Let It Snow?
It’s snowing outside now as I write this, which isn’t that unusual for March in Minnesota. March, depressingly, is often our snowiest month, much to the frustration of everyone who’s desperate for spring weather to arrive (which is, well, everyone). I’m pretty desperate for warm weather, sunshine, and no snow as well, however there’s something that comes with warmer weather that I’m not looking forward to: my RA getting worse.
Warm weather makes my RA worse
Am I crazy? Why would warm weather make my RA worse? Unfortunately, it does. The heat and humidity of summer dramatically increases my joint inflammation and RA activity, and especially makes my right foot and ankle blow up with swelling and pain. So while these pretty white snowflakes that are softly falling outside my window right now aren’t great for my mental health as we near the end of March, my RA loves them and the dry, cold weather. I dread the day when the weather will dramatically switch from lovely cool spring days to air heavy and swollen with muggy humidity. When this happens, my body immediately begins to revolt. Fingers puff up, everything aches, and my constantly-swollen right ankle balloons even more, causing disabling pain. So yeah, I kind of hate summer. I also hate sweating, but that’s another story.
Different weather preferences for different people
I find it interesting how so many people prefer warm and even hot weather for their joints and RA. Am I a strange anomaly with my preference for cold weather? Is it because I’m used to it, living in the cold, icy tundra-land of the North? I was born and raised in Minnesota and I can still clearly remember “normal” childhood winters that consisted of mountains of snow everywhere that took months and months to melt. I’m also familiar with school and business closings due to outside temperatures dangerously below zero with windchills in the -20s and -30s. No big deal! I’m a Scandinavian with cold weather in her genes and bones, yet before I got RA at age 18, I loved summer. A lot. Since then, warm, summery weather has wreaked havoc on my body. Also strange, perhaps, is that the cold weather doesn’t make my RA worse at all. It doesn’t stiffen up my joints or cause any extra aching or pain. No, not at all. It feels good. Am I a weirdo or what? Who cares, I guess. I’m an RA weirdo who loves cold weather.
Always trying to figure out RA
RA is such a complex, complicated, and perplexing disease because it affects everyone differently. It can also change on you at any time, which doesn’t help things when you’re always trying to figure out how to keep it under control. I am grateful for the few things that I’ve been able to deduce or nail down about how the disease affects me during these 20 years of living with it; there’s not much, however. A clue here, a clue there…I often feel like I’m playing detective with what’s going on with my body–and I’m usually a bad detective. But! Recognizing that hot, humid weather makes my RA and entire body miserable is a pretty important thing to pay attention to, I think.
So, what am I supposed to do, knowing how the heat and humidity causes my joints noticeably more swelling and pain? Most people don’t know this, but Minnesota during the summer is extremely hot and humid. There is not snow year-round, contrary to popular belief (or jokes). It gets tropical-like, while being maddeningly landlocked and nowhere near an ocean. People barricade themselves indoors lapping up the central air-conditioning. This is ridiculous when you think about it, that for the majority of the year we are forced to remain indoors due to either extreme cold or heat. But yeah, it gets very hot and humid and miserable here. Should I start taking a summer hiatus to somewhere cold and/or dry? I don’t know where I’d go, but I’m really tempted to do it. As I mentioned before, I really hate sweating. And pain. I’m not too keen on wearing shorts, either, when it comes down to it.
Summer’s coming and my ankle is already screaming at me, “No! No! Escape!” Who knows, I just might. Are there any other cold-loving “RA weirdos” who want to join me? Oh, Canada…?