Cold Temps, Multiple Sclerosis, and I — Not a good combo!

  • Published January 26, 2017
Kim Fryling-Resare

Written By
Kim Fryling-Resare

It is extremely safe to state (with conviction, I might add) that I’m just not a winter person. Jack Frost and I just don’t agree with one another and we definitely don’t see eye to eye!

There are a multitude of reasons why the cold winter months and I don’t get along. Number one being that the cold temperatures actually exacerbate my multiple sclerosis symptoms. Unlike many with MS who are affected by the heat, I’m the exact opposite. I thrive in the heat, and suffer in the cold.

Every relapse that I have ever had has occurred during the wintertime, which constantly makes me question my decision to live in New England. I love the area but I often question it during these cold, gray months. Perhaps relocating is something that I will need to consider as time goes on but for now, the cold is more annoying to me than debilitating.

During the winter, my extremities always seem to be ice cold. My poor husband. In addition to kicking him every night with my “jimmy legs”* (another symptom that I notice increases in cold temperatures), I’m often putting an icicle of a hand or foot on his body to get warmth, resulting in him jolting and sucking in air like he just jumped into a freezing body of water.   

I feel the cold so much that I feel it down to my bones and in my joints. It is like a dull achy feeling that penetrates my entire body. The restlessness in my legs increases and appears to worsen by inactivity. I try to stay as active as possible but in the winter, it is not always logistically possible, and perhaps an excuse for the lack of motivation.

In addition to feeling achy, I’m sometimes so chilled that the only way to get some relief or comfort is to soak in a very hot bath. I also drink a lot of hot tea on those bone chilling days.

And lastly, the reason winter and I don’t get along is the lack of sunshine. It’s hard to stay upbeat and energetic when there is gray day after gray day, and it gets dark well before 5 pm. I try to stay as positive as possible, always celebrating the winter solstice because I know that after that, the days can't get any darker. If I’ve made it that far, I know I can make it through the remainder of winter. Day by day, I'm inching closer and closer to more light and warmer temperatures, and ultimately some relief.

SHARE WITH US:  Are you affected by hot or cold temperatures? Do you have any tips or tricks that you have found that work for you to combat extreme temperatures?

*Jimmy legs is a slang term for restless leg syndrome. Also made popular by a Seinfeld episode (Quote: “Yeah, because she’s throwing off my whole sleep.  She’s got the jimmy legs.” — Kramer)

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