Learn To Listen To Your Body While Living With Multiple Sclerosis

Listening to what your body is saying while living with MS

What is your body trying to tell you?

Fall is here and I am so excited! This and spring are my two favorite times of the year because of the temperatures. I have learned over the years since my diagnoses of Multiple Sclerosis, that 50-75 degree temps are when I seem to do the best, experiencing fewer symptoms. The only way I can describe it is being a bird and learning to fly, and after weeks of struggling I am soaring across the sky. The fatigue seems to decrease along with pain and muscle spasms so I take advantage of this as much as possible. Being outdoors is probably my favorite thing, soaking up the sun and being as active as possible.

I find myself reflecting back on the days prior to being diagnosed and wondering if I even knew what my favorite season was, and I can honestly say that I went at such a high speed 100% of the time that I rarely took notice of anything. MS has changed my life and my outlook on life so much that now I appreciate so many things that I use to take for granted. An example of this is the fact that I am up walking on my own; just a few years ago, I was in a wheelchair. Lemtrada, Campath as some of you know it, is responsible for this miracle. This medication, which the FDA is still having issues with approving for use, has been a fantastic drug for so many people. I am praying that it will finally be approved by the end of the year. It is responsible for reversing so many problems that I was having.

If I were to give some advice to my old self at the time of being diagnosed from where I am now, the most important thing I would want to say is, get to know your body then learn to listen to what it is saying. MS is a hard disease to live with and there are so many symptoms associated with it. There are things that make these more difficult like heat, or cold, being exhausted, stressed, angry, not eating correctly or healthy, or even taking medications inappropriately. What I have found over time that making simple choices can change how we feel from day to day like:

  • Maintaining a body temp that is comfortable for us
  • Taking rest periods between activities
  • Learning to deal with stress and anger
  • Put yourself on a schedule for going to bed and waking up
  • Eating a healthy balanced diet
  • Taking medications at a scheduled time each day and proper amounts

These are not difficult things to do but once I started this routine I noticed I leveled out as far as being up and down the scale with symptoms. Knowing your limits is just as important, which means learning to say NO. I used to tell people that my “battery was dead” but the fact is I could be fine one minute and not the next. I had zero warning when this would happen which frustrated me, but what I found was that I wasn’t listening to my body. On the days when I want to accomplish more than normal then I prepare in advance. I will have a light day prior to and the day following the event along with frequent rest periods the day of. This prevents over tiring then being down several days afterwards, preventing me from accomplishing other things.

Listening to your body also entails taking your PRN medication when you first feel the increased pain or muscle spasms coming on to prevent lengthening time and severity of these complaints. It also means calling your physician when you realize that you might be having a flare or exacerbation with your MS. Steroids given early help reduce severity. One other thing, knowing your body and listening to it will make you aware when something abnormal is happening not associated with MS. This is extremely important to know the difference in your symptoms so you can alert your Primary Care Physician if something new is being experienced. This information could save your life.

All in all accepting yourself and your limitations is extremely valuable so that you aren’t pushing yourself to accomplish tasks that are beyond your ability. This will also keep you make wise choices when planning your day and prevent beating yourself up when you aren’t able to complete an activity. Keeping a healthy outlook on life will hopefully keep you upbeat when things aren’t going like you want them to.

MS Blogger and Multiple Sclerosis Activist shares her journey living with MS, tips for others living MS and her husband, Steve, offers his insight as a caregiver for MS.