Heat Is My Enemy

By Miley Foster
Updated 2024-04-03 09:59:45 | Published 2020-12-05 20:27:46
  • Multiple Sclerosis
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man with sweaty forehead

Three years ago, I embarked on a scooter ride to explore Open Studios in San Francisco, an event where artists welcome the public into their workspaces to discuss their creations. What started as a typical art adventure took an unexpected turn, landing me in the emergency room. The culprit? Heat.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), individuals with MS, like myself, are sensitive to temperature changes. When our bodies become warm, our damaged nerves struggle to transmit signals effectively. I am extremely sensitive to heat, and on that fateful day, it got the better of me.

As the day progressed, the fog dissipated, and the sun emerged, causing the temperature to rise. I failed to notice the gradual weakening of my body and delayed removing layers. It wasn't until I found myself in a pottery studio unable to control my scooter with my weak hands that I realized I had a problem.

Struggling to remove my tight sweatshirt, I foolishly decided to push myself to the bus stop, hoping to find shade. Unfortunately, shade was scarce, and as minutes went by, I grew even warmer and weaker. When the bus arrived, I couldn't operate my scooter at all, and an ambulance had to be called.

Upon arriving at the emergency room, I learned that I was dehydrated and had an unnoticed urinary tract infection (UTI). However, none of these issues would have impacted me so severely if not for the heat. This experience taught me valuable lessons about managing heat sensitivity.

Even a slight increase in body temperature can be problematic for temperature-sensitive individuals. Over the years, I have tried various methods to stay cool, such as relying on an electric fan, avoiding hot showers, and exercising in cooler temperatures. Clothing choices also play a significant role in managing body temperature.

In extremely warm environments, a wet T-shirt and a fan can provide unparalleled relief. Staying hydrated during warm weather and opting for popsicles or cold fluids can help cool down. I also take Tylenol before going out if I anticipate warmth or suspect a mild infection to help lower my temperature.

Location is a crucial factor for individuals with MS. Those residing in cities with high temperatures might spend most of their time indoors with the air conditioner running constantly. I intentionally chose my current residence for its cooler climate, which I am grateful for, although my wife prefers sunny locales.

Living with MS has its challenges, particularly when it comes to managing heat sensitivity. Nevertheless, it is essential to adapt and find ways to navigate our circumstances. By sharing my personal journey and the strategies I've adopted, I hope to inspire others living with MS to find their own ways to cope with heat sensitivity.

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