Gardening Safely When You Have MG
Last updated: April 2022
When you're finished reading this article, check out part 2, "Gardening and Harvesting Adjustments for MG."
Spring is just around the corner, so it won’t be long until it’s warm enough to get out in the garden! While gardening isn’t for everyone, for me, it’s very therapeutic.
I absolutely love watching the flowers and plants grow each step of the way. I keep records of when I plant the seeds, or plants and when the seeds germinate. I also record when they begin flowering and are ready for harvest.
I have myasthenia gravis (MG). You may ask, "What does that have to do with gardening?" My answer is, "Everything!" Those of us with MG know and understand that heat and/or cold can be extremely problematic for our body. Therefore, we have to plan our time in the sun.
Risk of skin cancer
Working in the sun can be hazardous to our health, especially if we are prescribed medication that can also contribute to potential sun-related complications.
Mycophenolate (Cellcept) is one of those drugs, and I’ve been on this medication for the last 11 or 12 years. My neurologist warned me and discussed with me the potential cancer risk before she switched me to Cellcept.
The drug, and myasthenia gravis, itself comes cautionary measures while working outside. My neurologist discussed potential side effects with me. From what she said and my research, I know too much exposure to sunlight can potentially cause me to have a higher risk of skin cancer, so I have to be smart about the time I spend in the sun.
So, what do I do? I plan! When we put our vegetable and flower gardens in, we try to work on them in the early morning, evening, or when the area is shaded. We have a great spot for our garden where there is shade for a short while in the morning and in the evening.
It gets its 6 to 8 hours of sunlight during the middle of the day when it is hottest. That suits us just fine! We can take shelter in the house during that time.
I like to do our watering in the evening, but I also water in the morning if the plants are overly stressed. I enjoy hand watering and do that in the spring, but in summer and fall, we use the sprinkler. Because of evaporation from the heat and sun, pretty much nothing is done in the garden mid-day.
Avoid the heat
We choose to do our weeding and harvesting early morning when everything is fresh and crisp. The morning sun is less traumatic to the plants and me, too! As the day warms, we leave the rest for evening.
Leaving some of the work for the next day is also a smart thing to do. I never overtax myself! The heat alone can really exhaust me.
We do our garden inspection in the morning, then I set priorities. Once the priorities are set, out we go with a drink of water, sunscreen, and gloves. The sun can actually be intense where we live in the south by 10:00 AM or 11:00 AM, so we generally stop around that time and go inside.
We rest or work on our indoor responsibilities when we can’t work in the garden. Around 3:00 PM, the sun is low enough to be less intense and start a cooling trend. We generally return to our garden around 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM to complete our priorities of the day.
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