This has been a L-O-N-G, hard winter. Frigid temperatures, record snowfalls, ice storms, it has been never ending. I have had enough! Although, Spring officially started about a week ago (according to the calendar) it appears to be missing. I'm thinking of placing a missing season report with the authorities.
I have to wonder if Mother Nature is going through peri-menopause and we are just witnessing her crazy mood swings. Mother Nature – get a grip! Or I wonder if our extended winter is in response to the popularity of Frozen, “the cold doesn’t bother me anyway”.
Why do I care so much that Spring is late? I'm Canadian and we are supposed to pride ourselves on our weather extremes. I care because this is the first winter where my RA has made things tough.
Why would winter make my RA worse, in particular, why am I so tired? Here are my thoughts. There must be a plausible explanation.
Winter means cold. When it’s cold outside, you dress differently. Say goodbye to tank tops, shorts and flip-flops, say hello to winter coats, snow pants, hats, mitts, scarves, extra sweaters, extra socks etc. All this extra stuff means my already tired, sore joints need to do extra work to lug around all those extra pounds.
Winter boots - argh! They are bulky, heavy and offer no support. Oh and the winter socks, bleach! Sometimes my feet get so hot, they swell. Not an ideal situation. Basically, my feet hurt all winter. Each year I tell myself I should get new boots, but then procrastination kicks in.
Snow and ice bring extra work. You have to shovel it, scrape it, salt it. Just melt, already! Besides moving it from point A to point B, the sheer act of walking through or on it can be exhausting. By far my least favourite winter precipitation is ice. Ice brings a completely new level of... well... fear. I’m so scared of falling. Falling and not being able to get up by myself or worse falling and hurting myself.
Did I mention that winter is cold? I’m sure my body is using up extra energy just to maintain my body temperature. And the act of shivering to keep warm makes me so tense. This is in addition to the tension I already experience trying to prevent a potential slip. I have to keep reminding myself to relax. All this tension is giving me a headache!
I miss the sunshine. I'm sure the lack of vitamin D, a generous donation from the sun, makes me more tired, sucking away my motivation I might have had. During the warmer months, I am always outside, albeit sitting, but at least outside. There is a lot to be said about being out in the fresh air.
I know that being physically active can make you feel better. Now I'm not talking about an intense workout, just simple things like going for a nice (short) walk. I haven't been able to do this since the Fall. Our road is just too icy, cars have enough trouble going up and down it, forget little ole me going for a jaunt. And walking through the snow is just plain difficult.
Everything takes longer in the winter. Getting anywhere takes forever, you have to get bundled up, warm up the car, clear the snow/ice off the car, shovel the driveway/walkways etc. Extra time spent doing these things means I have less energy left to do other things. The fun things!
I miss my fresh veggies and fruit. It is true you can get them at the grocery store but they are imported, tasteless and far from fresh always going rotten so fast. We have eaten lots of frozen this winter. Yuck! We were spoiled this past growing season when we received a box of fresh, locally produced organic veggies. Getting a box each week forced us to eat healthy and I'm sure it helped me feel better.
I think everyone who experiences true winter gets a little bit of cabin fever at some point. Being stuck inside can play havoc on your mind and mood.
So perhaps it isn’t winter, per se, that makes my RA worse, but it is my response and behaviours to it that do. Anyhow, let’s hope that Spring really is around the corner or else I’m heading to Florida!
Does the winter affect your chronic illness?