Springtime and Multiple Sclerosis
It’s Spring, and every Spring I have an MS flare. There’s nothing I can do to stop it, no way to prevent it, the Spring flare happens every single year no matter what I do. It’s a fairly common phenomenon with MS. Many people have flares every time the weather changes drastically, for example when seasons change. One theory is that these seasonal MS flares are caused by a change in the pollens, molds, spores, and other potential allergens in the environment. Since Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, that makes a lot of sense.
Personally, I seem to typically have a more obvious MS flare when Spring starts, but seldom have problems with Summer, Fall, or Winter changes. For the last ten years the beginning of Spring has affected me enough that I was unable to function at my normal for several days up to two weeks. Every Spring, I usually lose at least some muscle tone, strength and flexibility. Last year as Spring came in I had vision issues, was hit with MS fatigue, was weak and experienced brain fog. I was unable to work for a about four or five days due to debilitating fatigue.
This year, however, I barely noticed my yearly flare. In fact, it was so mild that I mistook it for my glasses needing changed. For about 3 weeks I experienced mild vision disturbances. If I read, used the computer, used my cell phone, knitted, or did any other close up work, with or without my glasses, my distance vision would become seriously compromised for several hours after I had completed the close work. (I have prescription glasses for reading and for distance, but I rarely use either because I only need them when I’m having MS related eye difficulties.) Wearing my distance glasses after doing the close up work didn’t help improve my vision, and I started thinking that maybe I needed to have my prescriptions changed. It seemed like my eyes were taking longer to adjust to distance changes than they should be. Then, it dawned on me– It’s Springtime. When I thought about it, I realized I had a couple of days where I felt run down, needed an afternoon nap, and was more fatigued/tired than I should have been. This was my Springtime Flare. I increased my magnesium, LDN, and anti-inflammatory herbs, and started taking biotin again. Within a few days the symptoms lessened. I’m still having a slightly slower adjustment time to distance changes, but now it’s minutes instead of hours.
For me, this year’s Springtime MS flare has been very mild, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. What’s different about this year compared to last? It’s certainly not pollen counts— the pollen has been very high in my area lately. My theory is that I’m simply healthier this year than I was in previous years. For the last year I have been concentrating on improving my overall muscle tone through basic movements. I stopped sitting at my desk most of the day, and changed over to a standing desk. I’ve made it a personal goal to take at least 5000 steps every single day, even if that means I have to walk in place at my desk or walk around my house until I meet that goal. In the last year I started running. I can run farther than ever before in my life (don’t be impressed, I can still only run about 1/4 of a mile before I have to stop). My goal is to be able to run a 5k without stopping. I try to go for a walk of at least 2 miles each and every day. Some days I have too much going on to get in my walk, but I am active all day, every day. I rarely need an afternoon nap anymore. I’m doing weight work using the HIIT method. Twice a week I go to the gym, and do the whole weight circuit. I use the highest weight I can for each machine that allows me to repeat the movement 5 times. If I can’t do the movement 5 times, then the weight is too heavy. If I can do more than 5 of any one movement, then I increase the weight. I go biking for as long as I can, as often as I can. Biking takes a lot out of me, so I don’t do it often, but I’m working to increase the frequency.
It’s always been my theory that if I have more strength, stamina, and ability at the beginning of a flare, then I’ll have more room to lose before the loss effects my ability to function. My goal for the last several years has been to get through a Springtime flare without any serious loss to my functioning. My method of getting there was to build my strength and see if it helped.
Of course, my experience doesn’t necessarily prove my theory. There really is no way for me to prove or disprove this, it’s just my opinion, based on my experiences in my own body. MS is unpredictable. Next year, or even later this year, I might be hit with a flare that knocks me on my butt for a week, or month, or even permanently, but for now, I choose to believe that my methods are working for me.