Constantly Adjusting to Season Changes With Fibromyalgia
Hello, September. For the past week, I’ve been noticing more trees have started shedding their leaves, the golden-browns and reds bursting into life before settling on the grass. The temperature is slowly dropping; the evenings are closing in earlier and earlier. Summer is on its way out.
Autumn is one of my favorite seasons – while I love a bit of sun, I find the heat unbearable at times, thanks to the perimenopausal symptoms caused by my contraception and exacerbated by fibromyalgia. The constant hot flushes and the feeling of overheating can make the summer months – short though they are in England – pretty difficult for someone with a chronic illness. I also have a big problem with staying hydrated during summer, something my GP told me could also be put down to fibromyalgia.
By the end of August, I’m longing for the cooler nights, a brisk breeze, an excuse to wrap up in a blanket. Now we’re finally moving into autumn, my favorite time of the year can begin. Watery afternoon sunlight streaming through the blinds, a chill in the air. One of my favorite things to do is curl up on such a weekend, huddled into a comfy hoodie with a blanket thrown over my lap, and lose myself in a good book. I love the comfort food of the cooler months – beef stew, roast dinners, potato and leek soup. Good, homemade food that warms you from the inside out. I love watching TV dramas on darkening evenings, closing the curtains early and turning on the soft, comforting lamps. I love Halloween, and the run-up to Christmas – all the lights and markets, the Christmas music and the ridiculous jumpers.
But autumn isn’t all fun and games for me. I find it difficult to get out of bed when it’s still dark – maybe that’s just a personality trait, or maybe the combination of my medication and the dark mornings tricks my brain into wanting more sleep. I don’t know. What I do know is the dark mornings seem to last forever, once we move past October and into the depths of winter.
The rainy days can also be a challenge. You know when it feels like it’s been raining nonstop, and the cold seeps into your bones? It makes me more sluggish, less motivated. It just makes me want to stay in bed all day – which isn’t practical for many of us. The colder months also make going out more precarious. Slippery mud, icy paths – one trip and I can put myself back weeks, trigger a horrendous flare.
Each season presents its own challenges when you’re living with a chronic illness. In summer, it can get too hot; in winter, too cold. I know we Brits like to complain about the weather almost as much as we enjoy talking about the perfect cup of tea or queuing, but, just like most other aspects of life, living with a chronic illness can make things that little bit harder. The pain and fatigue fibromyalgia is known for can be worse when the weather starts to turn. Just as you feel like you’re getting used to the heat or the cold, the seasons change. It’s like a constant feeling of adapting to your surroundings, but you never fully get there.
Living with any kind of chronic illness always involves adjustment, whether it’s making changes to your home to make life easier, or introducing different foods into your diet, or just arming yourself with the things you need, and as we move out of summer and towards winter, I’ll need to start preparing, like a bear preparing for hibernation. Many people don’t understand these rituals we have to complete, in order to continue functioning as a “normal” human being, but we always seem to manage it, and, before we know it, spring will be around the corner.
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Thinkstock photo via Comstock.