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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How are you dealing with the winter weather?

I don't know about you, but my favorite season is winter and I am absolutely loving this snowy winter. I didn't always like the cold and the snow. In my youth I was a serious sun worshipper. My first job was as a life guard at a local private swimming pool. I enjoyed this gig for nearly 10 years and I had a strict rule. On the first day of pool season I felt it was my duty to get as much  sun as possible. For some reason I thought that if I aquired a harsh sun burn on the first day, I wouldn't burn again for the rest of ther summer. This is not good advice. The skiin will continue to burn all summer long and the damage acrued is permenant. There is no turning back once the human skin is fried in baby oil and iodine (yep, that's how serious I was about my tan). But, this space is about MS, not skin cancer. I have yet to look forward to that condition.
 
While I basked in my summer glow and dreamed of living at the beach when I was an independent young adult, I never once imagined that summer would be on my worst enemy list. In fact, that thought didn't even become imaginable until June 1, 2001. On that scorching (is that a word?) hot day, I tucked my six month old son into his carriage, packed a little soft side cooler with water bottles, carrots, and Cheerios at the foot of the stroller, adorned us both with sunblock and eye protection.
 
It was the first week of summer vacation for this teacher as well as a much anticipated summer to spend with my newborn. I was psyched that we lived so close to the public library (about 3/4 of a mile) and that a visit to one of my favorite places would serve two-fold in giving us exercise and providing a reason to stock up on the newest titles of the summer.
 
Traffic was light but ai knew that would pick up as the lunch hour approached. We would be on our way home by then and if my babe was awake we could even stop our journey to enjoy a lemonade at my favorite cafe on the way home.
 
It was a good day. It was summer, my favorite season; I was with my beautiful child.  There wasn't a clould in the sky. What could be better?
 
 Two block from my house on the return trip, it happened. The entire ride side of my body went numb.  I couldn't feel my right arm; my right leg began dragging behind me; the right side of my face was slack. I still had a major highway to cross and two blocks of uneven sidewalk on which to maneuver the baby stroller. And then I had to extract my baby from his carriage and lift him up several steps to enter our house. I still cannot believe that these were my exact thoughts as I stood out in the glaring sun and attacked by some mysterious, inexplicable demon.

It's funny how the human brain operates.

That's the day I stopped loving summer. That's the day I rallied for a home aire conditioner rather than the room fan that had served me well for many, many years. That's the day I faced a monster called MS that moved in and took up permenant residence.

Now, you've heard the adage "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all." Well, digging deep, I guess I owe MS for my new favorite season. I love winter. My MS feels great when low temps keep it at arm's length. Sure, I still suffer from foot drop and partial numbness of body extremities; but over all the cold is my BFF.

When researching MS and weather, I found out that seasonal weather changes can contribute to making MS symptoms worse or even aggravate exacerbations or relapse. Of course, if you are on speaking terms with your Ms, you already know that. Warm weather fires up my MS related fatigue. I avoid contagious situations with much more entergy than ever and I ALWAYS get my flu shot. That didn't used to be such a priority, but I have learned that infection and sickness love to mock my MS.


 
 
For those of us with Multiple Sclerosis, season changes are very stressful and weakens the immune system to start with.  An extra dose of Vitamin D, VitaminC, and zinc have been recommended to me in the preventino of cooomon cold symptoms and the flu. I also take multiple daily "rest" sessions. It is amazing what a 5-10 minute meditation can do for not only the mind, but the body as well.

Staying hydrated in all weather types is imperative. Excessive amounts of sugar seems to make me sluggish, so I try not have sweets on hand in my home. I make sure to give myself at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise a day and I always feels better after 20-30 minutes of Yoga. It's just convincing myself to do it that is the challenge:)

So, if this winter weather is getting you down, jusdt remember: It could be 90 degrees and humid (and will be soon enough), so enjoy the MS Cool Down, compliments of Mother Nature.
 
 
 










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