The Burning Twilight (Summer Flares)

Summer Haze – Photo by J.G. Chayko

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.






  1. My Small Surrenders on June 24, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    I don’t have RA but I do live with chronic pain & my flare-ups are as unpredictable as you’ve described. For just over a week, I’ve also been coping (miserably) with a flare up & I’ve been unable to pinpoint the exact cause of it, which is always frustrating.
    I do agree with your theory that our bodies are affected by changes in the atmosphere around because in the past my migraines were triggered by changes in barometric pressure & were always at their worst during the spring & fall.

    I hope you’re having a better day today than you did yesterday 🧡

    • J.G. Chayko on June 30, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. Things have improved, as I hope they have for you. It certainly has been a very unsettled spring, and I hope the summer will bring us both a little more stability. Stay well.

      • My Small Surrenders on July 3, 2019 at 12:25 pm

        You’re welcome 🧡
        Kind words are the very least we can do for each other as we cope with our personal struggles.
        The excessive heat of the summer months can be unbearble but so far so good. I hope it stays as it is ;)🤞🍀

  2. Rick Phillips on June 24, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    That is a terribly beautiful sky. Beautiful because of the reds and oranges. Terrible because of why it has occurred. There must be a better way riding our world of the dead wood caused by climate change.

    • J.G. Chayko on June 30, 2019 at 12:05 pm

      Our summers have been filled with smoke from forest fires. It’s been very hard to watch our forests burn, but like having a chronic illness, it seems to be our new normal, and we just have to figure out a way to survive it. Stay well.

  3. phat50chick on June 25, 2019 at 4:37 am

    Thank you for this. I’ve been in one long flare this spring which is very unusual for me. Very damp spring, sick husband, stress at work and not enough self care. I appreciate your gentle words to remind me that this too shall pass

    • J.G. Chayko on June 30, 2019 at 12:04 pm

      It’s a bit crazy that we both are having an unusual flare, but I guess it goes to show how unpredictable RA can be, and all the different triggers that affect it. I hope you are feeling better, and here’s to a stress-free summer filled with wellness. Take care.

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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.