Summer took a long time to arrive, and when it did, it swept in with a fleeting intensity, fueling the forest fires, stripping the emerald hue from the grass and charming us with magnificent sunsets and glittering meteor showers. Now the whispers of fall tarnish the leaves with red and orange hues before releasing them from their boughs; bears creep down from the mountains, ambling into neighborhoods to stock up for their seasonal slumber, and skies are filled with the familiar “V” of geese heading south to re-establish their winter homes. The once fair mornings are now dressed in the glittering dew of autumn; the air crackles with cold electricity, popping the leaves as they drift towards the ground; clear skies are speckled with white puffy clouds casting ghostly shadows over the ground and the burn in my joints ignite with the red dusk, signalling the end of another season.
September is arthritis awareness month, and nothing makes me more aware of my disease then when the wet days of fall douse the comforting warmth of summer, reawakening the swollen joints of wintertime. Shorter days, damp temperatures and reduced sunlight alter the pattern to which I have become accustomed. On a dreary afternoon I lie on my bed, an ice pack cooling the burn of my hands, napping away the worst part of my flare. I drift in and out of muddled dreams with blazing sunsets and lava flows. The sharp squawking of a blue jay outside my window barely penetrates the haze of my fatigue. These are the days that hit like a lightning strike, consume my energy, scattering the ash to the wind.
It is that time to ride out the swell of transition, as one season passes to another – like the seasonal change of Mother Earth, RA also has its seasons – there is a winter, a spring, a summer and a fall; it blooms and sleeps, burns and cools, storms and calms. The seasons of RA, however, have no rhyme or reason. It’s not surprising that flares will crop up without warning while my body takes time to adjust to the new cycle of RA and the weather – but I’m confident that once it does, my seasonal flares will evaporate like the fairy mists of an early dawn, leaving me to enjoy brisk mornings and haunted twilights, crimson leaves and silver skies, crackling fires and harvest moons.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.