A woman with a cold drink in her hand and a plate of watermelon on a table next to her, smiles as she looks out the window at a sunny scene of a playhouse in her backyard and a dog running to catch a ball.

You Are (NOT) My Sunshine

The other night as we were eating dinner, I was listening to my mom explain to my three-year-old the benefits of sunshine. She was explaining to him how the sun helps us stay happy, and how it gives us special vitamins we need. All I could think of was how I love the sunshine, and all of its benefits... but my body with MS certainly does not. Oh, how I wish things were different.

Benefits of sunlight

Natural sunlight triggers our body’s production of Vitamin D, which is a crucial ingredient to our overall health. Vitamin D helps protect against inflammation, lower high blood pressure, helps our muscles, improves brain function, and so much more. Low levels of Vitamin D can cause heart disease and even dementia. Our bodies are meant to be in the sun, and exposure to sunlight during the day is beneficial to our well-being. Yet a lot of us with MS tend to have a Vitamin D deficiency and be negatively impacted by the heat that the sun yields.

Vitamin D and MS

It is very ironic to me, that something we need so much of, can make us feel so bad. According to Mayoclinic.org, research over the years has shown that maintaining adequate levels of Vitamin D may have a protective effect and lower the risk of developing MS. Some studies even suggest that for those that already have MS, Vitamin D can offer some benefits. These include lessening the frequency and severity of symptoms, improving quality of life, and allowing more time before progression from Relapse-Remitting to the Secondary-Progressive phase. However, the evidence isn’t conclusive. More research needs to be done to support these studies.

Heat is forever my body's enemy

I hate that the sun is so hard on me because I love summertime. My son is so outdoors oriented, and all I want to do is be able to be outside with him enjoying the activities every little kid likes to do in the summer. The heat restricts me though, and I find myself more indoors than out. There are not enough cooling packs, water bottles, popsicles, and wading pools to cool this girl down. Sure, those things offer relief, but I still find myself paying the heat later. I then have to retreat indoors to the cool AC for days to recover from a few hours in the hot summer sun. Each summer, in my wild imagination I think that it might be different, but I soon realize that this is just life for me. I hate it, but there’s nothing I can do to change it. The heat will forever be my body’s enemy even though I long for it to be my friend. Although sunshine tends to bring a smile to my face, most days I choose to enjoy it from the comfort of my couch with the AC blasting. And, I might even eat some watermelon, and enjoy a cold beverage while I’m at it, to make having to stay indoors feel better. So when I think of the song, “You Are My Sunshine”, instead of the sunshine making me happy, gray skies don’t seem so bad.

XOXO,

Calie

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