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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

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Yoshitail9
    4 months ago

    Hey Calie
    You are so right. In my “early” days of MS I used to be able to dot in the sun at the beach for hours. I have that Mediterrsneon Itailian complexion so that when I came back to work from vacation people thought they hire a new minority employee
    All that changed later in the course of my adventure with MS. Those days are gone. Miss them so much and really feel bad for my wife as she too enjoyed the sun but now spends it in the back yard instead of at the seashore although I do encourage her to take a few days in the sun without me.

  • Calie Wyatt moderator author
    4 months ago

    @yoshitail9 I’m with you, those days are certainly missed! Thank you for commenting and sharing your experience!

    Best wishes, Calie

  • rnhviolin
    4 months ago

    Calie you are so right, sunshine is essential for people who have MS, yet it is the enemy of many of us, overheating is a terrible MS problem.
    I totally related to your post, and appreciate your writing it, it gives confirmation to many of us who suffer from the sun/heat.

  • Calie Wyatt moderator author
    4 months ago

    @rnhviolin thank you so much for your kind words! I appreciate you reading and commenting!

    Best wishes, Calie

  • michclaud
    4 months ago

    Summer makes me a prisoner in my house! We are going through a heat wave right now in CT, with temperatures going from 80’s to 100 degrees

  • Calie Wyatt moderator author
    4 months ago

    @michclaud I can relate! Where I’m located in Texas, I am also often stuck indoors due to the heat and humidity. Hope your heatwave passes soon!

    Best wishes, Calie

  • Nancy W
    4 months ago

    For me, the heat seems to affect me worse this year than ever. I’m ok in the shade, if I don’t have to move but if I have to walk in the sun to get to the shade, forget it. Her in NJ, we are about to get a heatwave so I will be stuck indoirs.

  • Calie Wyatt moderator author
    4 months ago

    @nancyw421 this year seems to be worse in many places! I’m the same way, I do fairly well in the shade when it’s not too stifling hot. I hope the heatwave passes for you soon!

    Best wishes, Calie

  • Ana Miguel
    4 months ago

    Hi, Calie! *
    I also have a strange relation with the sun! *

    At the age of 4-months-old, my pediatrician confirmed my Mom I had eczema. This condition got really bad, before it turned more tolerable when puberty came… During most part of my life, I had to run from direct sunlight, because my sensitive and dry skin automatically gets so burned I have to go the ER to take the usual shots. Adding to the pain it causes me, the looks of my skin makes me feel super self-conscious. It has been a struggle for me since I can remember.
    Last year, when my neurologist confirmed me I have MS and I asked what could have caused it, she explained that a Vitamin D deficiency could be an hypotesis, especially with my skin condition – life sure is funny……… 🙂

    Xo from Portugal,
    Ana.

  • Calie Wyatt moderator author
    4 months ago

    @ana-miguel Hi Ana! I’m so sorry to hear about the pain you’ve gone through due to your eczema! I’m so glad you shared your experience with us, very interesting!! Hope you’re having a good summer. ❤️

    Best wishes, Calie

  • Supremo
    4 months ago

    Hey Calie. This article is utter nonsense. Note that Mayo Clinic sponsors “alternative” medicines!

    MS is not at all linked to Sunshine.

    Earlier, it was assumed that Vitamin D from Sun was essential for MS patients. At those times, patients were away from the equator.

    But now, MS patients are from countries with heavy Sunshine too!

    So please, put an end to spreading fake news.

  • rnhviolin
    4 months ago

    Supremo, get a life, be kind, especially when you are wrong.

  • Shelby Comito moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi all, thanks for lively discussion! Just a reminder that it’s okay to disagree with one another, but posts must be respectful. This is a safe space to share our thoughts and experiences, without fear of personal attacks from others. (You can reference our community rules here: https://multiplesclerosis.net/about-us/community-rules/) Please remember to be kind – we’re all in this together!
    – Shelby, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • slaughteringMS
    4 months ago

    I’m right there with you. Along with needing to be barricaded indoors comes the inevitable questions and need to try to explain over and over again WHY I must decline invitations or keep saying things like, “the 10-day forecast calls for 85 degrees, so I can’t.” I feel like all I do is complain incessantly about the heat and feeling only half-alive during the summer. I hate how heat tears me down but there’s not a lot I can do about it. I’m presently awaiting the verdict from my insurance company on whether they’ll chip in for a cooling vest with a pump that circulates cold water. Those cooling packs will buy me 20-30 minutes max. So… let’s all just try to stay cool, stay happy, find things to do inside, and get excited for the start of autumn. Take care all!

  • Calie Wyatt moderator author
    4 months ago

    @slaughteringms thank you for sharing your experience! I hope you are able to be approved for the cooling vest, that would be wonderful! Keep us updated!

    Best wishes, Calie

  • Lupe
    4 months ago

    Spot on. I hate it because I’ve always been an outdoor person, walking the beach from one end to the other, gardening, just sitting in my backyard reading a book and now, like you said, I enjoy the sun from an air conditioned room. It’s just something that I have to get used to I guess, but not an easy task.

  • Calie Wyatt moderator author
    4 months ago

    @lupe it’s not easy at all. Such a hard thing to get used to when you love the sunshine! Thank you for your comment!

    Best wishes, Calie

  • Yoshitail9
    4 months ago

    Ditto

  • cdw56
    4 months ago

    It’s strange the one thing, vitamin D that is to help MS and comes from the sun, actually makes us so sick when were in it. Like the thing to help us works against us, just like the disease.

  • Calie Wyatt moderator author
    4 months ago

    @cdw56 I absolutely agree! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    Best wishes, Calie

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