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Exiled: Life With MS During The Summer

That time of year is upon us again, when the temps begin to warm up and the sun begins to shine. A time that most people look forward to, when vacations, trips to the beach, times laying by the pool, and attending outdoor events become commonplace.

Exile and isolation

While most people take advantage of the warm weather every chance they get, it’s also the time of the year when many of us who have multiple sclerosis begin to feel a bit more isolated. As more and more people opt to enjoy the warmer weather, we become exiled because of our intolerance to heat. The summer can be an extremely challenging time for those with MS. While it’s true the physical challenges and increase in symptoms come along with this time of the year, so do extreme feelings of isolation.

Summer sucks

With everything MS-related, warm temps aren’t a problem for everyone with MS. They weren’t even a serious issue for me until many years after my diagnosis. Now, it makes every symptom I’ve ever had come to the forefront. Which makes sense, the heat is making the electrical signals that travel along my damaged nerves move at a different speed then they normally would. I try to fight this by keeping cool, spending as much time as I can in air conditioning and using cooling products like vests and a migraine hat. All of the cooling products out there still can’t help me though, if my friends want to do something outdoors for an extended period of time, like go to the beach or an outdoor concert. That’s when my problem with summer begins to focus less on my physical issues and more on my mental and emotional well being.

A depressing time

I’ve talked at length about my MS and depression, it’s an extremely common and consistent issue for many people who suffer from the disease. For me, it becomes even worse during the warmer months. Being forced inside while everyone is outside can have a pretty profound effect on your mood and state of mind. I have no ill will towards anyone that loves taking advantage of the warmer weather, I even encourage them, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel like I’m missing out though. Social media makes it all much worse, and I sit in my air-conditioned cell…I mean house and see all the fun that everyone else appears to be having. Talk about feeling super lonely, even my dog will go spend some time on the porch sunning himself!

Keep up the good fight

It’s important to recognize how this time of year can make you feel. Remember, stress is bad for MS, and if you allow this time of year to get to you, what seems like mental anguish will translate to physical symptoms pretty quickly. I try to get through the warmer months by taking advantage of the times that I can. If there is a day when the weather cooperates with my body, I try to make the most it. I also try to stay off social media a bit more in the summer, which is difficult, especially if you are trapped inside and everyone else is having fun. I set up goals for this time of year, goals that I can accomplish while cool and alone like reading a certain book, checking out a series on Netflix, or building a LEGO set.

You are not alone

It’s important to remember that you will get through it. This time of year is always a good time to connect with others who have MS or a similar chronic illness. There is, after all, a whole community of people in the same boat as you, stuck inside due to the weather, but also easily accessible via the internet. The most important thing to remember is that the weather will eventually change, you will get through this, you aren’t really missing out on anything, and you are most certainly not alone.

Thanks so much for reading and always feel free to share!

Devin

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Comments

  • Legsonstrike
    4 months ago

    You did it again Devin!! I’ve been in a bad mood all week because I cannot tolerate this heat!! I want to move to Iceland!!

  • Legsonstrike
    4 months ago

    Hi Devin!! Just wanted to say good morning to you and I hope your day is as wonderful as your writing is!! You rock!!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thank you @Legsonstrike, hang in there, it’s a rough time for many of us!

  • Dana Vanest-Stahl
    4 months ago

    Hi Devin! Great article! Glad to see you’re still pumping out great info about living with MS.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thanks so much Dana (@Dana Vanest-Stahl)

  • SharonW27
    5 months ago

    Devin, I read this article last week. A long-time friend and mother of a woman with MS posted it on FB. And here I am, a new member of this community.

    I was diagnosed with MS 16 years ago. The last few years, summer heat and humidity bothers me more than it used to. I love the outdoors, so if I have the energy, I go out early in the morning or in cooler places.

    Yesterday, Saturday, I woke up early (lord knows why), and when sun was coming up I got this idea: why not go swimming in the lake before it gets hot out. And I did! I also planned to listen to a local guitarist/singer that evening in the patio of a local cider place, but I didn’t. It made me sad not to go because it was too hot out, but I tried to focus on what a glorious swim I had earlier in the day. There will be other times to listen to live music outside, probably in the fall.

    Thank you for writing this article. Many good reminders and lots of encouragement that I don’t like admitting I needed.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thank you @SharonW27, love your attitude, it’s important to focus on the successes we have, like your swim, there are always other times for everything else!

  • Lauraed613
    5 months ago

    I try to do evening activities. I attend evening cook outs and campfires. My friends have also started scheduling parties more towards the evening so I can attend. I always ask if there is plenty of shade and take my own chair for outdoor activities. I decided I was not going to sit in the house this summer and talked to my friends and family and they have been very accommodating. I have a wonderful support system. I consider myself very blessed.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    5 months ago

    Thank you! Glad to hear it @Lauraed613 !

  • ekitt429
    5 months ago

    I’m good with the heat, but humidity completely drains every bit of everything I have!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    5 months ago

    Thanks @ekitt429, humidity is definitely the worst for me as well. When it’s simply hot, I can usually manage to get cool, it can be temporary. Humidity is just oppressive though and hard to beat.

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