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Why Winters Are Hard With Psoriatic Arthritis

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I think snow is beautiful. The lovely, fluffy blanket adorning my front lawn is pure joy to the three beagles that romp and push their small, wriggling snow-plow snouts in intersecting lines.  There’s no denying the crisp, clean air. There’s also no denying my wish to be in warmer, more humid weather. If you have psoriatic arthritis, the last thing you want to do is make snow angels. Just imagine “The Wizard of Oz’s” Tin Man. It wouldn’t move all that well in cold temperatures and would also be subject to patches of rust over the course of the winter. Me too.

It isn’t that it’s unbearable. It’s not. But neighbors and friends waggle a finger at me, tease me about being a bit of a Grinch. They also don’t understand how pounding the pavement throughout the heat and humidity of July and August doesn’t seem to phase me in the least. We’re just different is all.

In the winter, a whole house humidifer and a high output portable model in my bedroom isn’t enough to raise the humidity to that sticky, greenhouse jungle range my skins adores.  In protest, my body creaks and groans in the morning, objecting to the flight of stairs required. It protests through blooms of small, circular patches here and there that rub just the wrong way against anything other than my teenage son’s hand-me-town cotton tees that have been laundered countless times.

In desperation, I bought a tanning bed. Haters don’t hate – I’m not using it to “keep my tan.” And I’m not advocating that anyone else use one, and I do use sunscreen where I can, but that quick 10 minutes of UV gives my skin the fix it needs to lessen its protests. Yes, I’m still using my medications, but for most folks with psoriatic arthritis, there isn’t a single method of attack. Fake sunshine (in moderation) is in my toolbox along with methotrexate, enbrel, and folic acid.

So I leave the snowboarding to my son and husband. The result?  I can bundle up in winter clothes and enjoy the crisp, clean air as I walk the beagles through snowy streets. But I’m happiest when the weather breaks, like it has these past few days, and I can feel the sun directly on my skin and the warmth in my bones, and know that warmer weather is not too far off.

It’s not that I hate snow, we’re just different is all.

Thinkstock photo by Ingram Publishing

Originally published: February 19, 2017
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