Do Weather Changes Affect MS?

“The Rain is Coming”

January 22, 2012

I’m a walking barometer. I don’t have to listen to a weather report to know that a change in weather is coming. I can feel it.

My spasticity starts to worsen; my hands, legs and back begin to feel tight. I get tingling sensations and start to drop things. My coordination and balance problems go haywire. And then sure enough within a day or so, it starts to rain.

I hate it when it rains—or when it snowed when I lived in Pittsburgh. Those low pressure systems are killers for me. And when they linger on for one day, two days or more, I become more miserable. My one ‘bad day’ turns into two ‘bad days’ or more. My MS symptoms intensify, especially the spasticity and pain. And the longer it rains, the worse it gets.

I become unmotivated, lethargic and moody. My husband remarks that my moods change like the weather. I say, “yep, you’re right on that one!” No argument there. But, look out everybody if you are a female and have PMS at the same time…

I don’t have an explanation for why this is. I never researched it. I’ve talked with so many people with MS that this happens to; it isn’t a figment of our imagination.

When I moved to the desert from Pittsburgh, there was no question in my mind that a dry climate with limited days of rain helped relieve so much of my pain and stiffness. Pittsburgh is a soggy, rainy city almost like Seattle. People with rheumatoid arthritis move to the desert for this reason, too. My aunt has rheumatoid arthritis and she moved here over thirty years ago for this reason.

I was talking to a neighbor one day after a horrific thunderstorm passed through our valley. This good-hearted neighbor has four kids with severe brain damage. One child is biologically his, two are adopted, and one is a foster child. He told me the day before a thunderstorm hits, all the kids have seizures. I find that astonishing. There must be a neurological explanation to why this happens to us. I’m going to have to look into this.

I wonder what people with nervous system disorders living in the Amazon do. Maybe there aren’t a lot them in this situation; MS is rare down there nearer the equator.
People with arthritis say the same thing when it rains. They feel stiffer and experience more pain. My friends with arthritis who visit their relatives in wet or humid climates are happy to come home to the Valley of the Sun.

I try to keep up with exercise and deep breathing to relieve as much of stiffness and pain as I can during a rainy spell. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Complaining about it to others in our situation doesn’t solve the physical effects, but it does help the mood. There are sure a lot of us out there in the same boat. As they say, misery loves company. Sometimes I just throw in the towel and crawl in bed with a glass of wine and a good book.

The wind has just picked up and the rain is coming. My fingers keep missing the keys as I am writing this and I am becoming very frustrated. I think I’ll just throw in the towel and get that glass of wine. Eventually, the sun will come out again.



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