When Weather Affects My Symptoms
Last updated: July 2023
Summer is here! I don’t know about you, but a hot summer day is bittersweet for me. I love to lay in the sun and bask in the weather. However, my body doesn’t always allow me to enjoy it.
Summer heat can worsen narcolepsy symptoms
Getting overheated causes me to become extremely tired and nauseated, and it happens very quickly. It hits me in a different way than a normal sleep attack. I usually have a fair warning if I feel a sudden onset of sleepiness. I have just enough notice to get to a safe place to rest my head. When I am overheated, I have only a few seconds to figure out where to safely sit or lay down. I will go in to dream state instantly in this situation.
I try to plan my activities in the morning or evening hours when it is hot. I am always up to date with the weather forecast, and I often take extra clothes to change into. I always bring a tank top and shorts if I leave in pants and a T-shirt or blouse. I would rather change my outfit than end my outing early.
Winter cold can have an impact, too
Winters can be a good or bad experience for a narcoleptic. The cold can wipe you out or it can keep you awake. I have never been able to figure out the pattern, and sometimes I wonder if there is one with me!
One day I might be alert and able to stay outside for an extended period of time, and other days I may go outside and shiver, only to return to my couch or bed to sleep. If I leave my home in the cold, I make sure there is a blanket in the trunk and I am wearing layers of clothes. I need to be able to adjust my body temperature whether it is to cool off or to bundle up.
I love the outdoors in the winter, yet the driving can trigger my cataplexy and that is no fun! If I live in an area that has heavy snowfall, I will not drive, nor do I want to be a passenger! Just being in a moving car in snow and ice can bring on all my symptoms at once. It has always been this way for me. I would say anxiety is my number one trigger for my narcolepsy with cataplexy.
Finding what works for weather-induced symptoms
The last thing I want is to feel trapped in my home. I cannot let the fear of my disease take my life away. It is important to keep trying and finding what works to help cope with the onset of symptoms. I spent one summer avoiding going out; it didn’t make my life easier or more enjoyable, and I regretted it in the end. I played it TOO safe.
I do not want to miss out on life because I have difficulties that others do not have. If I can make myself more comfortable with a little extra effort, I will not hesitate to do so. One day I will be too old to enjoy some things, and it is important to me that I leave this world knowing I did what I could and didn’t let myself get defeated!
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