It’s Time to Start Thinking About Seasonal Adjustments and MS
The thought of summer approaching both worries and excites me. I’ve always preferred the changing of seasons and fair weather to the height of a season, even before my MS diagnosis. I prefer change and the idea of starting anew, as if it might be a remedy to the “hurricane” that MS has brought to my life.
I try to apply this idea to my daily life, although this year, I feared I was failing at seasonal adjustments, at least until recently. I’ve been feeling stuck in a bit of a rut. I realize that part of this is because the weather has been so variable lately here in the U.K. I’ve described before how temperature affects my MS symptoms. It used to be that I was entirely unable to tolerate heat in whatever form it took, but as the “hurricane” waned, it became swift changes in temperature that triggered symptom variation. That made seasonal adjustments difficult.
The severity of these temperature changes usually correlates with the severity of changes in my symptoms. So the typical variations of spring weather in the U.K., as much as I enjoy the season, have left me feeling constantly groggy and fatigued, despite taking fatigue medication. I think this is what has me feeling a little out of touch with myself.
My bladder usually is the first to let me know it’s unhappy. I might start having to go to the toilet more frequently, and in extreme cases, I won’t have any warning at all and it’ll cause an accident. As I wrote in my last column, however, my symptom management in this area has drastically improved. It’s better to be safe than sorry, after all, especially in situations like day trips, where the last thing I want is to worry about having an accident. That only detracts from the enjoyment of the day.
Every year, I look for new and different ways to keep my temperature as close to constant as possible. I’ve done this for five consecutive summers since being diagnosed in 2017. These have been five opportunities to learn and to manage my symptoms. It’s not as simple as it sounds, considering that for two of those five summers, the “hurricane” was in full force. But because my MS has been more stable recently, I’ve had more success with learning what works.
In the summer of 2019, I learned the importance of wearing light colors, and sundresses instead of jeans, and keeping ice pops in the freezer and water in the fridge.
In the summer of 2020, I was permanently in front of the fan, which wasn’t difficult because it was the first summer after the COVID-19 outbreak, so we weren’t allowed to leave the house anyway.
Last summer was similar to the previous year, which brings us to this year. There has been a change this year, in that we’ve bought a house. I’m already aware of how our new home, which was recently built, retains heat. We haven’t needed to turn on the heat since March.
On the flip side, however, I’m anticipating the upcoming warmer months with a bit of anxiety, especially regarding nights. We’re already sleeping with just sheets, and I miss the coziness of a duvet. The solution? We’ve invested in an air conditioning fan. I’d resisted this for a while, mainly because of the cost, but being so warm in the house so early in the year made me think that by midsummer, I’ll be thanking my lucky stars that I gave in and bought one.
Other ideas for nighttime comfort include putting dog cooling mats under the sheets or in pillowcases, although I haven’t tried it yet. With new weapons in my arsenal, hopefully, I’ll be too busy frolicking in the late afternoon glow to be taken down by any pesky MS exacerbations.
Do you struggle with seasonal adjustments and MS? Please share in the comments below.
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