Killer Heat Killing My Vibe
The heat this summer is killer here in North Texas. It’s blazing hot, and the temperatures just keep soaring along with the humidity. It’s probably one of the worst heat waves I’ve experienced here so far. You know it’s hot when you pour water on the concrete, and it’s evaporated within seconds. I feel like with MS, I’m that water drop on the pavement.
Like a drop of water on the hot pavement
I wake up most days overall refreshed. It does take me longer than most to wake up, but when I do, I’m good to go. That is, until I step out into the heat. As soon as I step out into the 100 plus degree weather and out of the comfort of my AC, I feel the life leave my body. It’s like the energy is zapped right out of me. When the water hits the hot concrete, it is soon gone, like it was never there. And, it’s the same with my energy level. As my energy level decreases, I become fatigued, and my body moves slower. I’m no longer that perfectly full water droplet, I’m the water droplet that’s evaporated without any trace that it was ever there.
My energy evaporates
The reason water evaporates in heat is that the sunlight transfers energy to the water in the form of heat. When the water gets hot, enough the oxygen and hydrogen molecules start moving rapidly. Once the energy is high enough, the water molecules break apart. They then change from a liquid to a gas state which causes the evaporation. Again, it’s the same with my body, my body feels like it breaks even more with the extreme heat. It breaks, and my energy evaporates into the hot air. And then when I retreat back into the oasis of air conditioning, I feel the effects. I’m exhausted, my head hurts, and my body is weak. The reason our bodies with MS do this is that heat causes nerves (whose myelin covering has been destroyed) to conduct electrical signals even less efficiently. Our bodies already have trouble conducting normal electrical signals, so with the heat and humidity, they are even worse off. With the temperature as high as it is here, not even the trying to stay in the shade seems to help as much.
Beating this nasty heat
As much as I despise the heat, and although there’s not much I can do about it, I wanted to share my tips for beating this nasty heat once more:
Stay inside if at all possible! For me, right now this is easier said than done, but sticking inside is what keeps me going most days. I live for my AC!
Wear light clothing
Wear something that breathes and gives you just a little bit of relief.
COLD WATER. This is probably the most important for me. My dear friend shared a neat article the other day about a simple strategy for boosting heat intolerance with MS. In the article, it mentioned a study they did with people with MS. They studied 20 participants (10 with MS and 10 without) ingesting water every 15 minutes while cycling in a room that was 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Some drank water that was room temperature while others drank cold water. When the participants with MS drank the cold water, they were able to cycle for about 30% longer. Researchers theorized that the cold water acts on thermoreceptors in the digestive system to mitigate the effects of heat on people with MS. I thought this was very interesting, and just goes to prove how crucial cold water is to our bodies. Cold water cools us off and initially helps us go longer during strenuous activity or in the heat.
Cooling vests/towels and handheld fans. I don’t yet have a cooling vest, but I’m ready to invest in one. They are an incredible asset to have to keep you cool. What I do have though, is a mini handheld fan, and I love it. Mine is one of the little fans that squirts water, so you have cooling 2 different ways. Cooling towels are another great resource to have. I found mine at Academy for relatively cheap. Just dip them in water, wring them out and keep them around your neck to keep you cool!
Hats. This summer I’ve found that hats really help keep me cooler. I think this is because when heat hits our scalps first, the temperature will then radiates to the rest of your body. Did you know your head impacts whole body thermal sensation? I didn’t either. If we keep our heads cool and protected, then our body will believe it's not as hot as it usually is even if our core temperature is high. So, by wearing your hat, you can basically trick your body into thinking it’s cooler too. Wearing hats can improve your comfort level and or perception of heat. Pretty neat!
Those are just a few tips I wanted to reiterate and remind you of. I hope we can all beat this heat without losing our sanity and without putting too much strain on our bodies!
Does your employer provide workplace accommodations due to your MS?