Take me away…..

Those of us of a certain age will certainly remember the advertising campaign for a bubble bath product that would plead ‘Calgon, take me away’. The obviously distressed woman stands in front of a spinning background reminiscent of a scene from Vertigo and laments about the traffic, her boss, the baby and the dog. A soothing male voice from off screens says ‘lose your cares in the luxury of a Calgon bath,’ as we see her soaking in a bubble bath, calmly saying ‘I love it.’

If only it were that simple. But of course a long soak in a hot bubble bath, as relaxing as it may sound, is no stress reliever for the majority of us with multiple sclerosis. The heat from the tub would set off the Uthoff’s phenomenon, you know that fun side effect of MS that we get the slightest bit overheated our central nervous system goes haywire. For me it is a loss of function in my right leg while other people have problems with the optic nerve and their vision deteriorates when their body temperature spikes. Fortunately, for most of us, Uthoff’s is a temporary symptom and improves as the body temperature cools, but consequently, the long soaks in a tub are out, leaving me to wonder what else might be equally effective at taking me away from the stress of the boss and the dog. Fortunately I live in a town that doesn’t have traffic problems to fret over and I am well past the age of babies in my house. Honestly, my boss is wonderful and the dogs are all grandpups that come to visit but then go home. So I should have nothing to stress about, right?

Unfortunately, those are replaced by the stress of having MS and the extra effort everything takes to function with it as an added challenge. Being constantly vigilant about MS in the news and at home takes a toll and it feels good to be able to get away, even if only in my mind.

The MS Society in the UK has a community blog site and a woman by the name of Helen Fowler, recently wrote a lovely entry that I would encourage you to read. She wrote “I don’t feel scared or cross about having MS when I am in my garden. It’s as if we have called a truce. “For Ms. Fowler, the act of gardening is her Calgon moment – the activity that melts away the stress and allows her to truly be immersed in a normal activity.


This has me thinking about what I do to get away – to let my mind slip past the consciousness of MS and into an altered state. I love to read, but haven’t done so in the way of devouring a book from cover to cover without a break in quite some time. My eyes fatigue and I am usually asleep by the time I get through the first chapter.

Gardening was once also my joy but now plucking at the weeds doesn’t give me near the pleasure as it once did; the rose bushes are overgrown and nothing much new has been planted this year to add color and cheer to the beds besides a few lone red geraniums. I’m sure I would stop thinking about my MS while out working in my beds but it wouldn’t be stress free because I would be busy kicking myself for letting them get out of shape and overrun by weeds.

I learned to knit just a few years back, but now I haven’t touched my needles or yarn in over a year. That was a great escape until my hands developed a dermatitis from working with the natural fibers and I haven’t picked it up again. The materials sit in a chest waiting for my attention or the moths to come and pick at the threads – I’ m not sure which will come first.

So I’m left searching for those other ways to slip away. I’m overdue for a good massage by my therapist, so perhaps I’ll make a call and schedule an appointment. That’s always good for an hour or so of bliss; I just wish it was as affordable as a box of bubble bath and something I could do more often. We all need these breaks – the  times we stop thinking about or letting MS steer our life, even if they are only temporary. How do you escape and what is it that takes you away, if only for the moment? I would love to hear your Calgon escapes.

Wishing you well,

Laura

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