Sunday, July 31, 2011

Humidity Is My Kryptonite

Undoubtedly the best part of writing this blog has been connecting with so many incredible people. If you'd like to know more about them, take a look back on all 20 spotlights written thus far. While it saddens me that these friends also cope with pain and illness, there is tremendous strength when we all come together. I see these relationships as a crucial silver lining to living with chronic illness. I'm now part of this extraordinary circle; a group committed to sharing our stories, spreading awareness, and instilling a vital sense of hope and belonging in each other. Because of their honesty and empathy, my experience is normalized. For the first time in my life, I'm reminded every day that I'm not alone.

I've connected with many of these friends on Facebook, and lately I've seen many comments about the humidity. Unless you're living with an autoimmune disease, you may never understand the impact that weather patterns can have on the body. I've joked that I could be the world's best weather forecaster because, as a storm develops or humidity builds, my joints announce it loud and clear.  I've never been more sure of that fact as I was last week. The humidity was at an all-time high in our area and suddenly my pain returned. It was deep, burning pain and, for the first time, I noticed swelling throughout my body (mainly in my legs). Prior to this week, my health was stable, my pain was low, and I felt grateful for this relief. I still pray daily that my Orencia infusions keeps working like it has, but even Orencia isn't a match for the weather this summer.

More than ever, I'm sure that humidity is my kryptonite...yep, I'm talking about the same radio-active element that can defeat Superman. This may seem dramatic, but humidity truly has a crippling effect on me. Last weekend, for example, John and I (finally) enjoyed a lazy morning together. I was feeling well throughout the morning, so when he suggested walking to a nearby diner for brunch, I didn't think twice. However, as soon as we stepped outside of our air conditioned apartment, my joints quickly retaliated. With each step, the pain intensified and spread. When we made it halfway down our street, my knees and ankles were aching and becoming increasingly stiff. By the time we reached the diner, I was holding onto John for support and struggled to climb even a few stairs into the building. I've never flared up that quickly and it was pretty shocking to both of us.

This experience brought back to a time when my pain was unrelenting, and it definitely threw me for a loop. I started silently panicking and fighting the "blues", wondering if perhaps my medicine was failing again. I needed some reassurance and my friends were there. They reminded me that, no matter how bad I was feeling, there would soon be better days. They shared their own struggles and filled me with hope; something that all-too-quickly dissipates when I'm in pain. Thank you all for being there.

How have you guys been feeling this summer? What makes your pain worse and what makes it better? I know it's tough dealing with the uncertainty, but through the ups and the downs, the summer and the winter, take comfort in the fact that you're never alone.


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