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Hot, hot, hot!

Over time, I have learned that the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease — especially those caused by a malfunction in the autonomic nervous system — can be more challenging to live with than the traditional motor symptoms associated with PD. These symptoms include everything from drooling to increased urgency and frequency of urination, to too much or too little sweating.

My faulty thermostat has me living in what feels like a constant state of heat exhaustion, and I’ve yet to even experience the joy of menopause. Hot flashes that come and go would be a welcome relief from feeling “hot, hot, hot” 24/7. I am certain that one day the sun and moon will align in such a way that these conditions will collide head on, giving rise to an internal inferno that will melt down what Parkinson’s has left of my brain.

Even on Chicago’s coldest days, when the winds howl and the temperature feel like double digits below zero, I am comfortable in my warm-up suit. For months, my winter coat sits like a prop in the back seat of my car in case of emergency … like should I hit one of Chicago’s bottomless potholes and find myself with a flat tire.

Strangers stop me on the street to ask, “Aren’t you cold? Where’s your jacket?” Do they think I don’t know when I’m cold, or are they worried that I can’t afford a winter coat? I tell them my mother lives in Florida and offer them her phone number so they can rat me out.  They shake their heads in disgust and walk away.

 

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WPC - Montreal, Canada 2013

hot hot sheryl

When holiday shopping with friends, they are bundled up in turtlenecks, shirts, jackets, hat, scarves, and gloves. Just looking at them makes me sweat. I, on the other hand, am wearing my year-round attire: a light cotton shirt over a tank top. That’s it. Smelling the mall air gets my adrenaline pumping and sends rivers of water rushing down my back like the rapids. Trying on clothes in this state is impossible because everything I put on sticks to my body.

At home, where I can control my environment, I try to keep the temperature at a balmy 70 72-degrees year round. The recent installation of a behemoth 2-1/2 ton air conditioner in my loft office has transformed what once was very poorly insulated attic space into the “meat locker” of my dreams, and made it easier to keep the whole house cooler.

Knowing this, visiting friends and relatives come dressed in layers and eagerly accept the afghans and jackets I loan out… be it winter, spring, summer or fall. I feel badly that our guests are cold, but I’d feel even worse if I were hot and had to start peeling off what little clothing I had on in order to breathe. 

 

 



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