Summer time is in full swing here on the East Coast. We’ve had temperatures in the 80’s and the grass is growing like weeds. Actually we do have some weeds where there shouldn’t be since we’ve been getting tons of rain during the past month. Definitely not drought weather here.
But with heat and rain (and humidity) come annoying MS symptoms and potential pseudoexacerbations. If you are heat-sensitive (like me), then a trip to the beach may be a challenge. I’ve been very fortunate lately and my MS has been fairly quiet. But in gathering supplies for the trip, I’m being confronted with the reality of what it may take to have a good time.
On the top of my list is a battery operated fan which I picked up on clearance at a department store years ago for less than $2. Actually I bought two. Best summer money spent ever. They even came in handy when we lost power last year during to storms and thus lost air-conditioning for a few days.
Next I need to find my cooling vest, the kind which uses several frozen icepacks to help keep the core body temperature down. It’s not the most attractive of clothing fashion, but it can be a lifesaver if you have a way to keep the icepacks frozen between wears. Fortunately we are staying at a house just a block from the beach and I could ask Rob to retrieve replacement icepacks if necessary.
Frozen bottles of water could come in handy as well. Just be sure to open the bottle and drink a little before you place them in the freezer. You want to have room for the ice to expand. I don’t recommend using the freezer to chill down cans of soda. If you forget about them, the cans WILL explode and create a huge mess.
Regarding mobility, I had a recent experience which reminds me to pack my cane "just in case." Rob and I were weeding the landscaping a few days ago. I took several rests when necessary. At one point, I thought I was "done" but after another rest in the rocking chair on the porch, I joined Rob in tackling some jungle-like plants outside my studio door on the side of the house.
Suddenly, Rob heard a "woah" and turned to see me standing strangely in the driveway. I had almost fallen. "Come over here, please," I said. Rob came over and we linked up arm in arm. Rob helped walk me to the front porch as my legs were moving all catywampus. I sat there for quite awhile before cooling off enough to have the strength to go inside the house and take a much needed shower. 30 minutes later, after enjoying the air-conditioning house and resting, I was fine.
I’m also planning to take a large-brimmed hat and sunglasses on our trip. Too much bright light hurts my eyes and gives me headaches. Next is the sunscreen to protect against methotrexate-induced photosensitivity. I don’t need any crazy rashes or sunburns.
The next to last MS-related category on my list is medication. Although I’ve not needed to use several symptomatic drugs lately, it’s probably a good idea to have them on hand. That’s also the case for my backup supply of steroids, just in case I wake up and can’t walk, talk, or see.
Finally, I wouldn’t go on this trip to the beach without my sweetie. Rob supports me in so many ways. He will retrieve items for me that I may have forgotten in another part of the house. He doesn’t mind making several trips from the car to house to move items to or fro. And, he’s always there if I need to lean on him when I may "look drunk" to strangers.
I think that we’re going to have a great trip. The Weather Channel predicts that we may encounter thunderstorms, but that’s okay. You’re supposed to get wet at the beach, right?
What trips have you taken or plan to take this summer? What did you pack in your MS travel kit? Hope you are enjoying the summer and staying cool. Be well.
Lisa Emrich is a patient advocate, accomplished speaker, author of the award-winning blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA, and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers. Lisa uses her experience to educate patients, raise disease awareness, encourage self-advocacy, and support patient-centered research. Lisa frequently works with non-profit organizations and has brought the patient voice to health care conferences and meetings worldwide. Follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.