Heat

summer

The summers of my youth were idyllic. I remember family vacations at cottages on the Connecticut shore, where a Good Humor truck was always parked near the boardwalk. Days would be spent frolicking in the water, crabbing, and riding bikes. Twice a week, we’d grab blankets, pillows and snacks shortly before sundown, and trek to the beach to watch a movie. The night air was warm, the sound of the waves gently lapping on the shore was always present, and the sand was filled with chairs and blankets as kids and families gathered to see what was typically a Disney movie. This was Heaven for a ten year old boy.

Days at home during the summer was spent riding bikes all over town, visiting a friend’s house to go swimming in their pool, or playing baseball all day long at one of the large grassy fields near my house. When it wasn’t raining, the only time I was in a house was to have breakfast, lunch, dinner and to sleep.

Summer was, and always has been, my favorite time of the year. The onset of summer vacation from school was wildly anticipated and celebrated, even for those of us who liked school and were good students. Summer days seemed to last forever when I was a kid, and while the new school year always arrived faster than expected, the break felt like a long period of time.

My enthusiasm for the season didn’t diminish when I became a teenager, and had to obtain a summer job. All that meant is I had less time to have fun, but fun was still to be had, and I pursued it with the passion of a religious zealot.

What is there not to like about summer?  It’s much more enjoyable to throw on a t-shirt, shorts and sandals than to bundle up in layers, struggle with a pair of boots, and find places to stash winter gloves or a hat. There are no limits to what you can do in whatever free time you have compared to the cold winter months, when darkness prevails, you’re in hibernation mode, live in sweats, and spend most of any free time you have in front of the boob tube.

Even summer chores are more pleasant. What would you rather do, mow the lawn, tend the garden, and maintain the pool, or scrape ice and shovel/plow snow?

Another thing I loved about summer was the heat. You see, I would always rather sweat than freeze, and there is something about sweating in the summer heat that appeals to the prehistoric recesses in my brain. When I lived in Southern Indiana for several years, the summers were brutally hot and humid. From Memorial to Labor Day, a typical day would involve temps in the 80’s and 90’s with extremely high humidity. I never lived in a place where it would be hotter and more uncomfortable at six in the afternoon than it was at two or three. Being land-locked, the heat would just build and increase throughout the day, which is one of the reasons they had such horrific storms. You could literally walk outside and start sweating so badly you felt as if you were melting.

But I didn’t mind it one bit.

New Englanders can wax poetic about the beauty of our autumns, and feel invigorated by spring, where everything quickly explodes into a lush green after the long winter months, but I will take summers any day of the week.

It is too bad summers don’t like me that much anymore.

I say this as we approach a stretch where we will have a week of 90 to 100 degree weather and high humidity. Once a cause for celebration it instead is a reason for caution because, unfortunately, heat and MS don’t co-exist very well.

Pretend for a minute that your body runs on a battery, which gives you the energy to work, play, move, think, concentrate, or do virtually anything. Food and rest help recharge it on a daily basis, which in turn allows you to function from day to day.

For some reason, heat drains my battery to virtually nothing the longer I’m exposed to it, and I’m not unique. Many, if not most, MS Warriors have this issue. I believe an increase in body temperature is the cause for this power drain, but I don’t know if that is the true clinical reason.

The drain occurs more quickly if I’m active while it is hot, but it has gotten to the point where I can feel a difference by simply sitting outside for an extended period of time. When humidity gets added, the effect is exponentially worse.

Imagine your body feeling completely limp, like every bone is missing. Imagine feeling so weary that the idea of getting out of your chair feels overwhelming. Imagine your  head feels like it weighs one hundred pounds. Imagine your mind feeling like a vast wasteland of emptiness, where the act of thinking feels like a herculean task. Hell, even the idea of sleeping seems like a herculean task. Your focus becomes a narrow pinpoint that centers on the thought that you can’t believe how shitty and utterly spent you feel.

I’m describing a worst-case scenario, but I’ve been there on an occasion or two. Most of the time the feeling is one of significant physical and mental fatigue, and the mental aspect is far worse than the physical.

Some warriors use cooling vests to regulate their body temps during the hot summer months. If I still lived in Southern Indiana I’d probably own several and wear them constantly in order to survive their summers, but they aren’t necessary in my neck of the woods.

My respite from the heat is a pool, which includes a deck and large umbrella that provides a lot of shade. The umbrella cures a lot of sins in terms of the heat from the sun, but nothing can escape the humidity. Nonetheless, immersing myself in the pool provides relief from the heat, and cools my body temperature immediately. It isn’t a perfect solution, because prolonged exposure to the hot sun can still make me feel like the battery is at fifty percent or less, even when I’m in the pool. But it certainly makes life more tolerable, and who doesn’t love the feel of being submerged in comfortable, crystal-clear water on a hot summer day. It brings out the kid in all of us. I especially love to float in a raft where my butt and feet are in the water, my upper body and head is resting comfortably in a semi-upright position, and a cool beverage is secure in the cup container within arm’s reach. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Every winter and summer provides a platform to gauge the pace of my progression. The struggles of maintaining a clear driveway this past winter told me there was a definite progression compared to the previous year. Now, this next week will test the theory from the heat and humidity perspective. How much of a difference will I notice compared to last summer?

When I left the house to drive to work this morning, it already felt like a sauna outside, and the sun hadn’t even risen yet. I know it’s going to feel like an oven for the foreseeable future, but I have stuff to do. So it will be interesting to find out if I feel like a rag doll when the evening rolls around.

I hope not. I don’t mind bitching about the winter, because the winter deserved to be bitched about, but I hate the thought of being a prisoner in my own house during my favorite time of the year. I can live with watching people enjoy themselves from the sidelines. Watching it from the inside is a completely different story.

 

 

 

Author: Steve Markesich

I am loving husband, a doting father, a Red Sox fanatic, an aspiring novelist and MS advocate

26 thoughts on “Heat”

  1. I set my alarm for 5 am this morning to “get my steps in” Two hours earlier than normal, because like you, the heat and humidity will kick my ass. I haven’t had much luck with the cooling products because anything put against my skin when it’s so hot feels like ants crawling all over me, so I tend to “hide out” during the day in the air. I do agree about relaxing in the pool though….maybe next tear

    Liked by 2 people

  2. it sounds as if you and i had very similar summers as kids…….i didn’t live near an ocean but growing up in Michigan there was water everywhere. summer no longer is so much fun for me and yes, this 90 + degree days are very hard on the body. hope you are able to spend a lot of time in the pool!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had always thought I would always rather sweat than freeze before I went to Toronto. Humidity was unbearable so I ‘enjoyed’ their freezing winters more.
    How are you dealing with extreme cold, Steve?
    I guess it’d be ideal if the temperature dropped below 90.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is funny you wrote about summers in New England when you were a child! I grew up in Vermont for almost all of my youth. There were only a few years we live in NC near the beach, but I do remember how summers were not nearly as cruel as they are now in my life. Could it be that the weather has made such drastic changes or could it be as I have gotten older the heat bothers me way more or the most logical thing is the fun thing with MS! I live in NC now and unfortunately not near the beach. It has been in the very high 90’s for days now with a heat index in what feels like 1000’s!!!! This weather is taking the life and energy out of me and it is nothing short of misery!! I now have to plan my days accordingly! I never thought I would say this, but it works well for me to get to work early before the nasty humidity sets in too extreme! I also try to go grocery shopping either early in the mornings or late in the evenings to avoid the HOT weather!!!! I am trying to just accept and embrace these HOT temperatures because I think they will be around until October at the very earliest, but here in the south it probably will not end until December. I hope you have a lovely and relaxing weekend with the great benefits of your swimming pool!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good analogy of the battery. It’s crappy that you can’t enjoy something you once loved. I guess in that sense I’m lucky since I’ve never liked summer. As a frequent dresser in all black, summer and I don’t mix well. But this week has been a total killer. I went out yesterday and I still regret it today 😬 hope you can keep cool

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Last weekend I lived on my deck under the umbrella and jumped into the pool whenever I felt hot. Cold beverages also help. Would still rather sweat than freeze. Not surprised about your choice of color, BTW

      Like

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