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Sorry, I Can’t Today, the Barometric Pressure’s Changing

It isn’t two minutes before my knees start aching.  Standing in one place is too uncomfortable, so I start a casual stroll.  That helps briefly, but within five minutes my hips begin to protest.  I alternate standing with strolling, and ten minutes later my ankles begin hurting.  I try to shift my weight from side to side while standing, and my shoulders begin to throb from the weight of my arms.  When I cross them my shoulders are relieved, but then my elbows start aching.  I try hooking my thumbs into my pockets, but my hands object.

Such is a morning of bus duty when a storm is brewing.  I work at a public high school, and each morning I spend 45 minutes on bus duty, which basically means standing in one spot and greeting students.  This should be easy, right?  There are days when I joke about getting paid to say, “Good morning!”  However, when the barometric pressure is changing, all bets are off.  Suddenly, standing in one spot becomes an intense experience, leaving me desiring the treatments an athlete might seek post-marathon.

RA: unpredictable like the weather

Sometimes people who know I have arthritis will ask, “So can you tell when it’s going to rain?”  That seems like such a quaint notion, that one’s body could serve as a simplified weather-predicting device.  However, the actual experience feels nothing close to quaint.  It’s not nearly as bad as a flare, but changing barometric pressure brings discomfort throughout my body, making me hyperaware of all of my movements.  If an RA flare is the flu, these changing-weather days are like the bad head cold that stuffs up your nose, making you aware of each breath.  When the weather is in flux, every movement requires a bit of care and concentration to keep the pain at a simmer.

Like the weather, Rheumatoid Arthritis is unpredictable.  There are times when I’m sure I’ve overdone an activity and will pay for it the next day, yet upon waking find that I got a “get out of flare free” card.  Other days I don’t give an activity a second thought, and I end up surprised at the pain I’m in the next day.  And of course, there are all the aches, pains, and fatigue that can’t be connected to any specific event, other than the confusion running rampant in my immune system.  While barometric pressure is at least a cause I can attribute my swelling and discomfort to, weather itself is as hard to predict as my disease activity.  Sometimes a storm rolls in quickly, and I find it doesn’t affect me much at all.  My dad will ask, “How are you feeling with this rain?” and I’ll respond honestly that I’m fine.  With slower moving weather patterns or more drastic temperature changes, I can feel the weather in my bones a full day before the first drop of rain hits the ground.  Therefore, a simple 10-day weather forecast isn’t going to give me a reliable snapshot of what my arthritis activity will look like for the week.

This is perhaps the most infuriating aspect of RA, the unpredictability.  Intense pain, inflammation, and fatigue are hard to deal with regardless, but never knowing exactly when they’ll rear up makes it all the more difficult.  When I used to take Methotrexate, I could predict that each Wednesday I wasn’t going to feel great, and I could therefore try to plan around the predictable side effects.  While it was unpleasant to experience the side effects each week, I could at least arrange my schedule ahead of time to accommodate them.  This is in stark contrast to RA itself, which I can never seem to figure out entirely.  The longer I have it, the more aware I become of my flare-triggers, but there are so many aspects of Rheumatoid Arthritis that seem as fickle as the weather.  Therefore, when my unpredictable disease can be impacted by the weather itself, the forecast for comfort can never be 100% likely.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • jrf5460
    4 years ago

    Can you request that you be able to sit during stormy mornings? If that is not “reasonable accomendation” I don’t know what is!

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    4 years ago

    Funny you should mention that, as the denial of my request to use a stool was the only time I’ve ever had to threaten reporting an American with Disabilities Act violation. I wrote about it in this article: My supervisor was the least compassionate man I’ve ever worked for, but luckily I’ve since found myself a better work environment. Thanks for your comment, and for being part of our online community!

  • Michelle McArthur
    5 years ago

    This article is as accurate a description than any I have read in a long time…..if you don’t mind me asking Tamara, you mentioned you used to take methotrexate, why did you stop? I am currently taking methotrexate, plaquenil, Enbrel and naproxen but think it may be time to change it up. Thanks for your contribution and good luck with the spring showers we have coming ( I always dread this time of year)

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thanks Michelle! Yes, years ago I was on Methotrexate but the side effects outweighed the benefits. I switched rheumatologists and my new doctor wanted me to give it another try at a half dose, but I still felt awful on it. Now I’m on Arava and tolerating it, although I can’t tell yet how much it’s helping.

  • Lynn Haag
    5 years ago

    This article is spot on!
    “This is perhaps the most infuriating aspect of RA, the unpredictability. Intense pain, inflammation, and fatigue are hard to deal with regardless, but never knowing exactly when they’ll rear up makes it all the more difficult.”
    Thank you so much, I needed to read this today.

  • Heather Wysong
    5 years ago

    I can so relate to your story! Everyday I do lunchroom duty and car rider duty and tonight we are expecting rain lots of it! I ache in all the spots you mentioned and it seems like the more I do out of work the worse it gets! I don’t think my co workers understand why I hurt and why some days I’m exhausted! I work in an elementary school in Hixson TN! Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Robyn Sanchez
    5 years ago

    When the weather changes from dry to damp my RA flares terribly. It can be cold and my pain and swelling can be tolerable, but as soon as the humidity starts all bets are off. Paraffin wax is a nice “temporary” fix.

  • sharoncookie57
    3 years ago

    I so agree with you, we just had a humid rain storm and I am hurting so bad. It is sunny but it still hurts. It is still wet out, when it dry’s out I hope to see an improvement. Thanks for your words as I don’t feel so alone.

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