Have MS? 10 Things You Should Do When Going to the Spaby Trevis Gleason Patient Advocate
For many people, MS or not, a trip to the day spa is a pleasurable respite from the real world. Relaxing, rejuvenating, restorative are just some of the adjectives people use to describe a few hours spent being pampered. Like most things in a life with MS, however, a bit more preparation is needed for us to fully enjoy some delicious downtime and a bit of proper pampering.
Check-in with your medical team
While relaxing, a day at the spa can be physically taxing, as well. Before you plan your massage, mud bath, and hot-wax pedicure, double check with your MS medical team to make sure your body is up to it and ask them about smart precautions you might consider taking.
Make a pre-visit (don’t just look at photos online)
If this is your first time, or if it’s been a while, make an appointment to visit for a walk-through. Make note of tripping/slipping hazards, toilet facilities, the height of treatment tables and chairs as well as locker room benches and the like. Ask about accommodations, like shower chairs, disabled parking spaces, and the like.
Let them know of your condition
Most spas will have you fill out information and release forms. On those forms, they’ll ask about your general and specific health. As we’ve a pretty important condition, why not let them know in advance? A call a few days before your appointment – or even better, when you make your booking – will allow staff to be ready to serve you better and make any contingency arrangements you may need.
Plan your day before and day after
Like with any other event, a bit of forethought can make for a much easier and more pleasurable experience. Rest, hydrate, double-check your plans. And, let’s face it, some spa treatments can be intimate experiences. Perhaps plan your diet a day or two before in order to limit possible embarrassments. As to the day after (and the remainder of your spa day once you get home), drink extra water, plan to feel a bit washed out, and give yourself some time to luxuriate in the afterglow of your me time.
Bring your own footwear
Many spas will offer guest disposable slippers to wear throughout their facilities. While these are handy and hygienic, they are also one-size-fits-all and can be hazardous to someone with foot/leg issues with their MS. Ask about bringing your own shower shoes, flip flops or AquaSox to the spa. Break them in them before you head off to the spa.
Keep it cool
The spa can be humid and is often several degrees warmer inside than body temperature. This can bring on Uhthoff's Phenomenon in many people living with MS. Make sure you take a cooling shower before you head out from the house, take another before your treatments, and make sure you cool off throughout your visit. Some spas will have ice handy for such cooling and may even have cool rooms or tubs. Cool off after your treatments before you leave the spa as well.
You’re not going to the spa to exert yourself, but you’ll likely do a bit of sweating. Massage, in particular, compresses tissues and moves interstitial fluid (making up as much as a quarter of the body’s fluid) around. Make sure that you drink plenty of water and hydrating juices and herbal teas before, during, and after your day at the spa. You might want to avoid diuretic beverages like coffee and green or black tea, as well.
Plan to pee
So, we’ve pre-hydrated, drank plenty of fluids, and had our interstitial fluids compressed into our vascular system. We have MS, so there is likely the sound of waterfalls, fountains, pools, and showers throughout the place. We’re going to have to make sure we know where the toilets are from every treatment room, heated chaise, and relaxation nook.
Bring a buddy
Spa days are fun and relaxing but, as we’ve seen in our previous nine points, have their challenges for someone living with MS. Perhaps we should plan to go with a friend. They can help with some of the planning, make sure we’re safe, and it’s never a bad idea to have someone else drive you home after a day at the spa. Besides, what better way to spend time with a dear friend (or partner) than a few stress-free hours at the spa!
Don’t forget the reason you’re going to the spa in the first place. Relax! You’ve planned your visit, you’ve done the homework. Now sit back and soak in the soothing surrounds and let the stress float away.