Is It My MS or Time?
Earlier today I was out on my morning walk when it started to sprinkle a bit. The weather app on my phone said it wasn’t supposed to start raining till about noon, so I figured it was just a random patch of mist that was coming in ahead of the actual rain that was still on its way. Nothing to worry about. I kept walking.
Here comes the cold weather
My typical morning walk ends at the top of a hill overlooking the city. At this point, I usually lay my cane down on the ground, stretch my legs for a minute, and take a moment to admire the view. But today I was quickly reminded that the weather app on my phone can’t actually tell the weather’s future with any degree of complete certainty. The view from atop the hill this morning was currently dark and cloudy. In a matter of minutes, the temperature had seemingly dropped. A cold breeze had come out of nowhere, and so did the actual rain I had assumed was still on its way.
Cold weather and my MS symptoms
I started walking back home as water poured down the bill of my hat and I became abundantly aware of how much this slightly colder weather was already affecting my multiple sclerosis (MS). Specifically, the spasticity in my legs. I’m not saying that under ordinary circumstances I walk with any kind of graceful flowing motion, but now? The cold quickly transformed my body into a stiff mechanical contraption that’s sorely in need of some oil. A janky set of joints and rigid limbs that can barely pass for a body that knows how to walk like a human being. At least that’s how it feels.
The cold used to be my friend
Anyway, I recently talked about how I was beginning to notice that the cold was starting to affect my body differently than it used to. When I was first diagnosed with MS in 2010, I loved the cold. The heat of summer always did me in, but the cold of winter felt so relieving to my MS symptoms. In fact, I would often dump a bag of ice into a cold bath and just sit in it till it all melted. I definitely couldn’t do that today without my muscles locking up on me.
Struggling with extremes
Don’t get me wrong, the heat is still infinitely more terrible to my MS. I honestly don’t think I have a large enough vocabulary to accurately voice how much I hate, and dread, summer. Winter is still, by far, my definite preference, but I’m not so sure if I love it the way I used to. Maybe I just need warmer pants, thicker socks, and a seasonal dose of Baclofen, but at this point in my MS journey? Winter is starting to feel like it’s merely the best of a bunch of bad circumstances. Or, to put it in Goldilocks terms, it’s always too hot or too cold, but it’s never just right.
Is it MS or aging?
That was all part of the first set of thoughts to run through my mind as I walked back home from atop the hill in the cold rain. I then transitioned to thinking about something else that has poked around my mind more than a few times recently. I’m currently 31 years old, and I was diagnosed with MS in 2010. I’ve always known that MS affects people differently depending on (among many, many other possible factors) their age and how long they’ve had MS.
Is how the cold has been more negatively affecting my MS symptoms just the first obvious sign of my MS changing with age? Is it a reflection of how much long-term damage has accumulated in my CNS (central nervous system) after over a decade? Or is it just another random change in the many, sometimes persistent, changes in life that come with MS?
Well, I guess they warned me
In my 20s, people always told me that turning 30 is when your body starts to fall apart and everything starts to go downhill. I would always just laugh and assume it was one of those jokes people have always told to anyone younger than them, but if I’m being honest, I do find myself thinking about this a lot lately. Do my knees hurt so bad on a daily basis because I’ve spent the better part of a decade walking with a terrible gait due to my MS? Or was this just an inevitable part of my transition into the third decade of my life that would have happened regardless of MS?
I’ll never know for sure
It's a little frustrating...I can wonder, but I’ll never actually know what my reality would be like today had MS never barged into my life. What I do know is that even in otherwise healthy individuals, our bodies break down over time, so adding a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system into the mix probably doesn’t help that process.
Thanks for reading! What was it that made you think for the first time that maybe time was starting to affect your MS? How old were you? Let me know in the comments below!
On an average day, how would you rate your level of anxiety related to multiple sclerosis?