My tips for staying warm in winter with MS

19 January 2024

Antoinette in a powered wheelchair

Brrrr! Ice, snow and wind can wreak havoc on MS symptoms. But fear not, Antoinette has some top tips to chase the chills away this winter.

Although some people with MS struggle with the heat, I love it! I thrive in the summer and can do much more than I can in the winter. For me, the cold and damp are the enemy.

As with everything, years of experience have taught me a few tips for coping better in the cold weather. Now, I can enjoy being outside again and get on with life. Maybe these tips might even help you too.

I love being barefoot. I spend most of my time with nothing on my feet and feel steadier when I know my feet grip the floor, rather than slippery socks. Trust me, I can slip with the best of them!

But, when my feet get cold, my legs can seize up. Sadly, I can no longer get to those feet because I don’t have any flexibility (cutting my toenails is a constant worry). 

Putting on socks used to take me up to an hour, until I found a wonderful way to do it in seconds.

It looks questionable, but a small bit of flexible plastic and some rope (which cost less than £10) saved me. Curl up the edges of the plastic and slide your sock on to them, then drop on the floor, slide the plastic under your foot and pull it back and your sock is on. 

Mission accomplished.

Piece of plastic with rope coming through it
Antoinette's sock application tool

“What about the shoes?” I hear you ask. Yep, they’re not easy when you can’t reach your feet and can’t move your leg to slip them on.

I ended up spending ages desperately holding my leg up and willing my foot to magically move into my shoe.

One evening, I nearly cried from the frustration. 

I needed footwear that opens entirely so that you can put it down on the floor and slide your foot in, like flip-flops. Everything I found was orthopaedic, or for much older people. I thought I’d be at a loss forever. But my search eventually brought me to a company who make zip on footwear for disabled people!

They have trainers, shoes, and winter boots. Yep, you guessed it! The winter boots were the ones that I fell in love with.

The top of them unzips fully, so you can hover your foot over the sole and place it down. Then, just zip it up and boom! You’re ready to roll. I can’t do the zip on one side, so I use an improvised hook that I made. 

I’m getting quite handy, you know.

I get through outings by stopping for regular breaks in snuggly cafés. Not only do the drinks warm me up, but it’s also essential to hit the toilets. When you’re out and about, you never know when your next W.C. sighting will be.

It's important for me not to get too cold. If my toes are cold, my legs stop working, and if my fingers are cold, my arms will be out of action.

Before you know it, the chills will put my mobility on ice.

When I get home, my hands start to feel weird. So, I reach for my trusty compression gloves, which I bought online. I’ve read that the weird feeling is your nerves warming up again, and it can be rather uncomfortable.

The compression gloves keep my hands squeezed in place, so they don’t act up. The thinness of them means they can be worn under normal gloves too. I must admit, I find them very soothing.

Ok, so I love the boots and gloves, but my favourite item when I get home is my good old fashioned hot water bottle, closely followed by my dressing gown. You can’t beat the classics.

So, there you have it folks. I’ll keep learning and finding life hacks to tackle the frost.

Stay warm everyone.