As summer comes to a close,
so does my mental versus physical battle. Summer has always been my favorite time of the year, enjoying laying by the pool soaking up the sun. However, since my MS diagnosis, this leisurely activity has become a crippling activity for me. Last summer I spent my time relaxing in the sun having no idea that it was actually making me feel worse.
As I headed into this summer I knew that the heat was going to be troubling but I kept telling myself it would be ok because I wasn’t in the middle of a flare up. I started my summer off with a trip to San Antonio which proved that this mindset was completely wrong. I spent most of my trip tired and napping (I’m sure the margaritas didn’t help either)
MS and Heat
According to multiple medical sources, heat is thought to increase MS symptoms because the temperature affects the demyelinated nerves to conduct electrical impulses. It is not proven to cause any additional damage or attacks. The symptoms I personally experience increasing is fatigue and muscle weakness.
These two side effects have a major impact on my ability to train at the capacity and level I would like. Not only have I been extremely tired, every time I train I struggle through due to strength issues. Which leads to me getting frustrated, and takes away all the stress relief exercise provides me. There is a delicate balance between pushing yourself in a healthy way and pushing too far. I like to push far, and then I start to feel like I’m going to collapse beneath my own arms and legs.
I solicited some feedback from my fellow MS warriors about how the summer heat impacts them as well as their workouts and here is what they had to say.
“I now stay out of the heat as much as possible. After having MS for nearly 40 years, I’ve had lots of experience with it. Although they say that the effects of heat are temporary I have had relapses that I believe were related to being overheated, and I learned that heat was bad for me from my first neurologist. I have AC, and if I do get too hot, I drink ice water to cool down fast.”
“Heat, and more specifically humidity, definitely affects my ability to be active. It makes it harder for me to breathe, I often feel like my chest is being crushed when it gets too hot and humid. If it’s that way for more than a day or two, I start to get really fatigued and struggle to even do the basics of life. I think this is especially bad since with MS our vitamin D tends to be low, but it can get difficult to be outside and get exposure to the sun when it starts getting too hot. So it’s a double whammy 😫”
“Yes it does but I don’t let it. Pushing thru the pain, fatigue, and lethargy has increased my tolerance. The more I exercise, the more tolerable the symptoms are. For example 18 months ago, I could only do 10 mins of my boot camp before I got drunk & disoriented. Now, I am usually good for 45 mins. I have even started running a bit. The fear of falling is always there though.”
“I get so worn out, my whole body feels heavy and I’m always tired”
It is hard for all of us as we all have our own experiences with the disease. However, the MS community is one of the strongest group of individuals I have met and helped me keep fighting and pushing hard every day. There is the struggle between what makes you happy and what makes you feel worse. For me, it truly has been a year of figuring out how to navigate life in different ways. Some things still work, while many things need a revamp. I will be sad to see the pool closed, but I can’t wait to get back to my normal workout routines and be able to focus clearly again.