By Penelope Conway
What can I say? Summertime is hot, muggy, sweltering, and sweaty. It used to be my favorite time of year for concerts in the park, trips to Six Flags to enjoy water rides and death defying trams that sent you into another universe altogether, cookouts, vacations, open windows with cool breezes blowing, family time, and relaxing by the pool.
Summer is not my friend any longer. It consists of ice packs, indoor air conditioning, weak muscles, brain fog moments, increased dizziness, vision difficulties, numbness, and tremors out of the norm. There are so many things I would love to do but the hotter it gets, MS won’t let me play. It takes the fun out of everything.
I have had to resort to my own creativity in order to stay cool. When I’m out on my riding mower to cut the grass, I hang a water pot from a tree in my back yard that I can purposely ride by and use it to dump some water over my head. If I could afford water running the entire time, I would do that on a mist setting but pouring some cool water over my head is just as amazing.
My right side has become useless most of the time so I have had to learn to steer one handed. It can be challenging but I get it mowed. Sometimes through tears but I look out over my lawn at the end of the day and am proud of my achievements.
I cancelled physical therapy and occupational therapy because it was useless to add therapy to my daily exercise routine. I still wake up and ride my stationary recumbent bike. I have to do that first thing in the morning. I just have to plan all my other activities around that. Thankfully I can do all my shopping online so no energy is need to go shopping.
Summer is a bit difficult for me to navigate through but it’s still doable. It’s supposed to be in the 90’s today. I’m not looking forward to that but I am ready with some ice water to sip on, ice pops to enjoy eating, and ice pack to use in my bed when it’s time to go to sleep.
No matter the difficulties there’s always a way through them if you don’t give up. Remember, giving up is not an option. Get creative and come up with your own solutions for the tough times. They may seem silly, may appear weird, and may only work once, but at least you are trying. That’s what matters in the end.
*Penelope Conway was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in November 2011. She is the author and founder of Positive Living with MS (positivelivingwithms.com) where she uses humor and her own life experiences with MS to help others navigate this unpredictable journey. She believes that staying positive and holding onto hope is the key to waking up each morning with the strength to get through the day.