My AxSpA Weatherman
It’s raining again, I think to myself.
I peek out the window and sure enough, there’s a downpour.
I don’t need to see rain in the forecast, I can feel it.
To quote Tiesto, “I feel it in my bones.”
AxSpA is my weatherman.
100% chance of rain
It began by seemingly random spikes in pain. Gradually, I began to notice a correlation between the pain spikes and the weather. The bigger the weather system, the bigger the pain spike I feel.
A few weeks ago, I was on a group bike ride on some fun nearby cross-country mountain bike trails. We were climbing a fairly extensive hill and halfway up my lower back and hips started seizing up. Uh oh.
After grinding to the top, I got off my bike and started stretching to try and ease the pain. The group leader looked at me concerned, “Are you okay?” he said. I looked back at him and said, “it’s going to rain.”
There wasn’t yet a cloud in the sky. The group looked at me like I was completely bonkers. My interpretation of the looks I received was along the lines of, "this guy is blaming his lack of fitness in climbing this hill to non-existent weather?"
Sure enough, five minutes or so passed, and over the horizon came storm clouds.
More rain, more pain
There have been other moments throughout the summer when thunderstorm warnings were issued, but I knew the storm wasn’t coming. Anecdotally, it seems to occur whenever there is a change in barometric pressure, a shift in the atmosphere above me.
My muscles stiffen, particularly in my thighs, hips, and lower back, and I feel skeletal pain which will vary in range and intensity depending on the weather pattern. The more aggressive the storm, the more intense the pain seems to be. Thunderstorms with high winds are the most difficult to bear.
There is often nothing to do other than wait and literally weather the storm.
Weathering the storm
I’ve tried various coping mechanisms to little success. Additional stretching is not particularly helpful for me in these moments as my muscles will stiffen back up as soon as I release the stretch.
I will use a combination of ice and heat therapy to minimize the pain, but for me, I find it more beneficial to wait until the weather has passed before trying to reduce my pain levels and alleviate stiffness.
My favorite coping mechanism during storms is to slow life down. It’s the perfect time to cozy up for a movie night with some comfort food – soup and grilled cheese anyone?
While most of the time I try and attack AxSpA with movement, rainy or stormy weather is my major exception.
Occasionally, it occurs in moments when cozying up isn’t an option. Life continues despite the pain, but even in those moments, I make sure to slow down. When pain flares, my cognition and dexterity diminish. I must act accordingly to my condition.
Who needs a weatherman? AxSpA does it for me.
Can you tell when a flare is coming?