July 31, 2008

No Pain, No Gain?

Posted in multiple sclerosis tagged , , , , , at 6:07 pm by melissasummers

  As with many others with MS, I have muscle spasticity.   Spasticity is a tightening or contraction of a muscle or group of muscles.  I experience this daily in both of my legs, occasionally the back of my arms and once in a while my stomach. 

  Imagine that you are on an exercise regimen, fulfilling a late New Years Resolution or just trying to get in shape.  A balanced exercise plan usually includes some weight workouts to gain muscle tone.  So out come the weights…don’t forget to dust them off!  As you start to lift the weights..one..two..hey, pretty easy.   Seven……oh boy, can I do eight?  The muscles are tiring, the body begins to struggle to maintain the motions that were once easy.  At this point a burn begins and there comes a point in which you will not be able to lift that weigh for another repetition.  So, if you are like many others, the weight goes back into the closet to gather dust, and you rest your muscles.  With spasticity, the muscle contracts as if holding a weight and then holds it’s position.  A burn begins and the muscle becomes fatigued. Movement becomes not as fluid and is sometimes shaky as the muscle struggles to work.  There is no weight to put down to relax the muscle.  It will quit when it is ready..or not at all.  When I was first experiencing spasticity,  I honestly did have fantasies of a super toned body without the workout!  Buns and Abs of Steel tapes?  Not this girl!!  Needless to say,  yes, I am toned..but will definitely not be entering any body building contests!

There are a few medications out there to help combat spasticity.  Unfortunately they also have side effects, the most common being drowsiness and fatigue-both symptoms that are already present in those with MS.  While I am on a medication to help ease my muscles, it is not as effective as my body would like it to be, and my body cannot handle a higher dose.   When I am very tight, the quickest cure is a nice warm bath.   Now, the fun part.  Heat aggravates MS symptoms!!    It is 85 degrees outside, I am stiff and sore, longing for a hot bath, but I am so heat sensitive!

Any MSers out there with that have a hot tub?  Truly, I am curious as if I make that investment, if I am careful with the temperature settings if that may work to help.  I am sure that it will definitely be of benefit once the weather cools down.




P.S.    Wow, over 500 hits on this blog…people are actually reading this?


July 16, 2008

Heat and MS

Posted in multiple sclerosis tagged , , , , at 5:29 pm by melissasummers

With the temperatures climbing above 90, I fantasize about climbing inside my refrigerator.  Hey, my little man that takes care of the light has been on vacation for the last month, which leaves room for me!

While heat can drain most people, those that have MS are very sensitive to the warmth.  Any symptoms that had been present, are worsened or magnified when the body temperature rises.  July weather, baths and even a fever can  cause this to happen.  Long before diagnostic technologic advances were around, MS was diagnosed by placing a person in  a warm bath to see if symptoms would increase.  Honestly, sounds more comfortable than being crammed into the shaft of the MRI tunnel!

While the heat can raise the feelings of weakness, being removed from the heat source will let the symptoms recede.  So to combat the heat I have in my arsenal the following:  Several cooling scarves in which absorb and retain cool water for a couple of hours (think running around in a wet swimsuit feeling), Cooling sandals that are kept in the fridge until ready to wear.  As nice as these sandals sounded, they only stay cool for about 30 minutes.  I also have a pillow cover that can be soaked in cool water and should work similar to my scarves.  As for how well the pillow cover works, it is new and I have yet to try it.

There are also vests available to keep MSers cool during the summer.  Some contain cool ice packs and other more advanced models actually pump and circulate cold water through channels in the vest.  These vests are more expensive than the items I already own, however if my heat sensitivity ever increases, I definitely will look into getting one.  Then again…Dad, you have an extra pond water pump?

July 11, 2008


Posted in Uncategorized at 10:55 pm by melissasummers

After cleaning a few corners of the house, we decided that the holiday weekend would be perfect for a yard sale.  We live just off a main road, perfect to snag those traveling North for a long weekend getaway.  Such work! Early start, late close..but between our sale and our neighbor across the street, we managed to block traffic on the road often.

Joker decided that the front yard is his haven.  Even though he escapes the backyard and roams whenever the oppertunity arises, he is a perfect gentlemen in the front yard.  He made sure all visitors were welcomed and would follow closely anyone that briefly touched him..one would think he has been ignored his entire life!




With the sale proceeds, it was time to upgrade my dilapitated shed in the backyard.  I found a great deal on a metal shed, but first the old one needed demolished! What fun!  So Harley and I set out to acclompish the demolition duty!

Harley and I flipped the shed over to reach the roof, and discovered colonies of insects underneath..Sorry to say, we destroyed an entire bug habitat.  My favorite little ones, that posed for me were the yellow and green slugs 🙂

So now I have a demolished shed and the new one is yet to be erected!  Another Wednesday “rest day”.

July 8, 2008

Accidental Creativity

Posted in multiple sclerosis tagged , , at 11:40 pm by melissasummers

My apologies on lack of updates recently!  As the weather warms, things get busy..I know I am not alone on that scenario.

Multiple Sclerosis affects many different parts of the body, physically and mentally.  Losing cognitive skills is a very common symptom or side effect of the disease.  I have found in the last year that multi-tasking is a bit more difficult and learning new things does not come as easy as it has in the past.  However, age is also a culprit. Yet, my next visit to my specialist, I would like to bring up this concern.

A couple of weeks ago, after arriving at work, I had the feeling that my right leg was longer than the left.  My foot placement felt odd and my gait was off.  Now of course with MS, odd feelings and symptoms are “normal”, so I plodded onward.  Since I felt like my foot was not stepping down where it should, I glanced down to see where my left foot was landing when I took a step.  To my surprise and horror…I was wearing TWO DIFFERENT SHOES!!  In my own defense, they were both brown and I had the right shoe on the right foot, the left shoe on the left foot…that should count for something correct?  

 So what’s a girl with two different shoes to do?  This girl laughed, laughed hard and long, and then showed off my “pedi-creativity” to my co-workers.