It’s about two degrees shy of hell right now in Washington, D.C. Last year at this time, I swore I would be living in San Diego for the summer. That has not happened. That needs to happen. The other day, DC was the hottest city in the entire country!! Look!!
A hallmark symptom of multiple sclerosis is heat intolerance. I compare heat to kryptonite. I literally feel my strength draining away when it’s hot. Or humid. Or even worse, hot and humid (which is exactly what DC summers are all about.) Today, it is hard to walk to the corner. I’m having a little vertigo-induced nausea because apparently I live in a sauna. Again, I am rethinking my life choices…
Why am I in DC?
I stayed in D.C. because I got married.
Why did I get married?!
Oh yeah, that. (He’s kind of adorable… and he cooks.)
Eight years ago, I was going to move to Seattle. Actually, that might not be the best choice because the Pacific Northwest has one of the highest incidences of multiple sclerosis in the world. (Then again, I already have it, so environmental risks be damned?)
I read once that the way they used to test you for MS was they would place you in a hot bath. If your symptoms got worse, they diagnosed you with MS. That actually seems a much kinder diagnostic tool than a spinal tap, though arguably less accurate. Your best bet is to have an MRI, since the only painful part of that is getting an injection of contrast dye. Unless you’re claustrophobic, of course.
Why is heat so bad for MS? In MS, there is inflammation around the brain or spinal cord, and that inflammation heats up (bad pun) as the body temperature rises, equaling a temporary worsening of symptoms. It happens if you have a fever, too. During the year that everyone got the flu (2012-13), I caught it from my young nephew (the 3-year-old bioterrorist). I could barely walk. Kind of like now, except that my rise in temperature is from my current distance from the sun (I’m thinking it’s 30, 40 miles at the most).
The good news is that when you cool back down, the MS symptoms subside. No lasting damage was done. It’s like you put on a lead apron or whatever-the-hell-Superman-did-to-overcome-kryptonite. Lead, right?
Actually, there are several cooling devices specifically designed (or at least, marketed) for MS patients. I find them cumbersome if you actually want to work out, so for now, staying indoors will have to do.
For teachers who are reading this – if you’re thinking of cranking the AC to its highest for your MS clients, you should know that cold (really cold) also impairs nerve conduction. And it exacerbates spasticity.
Which leaves the only real option… San Diego.
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