a hazy twilight of contentment. If anyone would’ve stroked me behind the ear, I may well have purred.
Gratifyingly, I was deeply surprised that heat no longer seemed to greatly affect me. I’ve learned to behave like Dracula and hide away inside during any hot daylight hours of summer sunshine. None of my forays into our back garden turned me into the gibbering wreck of the last decade. Indeed, I now wish I’d been braver.
Maybe it’s because I’ve transitioned into secondary progressive MS and seem to have arrived on some sort of plateau. It undoubtedly has an inexorable slope downward, but for the last two years, I haven’t noticed any major changes. If I’m now more inured to the heat, well that’s a positive.
In a reverse of Shakespeare’s opening line of “Richard III,” our glorious summer has come first, to be followed by a winter of severe discontent, as the West is enveloped by an economic “cold war.”
That’s not my usual lighthearted tag line, but as we disabled people have fewer resources, consequently, we also need the heating all the more. We are in the vice of world events. Still, global heating may make our winters milder, except for North America, which unfortunately, is often tortured by the polar vortex.
It’s a chilly prospect.
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