Tag Archives: heat

The One Where MS Becomes Normal

memoryI was feeling very smug the other day in work.

We’re currently on an outside project and the sun was blazing.

I could feel myself getting hotter and hotter as the day went on, so I disappeared at carefully-staggered intervals into the shade and called my mum for a random chat or scrolled through Twitter or simply watched the sheep stroll past (It’s Wales, we were up a mountain).

Anyway, as we were wrapping up, I remarked, ‘Oi, boss, see! I’m not as red as I usually am! Result, eh?’

He glanced my way, burst out laughing and told me to look in a mirror. I did. Oh. Bright red, round face. But! I wasn’t lying stunned on the grass, flapping my arms like a hot-weather snow angel, felled by Herr Uhthoff, Master of Heat Intolerance. I was being proactive and mature (for once), taking time out to cool down before I collapsed in a soggy heap.

This made me think. Have a I finally grown up with regards to MS? Or am I just fed up shaking my fist at it, daring it to strike me down? Perhaps I am, and MS has fully integrated itself into my life, like some kind of tapeworm, but without the added advantage of rapid weight loss.

I decided to clock just how much I now regard as normal:

  • Tripping over the bath mat every single day. Also, doorstep, dustballs and the kitten.
  • Having to hold a cup of coffee with two hands and will myself to keep hold of it.
  • Dozing off at the good bit during telly programmes and dropping my bag of chocolate buttons.
  • Mixing up my words and making people laugh, when sometimes, I’m actually telling them something quite sad.
  • Forgetting simple words and using a lot of Italian gestures to make up the shortfall (quite a natty effect, I think).
  • Fumbling with buttons and zips (my own, tsk).

I’m also applying my new-found maturity to my studies. Before, I could sit for hours thinking about different ways to say the same thing in essays. Well. I now have a handy list. For example, if I want to give an example, I could say:

  • as an illustration
  • to demonstrate
  • specifically
  • for instance

Which means my essays are now full of lots of examples, but I need to find lots of examples to use the example phrases. Confused? Me too.

Anyway, it may have taken almost four years, but I think I’m now at the stage, largely through repetition, where what was once odd and disconcerting is now, well, normal life for me. I struggle to forget what life was like B4MS, not helped by my goldfish memory.

Did I tell you what happened in work the other day?

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The Return of The Angry Red Tomato-Face

angry red tomato faceMen in loud-patterned shorts and flip-flops are everywhere, I have a stack of special offer leaflets from supermarkets urging me to stock up on barbecue ingredients and the weather forecasters can barely contain their excitement.

We are having a spell of warm, sunny weather and I am not best pleased. In fact, I am downright grumpy. Two years ago I enjoyed the warm weather as much as anyone, but one day that all changed as my face morphed into an angry red blur, my limbs went weak and I felt faint with fatigue. Since then Uhthoff’s phenomenon, otherwise known as heat intolerance, has made my life a misery.

A tiny spot of sun will add a youthful, flushed glow to my face. Any more than that and I begin to scare small children. I often wish I was born 100 years ago so I could carry a parasol when outdoors and recline on a chaise-lounge, delicately fluttering a fan  and sipping peppermint tea when the heat gets too much. And a bonnet would be ideal for bad hair days.

It’s not just weather that does this – hot radiators in the winter, ‘atmospheric’ log fires in gastropubs and over-heated shops all take their toll. Opening the oven door is a tricky operation. Do it too quickly and I’ve got to lie down for five minutes, pizza sadly forgotten.

I fondly remember giving myself home-made facials by adding lavender to a bowl of boiling water and steaming my face over it. Nowadays that would probably be the best way to make me give up my PIN numbers and passwords.

I am now a semi-vampire, hiding in the house as much as I can and my super-size fan is my new best friend. I have become an expert at judging where any breeze is coming from. I rearrange chairs in cafes when a blast of sun comes through the window.

So this bank holiday weekend, I will mostly be at home. I will not be going to a barbecue – it’s insanity to cook in the heat. I will not be going to the beach. I will not be sitting outside a pub.  I will instead smile through gritted teeth when yet another person says, ‘oooh, lovely weather we’re having!’ Isn’t it just…

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Beat The Heat…

ID-10019970My guest blogger today is Katie Brind’Amour. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist and freelance health and wellness writer based in America, and loves learning about natural ways to live well. She enjoys writing for Healthline.com and WomensHealthcareTopics.com:

Perhaps it’s wishful Spring thinking, or perhaps it’s the knowledge that year after year it does eventually get warmer, that makes me turn to thoughts of sun and heat. When fighting MS, however, warm weather is not all good news.

Most people with MS have something in common: myelin sheath that has taken a permanent vacation. This means your nerves are extra sensitive to temperature changes, and flare-ups can happen.

Dealing with MS When It’s HOT (or if you’re in the UK….’a tad warm’)

  1. Make the air conditioner your best friend. Hang out together all the time—whether it’s at your house or the local grocery store, mall, or movie theater. Becoming best mates means lots of quality time in a cool, comfortable climate (and less quality time feeling the burn!).
  2. Invest in ice packs. These frozen heroes can be frozen overnight and taken with you for a day trip, picnic, or even a hot car ride (if your car can’t handle your air conditioner best friend). They are super cheap and stay cold for many hours—wrap them in a towel for long-lasting cold presses. Otherwise, be old-fashioned and just run a washcloth under water to use to cool your skin during walks or outdoor time.
  3. Be cool: use water. This means drink it (cold!), swim in it, and bathe in it wisely. Add ice to beverages to keep your core a bit cooler, enjoy a cool pool for exercise, and take a cool bath. Hot water only tends to aggravate MS symptoms. Although you can sub out other cold liquids for the drinking bit, substituting other liquids for swimming and bathing may not be quite as feasible…
  4. Protect that body! Be smart about your exposure to sun and heat. This goes for clothing (dress lightly and protect your skin from sunburn) as well as for finding shade. Short of investing in one of those giant retractable awnings they show on TV, you might try finding a shady park for morning walks or wearing a super fashionable baseball cap.

Just remember: to beat the heat troubles of MS, it doesn’t take pure genius, just common sense. Enjoy the coming warm breezes with a totally chillaxed mind (and body—MS or no!).

p.s. the totally gratuitous image of a lovely young man cooling down was taken by Graur Razvan Ionut and is available free (the image, not the man) at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=10019970

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Firewalking. Seriously?

imagesCAARAXK5I had an email yesterday, an update about ways to get involved in raising money for charity. Fundraising is admirable, worthy, makes you feel good inside and funding multiple sclerosis societies and their research is vital.

So when they knocked around a few ideas of how to raise this money, WHO came up with the idea of firewalking?

If one of the most common and distressing symptoms of MS is heat intolerance, it seems a bit of a strange and slightly cruel choice. How about upping the ante and have people fire-eating and firewalking simultaneously?

A lot of regional societies organise these events and apparently you walk 20 feet across burning embers, with the coals reaching 1200 degrees fahrenheit ( a crematorium burns at around 1400 degrees). In the information section, the guidelines state you must be able to lift your feet and take a minimum of 8 steps at fast pace. Hmm. Beginning to sound like a Disability Living Allowance assessment – at least we’re on familiar territory. In addition, ‘you may use walking sticks or mobility aids but please be aware that these may suffer fire damage’. Hey, that sounds great fun, where do I sign up?

Instead, how about choosing something us MS’ers are good at? A sofa-thon? Who can stay on their sofa the longest (me, me!). Or MS Snap? Give people some cards, get them to write down all their symptoms, shuffle them around and play a couple of games. For the uninitiated, MS has a vast amount of symptoms, so these games could run and run. Sometimes the old ways are the best though, so if you see a sad figure forlornly rattling a collection tin, pop some money in. It could be me,..

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Singing in the rain

I spend a lot of time lying down. Fatigue in multiple sclerosis is no joke, although my friends think it’s a pretty cushy side effect. I have bought a new sofa, hung the flatscreen on the wall so I can see it better and worked out how to put the phone on silent. So I like the rain. A lot.

Why? Two reasons. First, I can’t stand any heat at all now and will very quickly look like a hot, red, angry tomato if I am out in the sun for any length of time. Second, and most important, the rain keeps people indoors, lying down, watching telly. Just like me. Now I don’t feel quite so guilty that I am not outdoors, doing lovely sporty things or sunbathing or walking…in the sun.

So, my sofa is ready. The cushions are soft, the throws casually draped over the arms. Pile of magazines to one side, stack of books on the other. Bar of chocolate hidden from The Teenager under a bank statement. Let it rain…

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