Posts Tagged With: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The Weather Factor & Multiple Sclerosis

Sometimes I am even able to act like a tourist! ūüėČ

I am not able to speak for everyone with Multiple Sclerosis, but in my case, weather is a major contributor to relapses with my MS.  Not that cold is better than hot or hot better than cold or even the fluctuations of the drastic changes in temperature on Spring and Autumn days in the South.  There are days we run the air-conditioner in the day and heat is on at night.  These extremes and fluctuations where brutal to my MS symptoms.  

Now I am living in Medellin, Colombia, South America. ¬†Many ask why an American would leave the U.S. to live in Colombia? ¬†The simple answer – weather! ¬†The nickname for Medellin is The City of Eternal Spring. ¬†For someone with MS like me… the climate is ideal. ¬†With fewer days of really hot or really cold and the fluctuations of a mild Spring day back home (1.5 hours North of New Orleans), I notice fewer relapses while in Medellin. ¬†By no means does it mean they go away, but the severity of relapses is reduced as well as the frequency. ¬†Regardless¬†of climate, fatigue remains my chief adversary! ¬†Even here I fool myself into believing I am able to do more than I actually am capable of.

With a new place to live comes the obvious challenges like finding a place to live, learning a new neighborhood and making new friends.  Moving to a new country adds even more challenges like language and immigration issues.  Fortunately for me, Colombia actually has a special visa to encourage people to retire in Colombia Рa pensionado visa.  This visa is granted to anyone with a pension (Social Security is considered a pension).  Any Colombian Consulate or Embassy in the U.S. can give you the step by step process for getting this visa.  The downsides are: it is a government agency so understand going into it that foreign governments are as bureaucratic as ANY government and the visa needs to be renewed annually. This process is always subject to change especially and now more so because the Colombian Free Trade Agreement is being implemented with the United States of America (which MAY even simplify thing more Рcross my fingers).  I cannot (will not) discuss the political issues associated with the Free Trade Agreement until I learn and know more about it.

Making new friends in Colombia is EASY Рthey are a welcoming people!  But for me, there is the added obstacle to educate friends about how my MS affects me.  One main reason is because Multiple Sclerosis is much less common in South America in general versus North America.  Just as the climate seems to reduce my relapses and symptoms, it also reduces seems to reduce how the local population is affected.  The photo shows, the further south one goes, the fewer MS diagnoses.  Since there are fewer people diagnosed with MS, it is even more important to try to educate my friends how this illness affects me.  My experience has been overwhelmingly supportive!   Just like in the U.S.A., there are many misconceptions, but once I explain, most are understanding AND supportive.

Medellin may not be the best solution for ALL people with MS and I cannot even advocate

Maybe a benefit of a healthier lifestyle will be weight loss! ūüėÄ

ANY one else¬†would find it as¬†beneficial¬†as I do, but it could be an option for some. ¬†Medellin is now ranked the #1 city in Colombia (link below) “According to this year’s study, Medellin made massive improvements in several areas including environmental initiatives, where it jumped three places to rank fifth. In human capital rankings, which consider health, education and employment opportunities, Medellin came in second place, moving up one spot. “We will strengthen(…) the goal of furthering the education and training of our human talent to achieve equity and remove inequalities,” assured Medellin’s Mayor¬†Anibal Gaviria.” ¬†I always mention Colombia’s tourism¬†campaign¬†slogan Colombia: the only risk is wanting to stay and my slogan for Colombia would be: Colombia: it is not what you think… it is so much MORE (maybe I should trademark that? lol)!

*I am not a medical expert of any kind and this article only reflects my personal opinions and experiences!

http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/25140-medellin-ranked-colombias-best-city.html. 

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MS Monday

I will die WITH Multiple Sclerosis, not FROM Multiple Sclerosis!  This has been an epigram by which I have lived since being diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis in March 2000.  There are very few people in my life that KNOW the true effect this illness has had on my life and how I am able to live it.  I was a double major at Ole Miss (The University of Mississippi for international readers) studying Marketing and Real Estate.  I took the Brokers exam immediately after graduating, but not one day did my Real Estate Brokers License get put to use.  But the aspects of Marketing have followed me in every area of my life Рand life with MS being one.

How do I use Marketing in relation to my MS you may ask?  Mainly, I TRY to present the best face!  Most people, other than my family have never seen the amount of TRUE down-time I have as a result of my MS.  They only see me when I am feeling good or decent anyway.  With Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis what happens is just as it sounds.  I have relapses and I have remissions.  This is not completely true in that one symptom has been CONSTANT for me for more than 5 years now.  The numbness someone feels in their leg when it goes to sleep, I have had the nonstop for more than 5 years In all of my right leg and from the knee down in my left leg.  This symptom sometimes becomes more severe and causes me to fall, trip, and limp.  These are the days few people see me.

My legs show the constant battle scares with the wars of the simple effort of walking. ¬†MS also sometimes causes me dizziness, so add that to numb legs and sometimes just getting from the bed to the bathroom without falling takes effort! ¬†Another of the most common symptoms is fatigue. ¬†Fatigued, dizzy, combined with numb legs can create DAYS of anti-social behavior and hours of sleep even most teenagers fail to accomplish on any give free weekend. ¬†The use of a cane is sometimes needed even inside the house, so when this trifecta of¬†symptoms¬†hits, I become a hermit. ¬†When traveling, I general need the use of my cane just because the act of keeping a schedule, carrying luggage and the stress related to travel (thanks TSA – it is very easy for me to take off my shoes and but them back on with a line of people breathing heavy and muttering “HURRY UP!) ¬†The photos represent marks from just the last month of “walking” or attempting to walk!

Also as the name implies, there are MULTIPLE symptoms during relapses usually.  I am familiar with most of the symptoms listed on the photo above at one point or another.  When one symptom passes another comes it seems.  But the beauty is I can market the pain as less painful than the reality or I smile even when it takes all I have to just not scream!  Since the relapses change and each person with the disease have different symptoms, MS is frequently called a designer disease.  This makes marketing my illness easy because as in this blog, I can only speak for myself and how MS affects my life!  Anyone that knows me knows I am a shameless self promoter! lol

There are few photos (if any) of me with or using my cane. ¬†The one I use is kind of a¬†combination¬†of a crutch with a cane. It is not that I am ashamed of NEEDING walking assistance, but I am able to “market” myself as healthy and happy like most people like and want to see. ¬†Simple activities take more from me and takes me more time to recoup from doing them. ¬†Friends know I do not go out much any more because not only do I have to have the energy and ability to go, I pay for it usually having fatigue from a night out – even if I do not drink a thing! ¬†Any friend that has had a “night out” with me… please see that as evidence you are worth the extra effort. ¬†For those I have said no to, understand it is not you… most times it is just my body does not cooperate. ¬†Most likely I used a different excuse than my MS, because actually – I like when people FORGET I have it… I WOULD LIKE To FORGET MYSELF! ¬†But my body reminds me too often!

Facebook is a haven for me to post photos from times I am feeling good and that I actually do get out and do something fun.  I even at times market

Car shopping in Medellin

myself too well, with people thinking my MS presents little or few challenges in my life. ¬†My idea is I better do it (whatever it may be) while I am feeling ok because the¬†moment¬†I am ABLE to do “it” may pass. ¬†There are things I am willing to share in my blog that I do not share with REAL people in my life, because the people “in” my life, I am afraid of them feeling pity,¬†sympathy¬†or sorry for me. ¬†Breaking¬†precedence, look here…a photo of me WITH my cane (I have named it Pablo and the story why will come later)! If you are someone “in” my life and this blog reveals new information to you… you have fallen victim to my marketing and as I have learned from experience – I am damn good at marketing, especially marketing myself! ¬†

I will post about my life with MS weekly (I hope)… follow my blog and feel free to donate! ūüėČ


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