Winter Is Coming
For the first time in many months, there is a slight chill in the air. A crisp autumnal breeze glides through the land as the sure signs of seasonal shift finally begin to take hold. For most of us who live with Multiple Sclerosis, this is one of the most welcome moments of the year, as the often torturous heat and humidity are finally at their end. Temperature has such a huge impact on our lives that this move to cooler weather can feel like we are being awoken from the dead. Our pain lessens some, our brains are a little sharper, walking becomes a tad easier, and our crippling fatigue is slightly lessened. Our hibernation is finally over. The person to person differences of MS, however, mean that this isn’t everyone’s time to shine. The colder weather can bring its own set of problems.
The joy of winter
Fall is my favorite season, but let’s face it, fall isn’t what it used to be. That great time of the year when the weather isn’t too hot but isn’t too cold becomes shorter every year. So while today’s weather seems perfect to me, I know the brutal cold of the winter will be here, and be here soon. I personally like the winter, the cold is great for me. Heat and humidity are my enemies, so I thrive this time of year. There’s a reason why so many cooling products are marketed to MSers, many of us thrive in the cooler temps, and I’m a perfect example of that.
It’s not joyous for everyone
As I’ve said, everyone with MS experiences symptoms and triggers slightly differently. For someone like me, the colder, the better. But there are certainly others who experience the same problems I do in the summer, but with the colder temps. Warm temps make it harder for signals from my brain to get where they’re going because of my damaged nerves. For some people, cold temps provide the same problem. As much as warm temperatures are talked about as a problem for those with MS, there are still many that have difficulty with the cold. So as I figuratively jump for joy about the cooler temps, I have to acknowledge all my fellow MS warriors that are about to begin having more issues. Hang in there, folks!
It’s not all joy for me
While I typically thrive in the cooler weather, I do have some interesting issues. Cooler weather means that many people and places are attempting to keep warm. I run into a huge problem in the colder months with going places, only to realize they have the heat jacked up or a fireplace on, or even both! I may thrive in the cold, but when the temps drop, most of society is trying to warm up. I’ve actually had some rough moments of symptoms rising up in the middle of winter because I’ve gone to places that are blasting their heat.
I try to combat the indoor heat
I try to combat this in a number of ways. If there’s a seat right by the door, I’ll happily take it and bask in the sudden chill when folks enter and exit. If I wear a jacket, it’s usually something light. As for my clothing, in an attempt to look somewhat normal (at least on top, more on that in a second), I have a number of very light and breathable sweaters and shirts (I’ve got some sweaters that feel cooler than most polo shirts I own because of their material). Also, I have not worn pants in over a year and a half at this point (maybe even longer). That’s right, I rock shorts throughout the dead of winter (and yes, I live in the mid-Atlantic US, it’s cold, there is snow) as a way to help me combat the warm indoor temps (so not only am I comfortable, but I’m pretty much a winter fashion icon as well).
Extremes are always problematic
The big problem with winter is the really the same main issue of the summer, extreme temps. Whether your body gets along better with warmth or with cold, the extreme of either will always present problems. These issues will often be unique to us when compared to those around us, making for some awkward moments. No matter what your body’s preference is, the key to enjoying a new season is to be prepared. Check the weather, know where you're going (the layout and do they jack up the heat), layer and wear the right clothing, and make sure your friends and families understand what challenges the weather may thrust upon you.
Thanks for reading!
How often do you use assistive devices to help manage your MS?