With MS, You're Going to Need Rest, and That's OK!
Last updated: October 2022
When you live with MS, one thing is certain: you’re going to have days where things just aren’t going to happen the way you want, or even at all. As we transition to the warm summer months with many of our friends taking part in fun, often outdoor, activities, our bodies will remind us that we are not the same as everyone else. Warmer weather, crowded situations that overload our senses, and increased fatigue are going to wreak havoc on us; you really can’t escape it, but I’m here to remind you all that that’s OK!
The summertime is tough
The summertime can be one of the toughest times for someone suffering from multiple sclerosis. While the summer is often a time that people look forward to, I tend to cringe at the thought of it. The effects of heat on those with multiple sclerosis has been covered a lot. But I do wish to remind folks that it’s not just high temps, but high humidity that can hurt us and exacerbate even our most dormant symptoms. Even quick temperature changes (like going in and out of air conditioned rooms to non-air conditioned rooms) can knock us out of whack.
Making and breaking plans
Over the next couple of months, chances are high that I’m going to be laid out often (and I don’t mean in the sun to get a tan, that would pretty much be the worst thing for me). I’m going to make many plans to see friends and loved ones, and then end up breaking them a lot of the time. There isn’t much I can do about that. MS is such an unpredictable disease that trying to plan anything in advance can be very troublesome. What may seem like the most minute of triggers, even on the day of an event, can leave me stuck home on the couch or in bed while everyone's out enjoying the fun.
You need time to rest and recharge
Sometimes, even if the weather is awesome, I’m going to need recovery time from something I did previously (maybe even just showering), and it may take more time than I expected. Needing time to rest and recharge is something that I don’t think gets discussed much but is vital. Some time resting in a nice climate-controlled room is a must for me. But again, that is going to take me out of commission while other folks are out and about.
It's okay to be home and resting
With so many people we know out doing fun summertime things like going on vacation, going to the beach, enjoying outdoor festivals, etc, it’s easy to start getting depressed or feeling lonely. The fear of missing out is something I get often and seeing everyone having a blast on social media while I’m stuck at home can be rough. To help fight all this, I like to tell myself that it’s ok. It’s ok to be home and resting. I try to remember that it’s important to focus on myself. But I also try to think of it as preparing more for the next time.
We’re different than others and require more rest. There is no shame in being different. Are we going to miss out on a few things? Sure. But we’ll miss out on them so we can participate at a different time. And that’s ok. I like to think of a quote by General Oliver P. Smith, commander of the 1st Marine Division in the Korean War. During the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, when forced to pull his troops back in order to save them, he said “Retreat, hell! We’re not retreating, we’re just advancing in a different direction!” That is exactly how I try to look at my situation when I have to step out and not join in the fun all around me. Instead of focusing on the sad part of it, I try to look at it as a positive, I’m just getting ready for the next battle, um, I mean fun time. Stay cool, rest up, and don’t beat yourselves up my friends!
Do you ever have moments where you question your self worth because of your MS?