By Emily Gordon
The change of seasons is exciting for most, but for those living with MS, it can be a daunting time. The weather is getting chillier, which means for some of us, our spasticity is kicking in. The extreme fatigue can reach an all-time high, and cognition can begin to suffer.
The colder months ahead can cause a bit of stress regarding the uncertainty of your health. Tremors, numbness, tingling, trouble with balance, issues with cognition… OH BOY! It can be nerve-racking to have to think about all these things. I have picked up a few things throughout my 10-year MS journey that have helped me manage these symptoms.
You could find it more difficult in the coming months to get moving. Daily movement is not only good for your body, but it is also great for your mind. Take time to enjoy the season! Get outside for a walk if you are able and take in the beauty of autumn and the colorful foliage. Or stay indoors and do some stretching and/or yoga. An MS diagnosis does not mean you need to stop living. It is a time to START living. Enjoy the little things in life!
Boost your mood
Every morning I meditate. I take 10 minutes before everyone in my house wakes up to just BE. Be still, be present with my thoughts, set my intention for the day, and be mindful of my emotions. Living with a chronic illness – can bring rough days, be mindful of these rough days and feel what you need to feel, whether it be frustration or sadness.
Be proactive and productive
It is so easy to fall into a rut. I have used the “I’m too tired” statement one too many times. The truth is yes, I was tired, however, I have learned in this journey that being “too tired” and not doing anything will only make you more tired. Fatigue is unfortunately a big part of battling MS. I know my limits and sometimes I do have to say, “I’m too tired” and rest. But on the days my body and mind can afford to get ready, put some makeup on, get dressed and have a wonderful time are always the times I am glad I pushed through my fatigue.
Stay on top of your health
Write down when you are experiencing a new symptom and talk to your doctor about it immediately. Be conscious of even the slightest change in speech, mobility, or balance. In 2020, my infusion center had to shut down due to the pandemic. I was behind on my disease-modifying treatment by 2 months. I woke up one morning and was unable to swallow, move the left side of my body, or speak. I spent two months in the hospital and 12 weeks (about 3 months) in rehab teaching myself how to walk, talk and write again. MS is completely unpredictable and changes in your health can happen overnight. Take it from me. Be your own patient advocate, since after all, no one knows you better than well… you!
MS has been a part of my life for a decade. It has certainly never been easy. This disease is extremely unpredictable. I will leave you with a saying I use when I am having a rough day.
“It is not about the cards you’re dealt, but it’s about how you play them.”