How the Weather Affects Lyme Disease and Chronic Pain
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.
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.
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.”