Drawn back to the Sunshine State, where my MS symptoms feel better

When living in Florida, my spasticity, bladder, and ability to stand are improved

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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I’m back in my happy place.

My wife, Laura, and I, along with our Yorkie-poo and our Maine Coon cat, have made it back to our Florida home after 16 hours and about 1,000 miles of driving over two days. There were no traffic jams, we had a comfortable motel bed, my multiple sclerosis (MS) bladder problems were pretty much under control, and Laura and I didn’t kill each other. So it was a good trip.

It’s not easy making this journey twice a year, since most of my moving is done on a mobility scooter. I also have the usual MS fatigue problems, and Laura has a horrible back. Between the two of us, we barely equal one able-bodied person. So you might wonder why we drag ourselves down here each fall.

I feel better

It may sound crazy, but after just two days, I’ve returned to standing in the shower. In our Maryland home, I’ve been sitting while showering for the past few months.

I’ve also returned to standing — well, mostly — when feeding the pets in the morning. In Maryland I’d taken to performing that chore on my scooter, so I wouldn’t have to squat. In Florida, however, my body feels healthier. My mind is more engaged and less stressed.

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I like it hot

Unlike many living with MS, the cold affects my symptoms more than the heat.

My bladder is better behaved when it’s warm. My spasticity and leg cramps bother me less in warm weather, too. And it’s more convenient here to swim in a pool and work out in a gym, both of which do me a world of good. I think the Florida sunshine and walking in the swimming pool help Laura, as well.

For us, 80 F is much better than 30, or even 50.

It’s also a social thing

Something else in our Florida life is important, I think: social activities and a sense of community.

In Florida we live in a community of interesting people, most of whom are retired from interesting jobs, and that leads to interesting conversations. I’m not a socializer by nature, but there seems to be something about this place that encourages me to chat, or even to start a conversation.

There are activities, too. It may sound like a cliché for old people, like Laura and me, but things like bingo, trivia, and Saturday morning breakfasts in the clubhouse keep me engaged several times a week. It doesn’t hurt that the breakfasts include mimosas or bloody Marys and that a bottle of wine is never out of place at the evening games and cookouts.

Maybe something else works the MS magic

Who knows? Maybe it’s not the sun or the temperature, nor the exercise, conversations, or fun and games. Maybe I feel better just because I’m more comfortable in my Florida bed.

MS treats each of us differently. Some of the things that make me feel better may not work for someone else with this illness. All I can do is go with my flow, and my flow leads me to the Sunshine State.

Where does your flow lead you? Please share with us in the comments below. You’re also invited to check out my personal blog at www.themswire.com.


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

Jim Wilson avatar

Jim Wilson

I'm with you on this one, winter is a time of continuous pain for me as the temperature drops and the sunshine reduces. I suspect a lot of the problem is all in my mind, but I can't forget what it was like when I lived in Zimbabwe, so a northern hemisphere winter leaves me severely restricted un)til spring and pining for the sun. Florida in the winter must be nice (says he basing the comment on an overnight stay in Miami during December once). We have nom equivalent in the UK

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Jim,

Yep, we're in the same boat. I've made of trips to several parts of the UK over the years and sunshine can be hard to find. Winter here is certainly preferable for me.

Ed

Reply
Kers Guy avatar

Kers Guy

I live in the FloriDUH Keys. I agree.plus being out in the fun provides more Vitamin D.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

FloriDUH, indeed! But it's warm and relaxing.

Ed

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SHARON BIVINS avatar

SHARON BIVINS

Why don't you live in Florida all year?

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Sharon - Hurricanes, mosquitoes, and grandkids in Maryland!

Ed

Reply
Ginny avatar

Ginny

Oh I'm so jealous! Sounds like a dream to be south. Good for you! So... I'm not the only one who feels worse in the cold and better in the heat! I did wonder! I get stiffer and stiffer here in the Canadian winter. I always say "My legs need oiling!"

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

No, Ginny you're not the only one. Just read some of the other comments here. :-)

Ed

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Wendy C avatar

Wendy C

I will share that I'm just like you. I live in the Syracuse NY metro area and we spend a lot of the year dealing with a very damp, wet cold climate. I do best when I have clear blue skies, when I can feel the warmth of the sun on my body, and when I am not shivering. The cold seems to make my muscles impossibly tight and I find it hard to maintain balance without furniture or wall surfing when moving around. Florida is an interesting place -- as the salt water works wonders on achy bodies, but sometimes the heat and humidity makes it impossible to be outside without becoming drenched.

I think that their is more to the sun than the resetting of our internal clocks and making of vitamin D. I think radiation (in appropriate doses) gives us energy. I am not sure how to explain it, but sitting under a special bright light does nothing for my mood or symptoms like working out in a pool or at the beach on a hot, sunny day. There's just something extra that we get when we are outdoors and in the sun that makes a huge difference in mobility and mood.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Wendy,

My wife and I both went to college in Ithaca (and I commuted between Ithaca and Binghamton for a weekend job) so I know what things are like in Central New York. There's no need to explain to me how you feel. I'm with you all the way.

Ed

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Marybeth Cully avatar

Marybeth Cully

Totally agree…we moved to Florida from Maryland in 2019, my life is busy fully and I do a lot more activities than I would be able to in Florida. We live in the Villages which is a perfect place to have mobility issues as it’s a golf cart community with recreation center and 4 squares that have live music everyday. I feel whole here even when I struggle.🤷‍♀️

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

I feel the same way, Marybeth. There are a couple of golf carts in my community in Punta Gorda but I do just fine with my scooter.

Ed

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Ellen Hopson avatar

Ellen Hopson

I agree. The cold causes my pain to skyrocket. I moved to Florida 6 years ago and didn't know a soul here. I'm convinced I would be in a wheelchair had I stayed where winters are rough. Water aerobics in the pool allow me to exercise without fear of falling and the flat terrain is easier to navigate on foot. Moving here was the best thing I've done to manage my MS.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Ellen,

Same here. My wife and I would be here year-round except for three things: hurricanes, mosquitoes, and grandkids in Maryland!

Ed

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MADELINE l NEWTON avatar

MADELINE l NEWTON

sounds great ...that is something we all need to remember it is what makes us feel the best at or where ever it is ...stay strong and keep on enjoying all of the great things that help you feel your best .....love and happiness is such a great kind of medicine that keeps us going strong ....keep on keeping on...

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Good thoughts, Madeline. Thanks for taking time to share them.

Ed

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