Nobody knows what causes MS, there are a few theories, but nothing has ever been proven. One thing that is evident though, is that there are less cases of MS, the closer you are to the Equator. For this reason, people believe that Vitamin D has something to do with it and it remains an active area of research. Yup, that good ol Mr Sun, the one I SPF my face every day in the UK to avoid and then on holiday with access to 11am cocktails, end up falling asleep in it, looking like a menopausal flamingo on fire.
Without any definite answers I don’t know if the extra strength Vitamin D tablets I take every day help, but it can’t do much harm can it (I’ve found Costco to be the best place to get the highest strength variant). Also during an MS relapse, if you increase your dose of Vitamin D through natural sunlight, then it can help, some people say.
So after speaking with my MS nurse about this, and her telling me the benefits of Vitamin D I was a bit excited. I started imagining the holidays on prescription the NHS would be giving me. I mean c’mon, boob and nose jobs galore, so surely they’ve gotta let me have a little cheeky weekend in Benidorm to give my brain a bit of a VIT D juice boost. It makes sense doesn’t it?
Sadly and much to my surprise, you’ve got more chance of getting an antibiotics prescription for a “no-its-just-a-viral-infection” appointment, than a few days topping up your tan with a Pina Colada.
BUT, this did mean I had a valid excuse to go on holiday. For medical purposes, of course. I knew MS had to give me a benefit someday, and boy this was like hitting the jackpot. I do love a good holiday you see.
After losing my sight in Feb and it slowly returning, my bloody bugger of an MS decided to throw a spanner in the works and hit me with another bout of blindness (known as optic neuritis) in June and then another one at the end of August. Now having a relapse means my immune system starts attacking my brain, it literally just decides “nah we don’t like you, take this!” and starts eating away at all the plastic coating on the little electrical wires (my nervous system)….I’m still learning about how my body reacts in a relapse, but I’ve noticed I start losing my balance a lot in the lead up to it, I could be standing next to you and all of a sudden I’ll be going to fall over (see this isn’t always due to drunkenness for people who know me). I’ve also noticed now that I start very subtly stuttering and forgetting words in a sentence…nothing major but enough for me to recognise a pattern.
You feel pretty pants with a relapse, fatigue whacks you where it hurts, and for me, I couldn’t see, AGAIN. Being able to see is something I had always taken for granted, I don’t now, but as with every cloud, there is a silver lining and it has reignited my love of taking pictures and capturing beautiful things I do see! I have over 30,000 pics on my phone alone, and no, not all of them are selfies. Honest.
Once my mum and dad knew that being in the sun could help with a relapse, that was it! It feels like they go on holiday every month, so it didn’t take much persuasion. In August when I lost the sight in my left eye, within 5 days I was booked on a flight to go out and meet them in Spain.
When I arrived, feeling like I just wanted to climb into bed and hide, my dad had other ideas. Now that he knew about the link with the sun and MS, he almost thought it could cure me. Hence he had been planning out where I could sunbathe for maximum Vitamin D exposure, waited on me hand and foot so I didn’t have to go in the shade (ever!) and literally stood next to me with an imaginary clipboard telling me when I was allowed to have a break from my VIT D exposure schedule. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed and loved him all at the same time as much as I did that weekend.
I then made the mistake of explaining to my dad how Vitamin D was absorbed by your body, how each area of skin had a maximum absorbency level, so you really needed to wear as little as possible to get the biggest hit. The next morning he woke me up at 7.07am (sun in optimum position to receive rays at this time don’t you know) and started explaining that he had been out since 5am scouring the area. He was delighted to report that he had found me a private beach and that “You can get ya kit off there Rach” and no one would bother me or bat an eyelid….yup my dad was had found me my very own nudist beach, and it was now added to my sunbathing schedule on his imaginary clipboard.
Was this really happening to me? I couldn’t breathe through the laughing.
I don’t know if it was the nonstop laughter or the sun done that the trick that holiday, but after 2 days, I was able to stop on the morphine strength drugs and the pain in my head and eyes was so much better! If I have the chance to be in the sun now, I will take it. With a disease that doesn’t give you any forms of control, I have the attitude that as long as I am sensible, then I have got nothing to lose.
If you would like to read more about the links between Vitamin D and MS, then the MS Society explains it much better than me on the link below… funny that there is no mention of nudist beaches don’t ya think, must tell my dad.
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Thanks, Rach xxx