MS or Not, It’s Too Darn Hot!

It is not much of a wild guess that almost everyone reading this would agree – it is too darn hot!  Short of staying cooped up indoors in air conditioning or sitting in an ice bath, there have been few ways to cool off in the eastern half of our country.  Our waistlines can only take so much ice cream as an instant remedy to the heat.

It was my good fortune that we had planned a vacation to the Pacific Northwest in early July, about the time the heat wave settled in and stayed quite a while in the Eastern United States.  Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, were both significantly cooler than the weather I left in Ohio, so much so by at least 30 degrees.  What a difference that distance traveled made.

The Pacific Ocean

While my traveling partner, my husband, shivered and complained about having this chilly location for vacation, I enjoyed every glorious moment in the cool air.  I felt great and I was able to do many outdoor activities that would not have been possible if I had been home in the 90+ degree temperatures. We dined outdoors more than once, sitting in the cool low 70’s heat.  I even dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean in Northern California – my companions laughed as I commented that my usually numb legs weren’t feeling the cold.

People with MS often have that problem called Uhthoff’s sign, a sensitivity to heat that creates havoc in our bodies when the nerve signal is corrupted by any slight increase in our core temperature. This can cause a temporary worsening of our symptoms, including our ability to walk and our vision. I am no exception - so a summer trip to the warm beaches of Florida are definitely not my first choice.

It wasn’t so long ago that doctors used a hot water bath to test people - if the hot water bothered the person there was a good possibility they would be diagnosed with MS.   Now, with these dog days of summer, a diagnosis of  MS might be made just by having us attempt to walk around the block.  I would make it about half-way and have to crawl the rest of the way home if subjected to the heat and exertion of these mid-summer days.

Now that I’m back home I resort to cooling cloths, ice packs and  pretending I am a vampire and only emerging outdoors after dark when the sun has set, in my attempts to stay cool and functional.  Hydration to stay refreshed is a double-edged sword - while I need the fluids to stay refreshed, that also expends energy with all the extra trips to the restroom. There are assorted tricks we all use to cool off in these hot times but that tiptoe through the surf of the Pacific Ocean was the most effective instant cooling I’ve ever experienced.

What tips can you share for ways to beat the heat? Of course there are plenty of ways we can try to stay cool these days, but for me the best one I’ve found would be to dip those toes once more in the Pacific Ocean.  The brrrrr! factor felt great.

Wishing you well,


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