Heat (In)sensitivity

When I was first diagnosed with MS, I was warned by my former neurologist and by my feverish scouring of the internet vis-à-vis my strange new life, of one of the more common symptoms of multiple sclerosis: heat sensitivity. I was concerned because, well, I live in Central Florida, I do very physical work, and I do it outside. My diagnosis was in April; months of 90-degree temperatures and high humidity loomed imminently on the horizon.

That first summer, I replaced a driver who had injured his ankle. I was on the same route (a difficult one) for around 2 months, more or less every day. I remember the crushing fatigue of that summer—fatigue was my constant companion for at least 4-5 months after the “worst” of the exacerbation (numbness, weakness, loss of function in my right hand) had faded—but the heat didn’t bother me a bit.

You might wonder, but wasn’t the fatigue possibly due in part to the heat? I didn’t think so, but I wasn’t sure. Fortunately, the question was answered this past summer, where I felt perfectly fine each and every day. I hope for (and anticipate) the same for the summer of 2013. (In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen.)

As you can imagine, given my circumstances of location and career, I am probably gladder than most to be free from this symptom. It’s one less hassle of MS that I am currently fortunate not to have to deal with. My heart goes out to you for whom the heat poses problems. I have a friend in upstate New York who has MS, and she says she absolutely wilts outside in the summertime. Folks have been surprised to hear that the heat doesn’t bother me, but I just smile and tell them that I’m a contrarian by nature, so it doesn’t surprise me.

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Tea + Overactive Bladder = Bad Combination

One of my more annoying symptoms, which I first noticed this past summer, is difficulty holding urine for long periods of time. My mother used to scold me when I was young for going to the bathroom so infrequently. “You’re going to get a kidney infection!” she’d complain. I could hold it with the best of them. Now? Not so much.

Praise God above, I have no trouble making it to the bathroom IF there is one close by. Unfortunately, my job is such that I’m often nowhere near a restroom for much of some days. This requires frequent planning, occasional creativity…and the rare incident of peeing my pants. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, I wish I were.

During the summer, it’s bad because I drink copious amounts of water (I live in Florida and I work outside. You do the math.) But now it’s February, and I have no excuse.

I like to drink tea. Hot or cold, doesn’t matter, it’s a good beverage. This morning was a little cool so I stopped at the 7-11 on my way to work and grabbed a large cup of hot tea, then went about my day. Alas, as we know, tea is a diuretic. Around 9:30 a.m., I was needing the bathroom. ‘Round about¬† 11 o’clock, I was desperate.

Now, I could have stopped what I was doing and gone a little out of my way to the restroom. And in hindsight, I should have. This is, after all, not my first go-round at the “hold-your-water” rodeo. But…”3 more stops,” I told myself. But as 3 became 2 the urge to go got more intense and as 2 became 1 that package was heavy and I had to jerk it off the shelf and…I dribbled. More than a bit.

My bladder didn’t completely empty, thank God; I don’t know what I would have done if it had. It was bad enough as it was. I’m sure it was visible on my uniform pants, once I finally got to the location where there was a bathroom, and had to walk past people, and ask for the key…ugh. But oh, that relief when I finally let it out. Of course, the tea continued to do its work and I had to go AGAIN not even an hour later…not as urgently and I made it to the next restroom in time. I love being a woman, but it’s times like this that I envy my male coworkers who can just pee in a bottle if they need to, you know??

I have options. A.) Always bring an extra pair of shorts & underwear! B.) Wear Depends. C.) Don’t drink the wrong things. And D.) Sacrifice the time and GO when I need to! Or I guess there’s E.) I could get this:

goGirl_prodShot3_hp (image from http://www.go-girl.com)

It was embarrassing, yes. But it’s not that big of a deal. It could be worse (it can ALWAYS be worse). It dried eventually (thank goodness for a high in the mid-70s today; don’t you wish you lived here?) and I went on with my day. And I only had to pee 3 more times in the next 9 or so hours. In the future I will avail myself of one or more of the above options (although I confess that I plan to put off B.) for as long as I can) and life goes on. After all, I am still mostly the same (despite MS)…I just sometimes pee my pants.

Edit March 11, 2015: I did get the Go Girl device and I love it!!!!

Vacation

IMAG0353This is under the pier at Cocoa Beach. I’ve been off of work for a week. The ex-husband and I have done a few fun things (tennis, the beach, rollerblading around Lake Baldwin where the 2013 MS Walk will be) and I’ve also used the time to get some medical stuff out of the way.

I had my 3rd brain and cervical spine MRI this past Monday, and then I saw my neurologist on Wednesday. Thankfully, he had nothing but good news for me: my lesions are stable and there is no change from my last MRI back in June (which was much improved from my diagnostic one in April of 2011). God is truly good, as are the results of my continued positive attitude and exercise.