Monday, April 6, 2015
So without a doubt this has been one of the most severe winters I have experienced while living in New England. Not only from a snow and ice perspective but also it was sooo cold this season!
I have always been one to embrace whatever season we are in. It is one of the many reasons I could never live in a region that does not have 4 full seasons. I truly enjoy the change in climate and landscape that each season brings.
So this year I expected to feel no differently. Wrong. I found myself truly dreading getting up and going out some days. The prospect of facing another bitterly cold day filled with icy and/or snowy conditions was just overwhelming at times. So why did it bother me more this year than in the past?
I think it may be related to age and RA. With age comes some fears associated with ice - falling being the one that terrifies me the most. I have witnessed far too many folks that I serve suffering a catastrophic fall that sadly puts an end to their independence (if not their lives).
The fact is our balance is compromised as we age. Add to that the effects RA has on balance and it can translate into a paralyzing fear of going out in the winter. I have to say that fear has been slowly building for me over the last decade and now that I am 61 it has really blossomed. And of course this winter we had record snow falls and the cold temperatures led to more ice than usual as well.
We went two full months without the temperature getting above freezing this winter! So all told it added up to a less than enjoyable winter and one I am so glad is ending, making way for spring. One thing I have noticed is that as we move from one season to the next my RA seems to react. Having had this disease for nearly 20 years now and therefore 80 seasons, I can say with some confidence that as we shift from one season to the next, my RA also seems to "shift" right along with it. I find that I am much more likely to flare during those shifts. Often when I look back on the times my medications have begun to fail, it often starts at the launch of a new season. I am not at all sure why this is but I have speculated. Could it be because our bodies are already coping with the need to adapt to new temperatures thus placing it in a compromised place? The perfect environment for RA issues to rear their ugly heads. I wonder too if it could be due to the increase in colds/flues that accompany the change in seasons. I have had three colds this past year, each one as the season shifted. That really speaks volumes to me about the challenge of coping with season changes.
All that said, I simply cannot give up the beauty of 4 seasons. We hope, in retirement, to move to a more moderate climate, perhaps back to the mid-Atlantic region. But I cannot give up the beauty of summer, fall, winter and spring. I have chatted with others who live in a consistent climate and to be honest aside from the things I mentioned I don't think there is a significant difference in the severity of symptoms of RA.
So as I sit and gaze out my window at the final days of winter and the early stages of spring it makes me once again feel gratitude for the beauty of the 4 seasons and our decision to live in a part of the world that affords us that option. Wherever you live and whatever climate you are in, embrace the beauty that surrounds you.