How the Weather Affects Lyme Disease and Chronic Pain

leaves

Autumn, like a breath of fresh air it waltzes into the room. With that breath comes a change, a good-bye. For many it signifies the closing of a carefree, fun summer season. Leaving in its wake warm memories laced with a tinge of sadness that life is returning to its daily grind. Summer is often looked upon by many as a respite from life/work.

But, for me autumn is the respite that summer is for so many others.  I welcome the milder weather it ushers in.  Before winter’s icy fingers come and rest on my shoulders, autumn is like a gentle breath of fresh air. Not too hot, not too cold and if I’m lucky not too damp, it is a season of moderation. A season of laying to rest the toils of the summer heat.

With Lyme Disease at the “Helm” of my life, mild is like my heaven.  If I lived in a perfect world, the weather would be a constant early autumn morning. Bright and sunny, with little chance of rain. The perfect forecast for my tired body.  Just enough warmth in the air to be a soothing balm on my hot, achy joints, with little humidity and a gentle breeze to provide the music of rustling trees before the leaves fall.

But unfortunately, this perfect world does not exist. Although, I will be the first to admit  that it is lovely here in this part of the country. North Carolina is full of green trees, flower gardens, blue skies, mountains, beaches and all that lies between.  Here the weather is a constant raging ball of change. It ranges from scorching, hot, humid summers; to icy, treacherous winters.  I am constantly seeking the balance that comes with autumn’s relief.  I am thankful to live in a state that experiences a very real changing of the seasons. Although, to be honest I could well live without the dreaded winters and sizzling summers. I could easily settle for variations of our North Carolina spring and autumn all year round.

autumn

This year I am extra anxious to see autumn arrive. This summer season has been one long struggle for me. Heat and humidity have been my constant enemies. My body simply cannot take either one. The humidity causes my joints to hurt and swell. If my body temperature rises too high, then I suffer from massive flare ups of Lyme symptoms. Apparently, Lyme hates heat. My blood pressure goes haywire, I get dizzy and have terrible fatigue and headaches.

With all of the recent stormy weather off of the east coast due to hurricane Hermine, my body is in a bit of a “Tizzy,” (as us Southerners like to say.)  My joints are in dire need of a break from the damp and humidity that is synonymous with summers in the South. I am so grateful that summer’s heat is slowly fading. But, with that reprieve comes a dread.

Something that puts a fear in me far worse than the unrelenting heat of the sunny season. In a word, winter. That word alone has the power to make me cringe. The cold an even bigger enemy than the heat. The ache that I feel every day in my bones and joints is magnified ten fold when the temperature drops below sixty degrees.  My Fibromyalgia and CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) kick into overdrive. I feel as if I have a never ending winter flu. I am so exhausted I feel like a hibernating bear.

I spend all winter trying to “Keep warm.” Warm enough so that my Raynaud’s Disease will not kick in and make my toes and fingers turn fifty shades of blue, numb and clumsy. I dread the cold that I know is right around the bend a few turns north of autumn. I am in a constant struggle to accept the current weather situation while dreading what’s coming next.

snow

Several winters ago, I ended up with a migraine headache that lasted for months. I was so weak, dizzy and nauseated I rarely moved off of the couch. I had just had a severe anaphylactic reaction to Naproxen and could not take headache medicines. It was quite literally one of the most miserable seasons of my life. My joint pain was at an all time high and I had no medicine to counter the deep, throbbing ache that accompanied it. This is exactly what I picture when I think of winter. It is no small wonder that I fear it.

I am always amazed at how I can predict the changes in the weather before I have even read the forecast. My body could be a barometer. I wonder if I they would hire me down at the local weather station? This could be a new career for me. No kidding!

If there is a prediction for rain two days out, I can usually tell by the ache in my joints. If there is a cold front coming in, my headache will lead the way. If there is a full moon, watch out, I turn into the wolf man (Or should I say wolf lady) . Every evil symptom comes out of the woodwork, ready to wreak havoc on my life.

It has long been the thought, that changes in the barometric pressure (air pressure) cause joint pain to intensify. It can cause migraines to appear out of nowhere. It can put an added strain on weakened cardiovascular systems, increasing the chances of a heart attack or stroke. With the changing of the seasons allergies come out to play.  For those of us who suffer from chronic pain and illness, changes in the weather can make life a misery.

Whatever the coming season brings with it, I am bracing myself for it. I’m just thankful that autumn comes before winter. It gives me a little more time to prepare. A little more time to live before I go into the hermit mode, that I associate with winter’s chill and damp. Let me just say, “Welcome autumn, please make yourself comfy and stay awhile.”

Blessings,
Valerie


9 Responses to How the Weather Affects Lyme Disease and Chronic Pain

  1. Chronic Mom says:

    I'm with you on getting rid of the heat and humidity. I live in Texas and summer is a killer. I'm counting down the days until it starts getting a little cooler.

  2. Kami Lingren says:

    I feel you on the summer heat struggle! It is awful. I am sorry the winter is so hard for you too! I don't have good circulation but don't notice the same pain or fatigue levels and flares in winter that I do in summer. Hopeful for that with the coming of fall, the cooler more mild temperatures and seasonal colors. Hoping for that for you, too. 💚 Hugs to you, lovely.

  3. Valerie says:

    Dear Shelley,
    I hope it cools off for you soon! I can't imagine the Texas heat. NC is already such a steam bath. Thank you so much for the visit and your sweet comment.
    Blessings,
    Valerie

  4. Valerie says:

    Dear Kami,
    Thank you so much for your sweet comment. Yes, this heat and humidity are killing me! I hear you! I have Raynaud's Disease, so I have poor circulation problems too. It is no fun. I am looking forward to autumn. I hope yours is extra lovely and filled with healing days.
    Blessings,
    Valerie

  5. Priscilla says:

    My heart is with you all of the time. Love ya Mom

  6. Leighann says:

    I didn’t know that the seasons affected lyme disease (nor do i know much about it anyway!). Generally though, I love fall too and would love to have it year round. I’m sorry about the discomfort that you have to go through and wish there could be a perfect place with the perfect climate, where you wouldn’t need to worry! Great post and thanks for teaching me new things, that I wouldn’t otherwise know!

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Leighann,
      Thank you so much for reading and for your kind comment. I’m wishing for that perfect climate too! Maybe someday. 😉 Blessings and happy holidays, Valerie

  7. Laurence Badgley, M.D. says:

    At G+ (Google’s answer to Facebook) and under my name, I discuss why weather causes the pain of Fibromyalgia to worsen. Lower ambient barometric pressure and heat cause muscles to lengthen; thereby enabling joints to be looser and the body tower to be more floppy and ligaments to be more stretched and pained. During winter cold constricts peripheral blood vessels, causing muscles to spasm and joints to grind.

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