RheumaBlog

Same dragon, different day.

First–thank you, everyone. Your comments to my last post lifted my spirits and made me smile. It’s so good to know there are people out there who understand and empathize about living with autoimmune arthritis. 

Like anyone else who struggles to be “normal” while dealing with chronic pain and disability, occasionally I go dark and gloomy. I don’t like myself this way; I’m a glass-half-full person, generally optimistic and ready to smile. Glum and sad isn’t “me.”

Summertime always tests me, though. At my own home in the mountains, it gets quite warm, even hot in the summer daytime, but nights are almost always blessedly cool. I look forward to the evenings for the relief they bring. But here at my Mom’s place in the very low foothills just above the wide valley floor, the days are a lot hotter than up in the mountains, and the nights don’t cool down much at all. It’s 10 p.m. as I write this, and it’s still 85 degrees outside. Maybe it’ll drop to 70 by sunrise—and then it will start climbing again. These terribly hot days will last until mid-October. Summer lasts such a long, long time.

When I was kid, I liked summertime. I didn’t mind the heat at all. We lived down in the valley, and when school—which I hated–got out, I became an Indian. Summer meant freedom to run and play, to ride my bike and explore, to go to the library and bring home all the books I could fit in my bike’s basket and read them all at my leisure. Summer meant swimming in the back yard pool at my aunt and uncle’s house, playing Marco Polo with my sister and our neighborhood friends there, drinking iced lemonade and eating popsicles. Summer was the Fourth of July with Piccolo Petes and Fire Fountains and sparklers on the back yard patio just after dark. I went barefoot from the moment school let out just before Memorial Day until it started again the day after Labor Day. My fair skin turned cinnamon, my blonde hair flaxen, my young body fit and strong. We ran through the sprinklers and played tag on the lawn as the sun went down, running and playing and laughing until it was dark and the crickets sang. Sure, there were bee stings and skinned knees and sunburns, but they weren’t so bad. I healed.

Summer isn’t magic for me anymore. Even before I was diagnosed with RA, I’d stopped being impervious to the heat. Hot weather makes me feel sluggish, sleepy and irritable. Going outside is like walking into a solid wall of parching heat. And for some reason, I flare more in the summertime. Or, maybe I don’t flare more, I just hurt more when I do flare because I’m already so uncomfortable.

I don’t know. That makes no sense, really, as Mom’s house is cool and comfortable, kept that way by central air conditioning. I only experience the heat when I step outside. But maybe that’s the problem. I feel confined to the indoors by the heat. I can’t just walk outside and enjoy being out there like I can in the fall and winter. In the cold seasons I can bundle up and go out—I can make myself ready for the cold. In summer, though, I can only take off so much. Even my skin is too much when it’s 95 degrees and climbing.

Ergh. I really need to snap out of this funk, gang. My Mom is feeling fairly well, but I’m staying with her because she forgets to take her meds, or worse, forgets why she’s taking them and decides not to anymore—which can cause obvious problems. Other than that, she doesn’t need me, really, so we’re more like roommates than anything else. I’m able to leave her a couple of days each week to go to my aunt and uncle’s house down in the valley—they of the swimming pool—to cook their meals and do their grocery shopping, and anything else they need done. My uncle had a stroke several years ago that disabled him and took most of his eyesight. My aunt needs a break from the caretaking so she can do some things she enjoys.

Since being unemployed, I’ve come to treasure being useful to someone. It makes me happy to be needed, and it’s been nice to make a little spending money, too. I’m worried that this endless, crappy bursitis pain, coupled with my increasingly painful and frequent RA flares, will hinder my ability to keep helping my relatives. What then?

Indeed.

Well, phooey. I know I’ll get over these blahs. I think I’ll start walking again, even if I’m not supposed to because of the danged bursitis. I’ve lost weight this spring—a real triumph—but I’m stuck in place even though I’m still dieting. A little daily exercise might help me jumpstart things. And I know from experience that a 45-minute walk every morning will clear my head and make me feel better mentally as well as physically. Even if I have to go very slowly and not very far, getting out there will make me feel more accomplished. And if I go early-early, I can be done and back inside where it’s cool before it gets miserably hot.

Dare I hope that I might, just might, re-acclimatize myself to the hot valley weather? That somehow by putting myself out in it, I might learn to like it again? Hmmm. I just need to do it. Slather on the sunscreen and go.

Wish me luck? Send me some motivating thoughts, some peace, some smiles and laughs?

Or… how about a little magic?

10 thoughts on “Looking for magic

  1. Cathy says:

    No magic here Wren, but plenty of positive thoughts. Maybe an early morning walk is just what you need. For me, it sets the pace for the day and the more I do it, the more I love it! You are doing a lot for a lot of people and taking that little time each day to focus just on you and your own thoughts is very calming. Good luck friend!

    By the way, I loved your description on your younger days in the summer. Maybe you can slip your shoes off on one of those walks and run through a sprinkler just for old times sake. 🙂

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  2. Great post and one I could totally relate to. I have added your blog on mine as one to follow and your insight into summer is spot on. Even here in Vermont our summers get very humid and hot and I am not one that copes well, RA or otherwise with the heat. I could never live in a continually hot climate…I often think that it would be so depressing to be inside in air conditioning looking out at the beautiful blue skies and be unable to venture out because of the heat! At least in Vermont, when we are having a blizzard you WANT to snuggle up by the fire and watch the weather from indoors! gentle hugs, Nan
    email me at nmhart14@aol.com

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  3. carlascorner says:

    Just as fall and winter follow summer, this, too, shall pass. On top of everything else, looks like you’ve developed a case of the doldrums. A walk every morning sounds like just the ticket — something to look forward to and get you out of your air-conditioned confinement. Hugs.

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  4. Lisa H says:

    Oh yes, Wren, I know just what you mean! I live somewhere with similar heat issues (though none of the lovely winter you get) and summertime leaves me feeling trapped, too. We end up indoors for the day by 10am. I can’t wait for the fall!

    Sending positive vibes your way. *hugs*

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  5. Detje Bea says:

    I loved how you talked about your days as a kid during the summer. I used to love it also but since having RA I find it difficult to breath. I have a huge garden every year since we moved her 7 years ago & I have lost all interest. I just don’t have the energy or strength. My hubby still decided to plant everything & I got about 100 mason jars from my neighbor so I am hoping I will get the passion to can this year. I just wanted to say I love your blog & I hope you get out of your funk very soon.

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  6. Ahhh the long ago days of summer. I felt like I was back in my heyday so to say 🙂 Thanks for sharing your memories as you sparked mine. I too like you find summer to be more painful for some reason. And as much as I would love to go out and do something, anything, the summer heat seems to suck it right out of me. I have tied mine to humidity but who am…surely no scientist. Just a wishful raer wanting some pain free time to go out and stand under a sprinkler again. Thanks for sharing, I do enjoy your blog.

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  7. mary says:

    Motivating thoughts…. Well, RA wise you have been through this before and you know that you will come out the other side stronger. There are many new drugs to try. So many more than when you and I began this journey so many years ago. One of them will work for you.
    Summer….that’s going to end soon and the cool days and chilly evenings of fall will be here again. Until then I think your plan of taking a walk in the morning is a great one. A little time outside always makes me feel better. I have gotten to the point where the dogs get their walk well after dark. Better for me and for them I think.

    Hang in there. Sending you good thoughts

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  8. Thanks for your kind repy on my blog (Rheumer has it)….Great tips by the way…I did end up icing then heat, then ice. Much better this morning (I think the crazy low-front weather that we’ve had the last few days may have something to do with it).

    A morning walk is sometimes just what I need to:)…It’s so hard to get going sometimes (especially when it just hurts to “be”)….but I really love going early before everyone is bustling around, and I just get to take my environment in…window shop, nature, etc. It’s just nice, and then I don’t mind when I’m tired, because my head is clear. Hope you have a beautiful day and get outside and the heat doesn’t get to you too much. (Hey, any chance you can make a pit stop at a frozen yogurt shop on your walk…not too bad for you and a nice refreshing treat for yourself to cool yourself off:)….that’s always a motivation for me!)

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  9. rouchswalwe says:

    Windchimes help my state of mind immensely in the summer heat. Those clear Japanese ones. And I have to admit that I am quite excited by the women’s World Cup competition. The Japanese team has come through a *load of adversity to make it to the Sunday final. Some friends and I are going to turn on the A/C and watch the match for inspiration. I send you happy thoughts and good vibes and cooling comfort, sweet Zaunkönigen!

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  10. Hi Wren, I just stopped by to visit for the first time and wanted to introduce myself. I’m fairly new to the RA realm, recently diagnosed in Dec. 2010, living with Severe RA for just over a year. I enjoyed this post. I’m a No. California native and remember all the things you mention of summer in vivid color. Thanks for reminding me of these simple, but remarkable pleasures.

    You are quite the caretaker of many people. How wonderful for you to offer of yourself to so many in your family, despite your own health trials. You’ve earned the right to a “funk diversion.” 😉 Thank you for sharing, as it helps me in my “newbie-ness.”

    I hope you will stop by my little corner of the RA world sometime.

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