Warm As Toast
Baby it’s cold outside – at least here in the north it is! That said, it can be a challenge to stay warm and maintain our body temperature during these winter months. I talk to so many folks with RA who seem to have a preference for climate. Some like the colder, drier temperatures while others are more comfortable in the summer months, relishing the hot days. This is yet another example of how unique each person’s own experience with RA is most of the time.
For me, colder is better, albeit within limits. We get temperatures here in Vermont that often fall well below zero. Surprisingly, that may not be the entire or even significant part of the problem. It is all about the WIND CHILL FACTOR. As long as there is little to no wind, I can deal with cold temperatures. But the wind, oh my, the wind, can literally pierce right through me!
Which brings me to the question – what is the best way to stay warm? Although somewhat individual there are some rules of thumb. For footwear, the current recommendation now is light wool or polyester socks as cotton tends to absorb moisture making our feet feel much colder and more stiff, not a good thing for those of us with RA! And layer with care, allowing your feet room to breathe in your shoe/boot. As to boots and shoes, waterproof is always the way to go in the winter with the threat of precipitation always present. If you buy shoes or boots that are not waterproof, or even if they claim to be, I always apply a waterproofing spray to my shoes every year! I just take them all out on the back porch in a well-ventilated area and spray away. I have boots and shoes that are ten years old and still look like new with no telltale watermarks anywhere. It is money and time well spent. For less than $5 you can apply over a dozen pairs of shoes/boots!
As to clothing, I love fleece and flannel and corduroy. They are so comfy and warm and feel wonderful against my joints. I also think that because of the natural tendency of these fabrics to hold heat, it allows us to not have to wear too many layers which can result in too much weight on tender joints. I can wear a fleece hoodie with a lightweight shirt underneath and be perfectly warm. Fleece lined leggings or yoga pants for lounging around or just popping out to the store are great too! For sleeping, I love to use flannel sheets in the winter. I do not like to get too warm when I sleep since my joints tend to swell sometimes during the night, so I put on my electric blanket BEFORE I get into bed, then turn it off when I get into my nice toasty bed. Loose pajamas are a must as anything too constricting means pain and discomfort. This also goes for winter clothing in general. Coats as well need not be tight and heavy. I love the fact that below the knee, down coats are popular and plentiful at the moment and thanks to fact they are so light weight they work perfectly with RA. They are also waterproof and keep me warm and comfortable throughout the winter.
I keep my home temperature in the low 60’s and my bedroom no warmer than 60 degrees all winter. Any warmer than that and I just don’t feel comfortable. That said, we do get chilled with RA from time to time so I do not hesitate to turn up the temperature if I am feeling cold.
As long as you carefully plan for the weather, winter can be a true wonderland and a season you can embrace.