The new normal for our summers are forest fires. I call them Mother Nature’s Flares, because they are both unpredictable and uncontrollable. All it takes is a random lightening strike on a humid summer night or the careless flick of a cigarette out the window. Fire season has started early this year with a dry spring as the perfect kindling. Whereas the summer season is the most destructive to our forests, it usually brings me much needed relief for the symptoms of RA – but there is always an exception and this year is it. This year, my joints are raging along with the burning forests.
One of the many challenges of living with RA is dealing with flares. It’s part of our everyday life living with inflammatory arthritis. The triggers that cause them are as diverse as the people who experience them. It could be stress, diet, too much activity, too little activity, and for some, the change of pressure from shifting weather systems.
While there is no scientific evidence that proves weather has any effect on arthritis, many report an increase in headaches and people with arthritis report an increase in flares when weather systems change. It makes sense to me that pressure changes affect our bodies to some extent – after all, our bodies are made mostly of water, and water shifts and flows with the wind, moon, and oceans.
For whatever reason, I found myself in a flare for about five days. The weather has been stormy, humid and erratic, but then so has my life. It’s been a very busy six months of work, school, theatre, workshops and social events. My “modus operandi” is usually to keep pushing through but I found I had to pause, take a break and implement some of my own self care.
We all have our own way of giving our body the respite it needs. I shared some of mine with Arthritis Research Canada’s summer newsletter:
Flares are a part of our disease. They are as unpredictable and erratic as forest fires. Sometimes we can feel one coming on and sometimes we just wake up with one, without any warning. We are sometimes the kindling to our own flares, but if we make self-care the first priority in our busy lives, we can be the ones to douse the flames.
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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.