Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Heat and MS

Ah, summer – bbqs, sun and lemonade (or a cold beer) with friends and family. Sounds so Norman Rockwell – a picture perfect day with no worries. But, having MS can askew your view of things. The heat (from personal experience) can throw a large monkey wrench into things. You might thing that the wrench cannot be removed, but with a little planning, one can enjoy summer to a certain degree.

I could put in big bold letters – keep cool – but that is a natural given (not for just people with MS but for anyone). How does one keep cool? Fans and air conditioning while indoors. You can also make a cooling unit with only three things: 1) a fan; 2) 5lbs. of ice; and 3) a tub to hold the ice. To start up your system: a) make sure it will be in a location that will not be damaged by condensation and put your tub (you can place the tub on towels to help); b) place the fan behind the tub; c) open the ice bag and pour into tub; and d) turn on the fan to keep cool. The fan blows the cool air your way to help cool you down.

Even if you are out and about, you can still keep cool: 1) try to accomplish your errands in the early morning before the heat sets in or after sunset; 2) Drink cool water and keep hydrated; 3) Shade – find some. Even with a slight breeze it can help; and 4) purchase cooling packs. The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (http://www.msfocus.org/) offers a chance one a year to get a free pack – either a) a vest with blue ice inserts or 2) hat, scarf and wrist bands. The hat and scarf are soaked in cool water until the water beads are swelled. As the moisture evaporates, it helps keep you cool. The wrist bands hold blue ice packs over your main vein on wrist – blood is cooled and sent back into your system.

I am sure there are other ways to cool down such as a cool bath or shower, even lounging in a pool (though you have to be careful of sunburn) can also help.

For me – I have three fans and an air conditioner at home and accomplish most, if not all, of my errands in cool morning hours before fatigue sets in (I can last for a maximum of two hours [and it is not just because of the heat, I had other problems with my MS]). If I am out, I find shade and hope for a breeze. I also have a cooling set (hat, scarf and wrist bands), but only use them on extremely hot/bad days. (Important note – do not freeze as they will get a slimy coat and no longer work as well, but keeping in the refrigerator is fine [makes is a lot colder]. If I get too bad, I will lay down in a dark room with fans and take a quick nap. (Naps are another topic completely)

No matter how you keep cool, a person who has MS can enjoy summer while waiting for cooler weather to come back.

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