Well, it is time once again for the season to change, and that means that more than just the leaves turning different colors, at least for me. Depending on what season is coming and what season is going, my body responds in different ways. Of course the changing of the season affects many people who are just as healthy as the next person. People who suffer from diseases such as mine, though, get affected in a much more profound way.

Changes in weather have always been rumored to seriously affect the joints of people who suffer from Arthritis, but the change of seasons is something a bit different. While the day to day changes in barometric pressure might affect joint health (the jury is still out on that one), seasons changing are much broader. When the average temperature and humidity change for good, it tends to change disease behavior on a much more permanent scale. Right now, we are about to transition from summer to winter, which comes with a cooling of average temperature. While pressure changes may or may not affect joints, the cold certainly does.

The Holidays and the winter months are always fun for me, with family always around, and many excuses to attend get-togethers. It is also a time when, on the whole, my Arthritis tends to be less noticeable

When joints get inflamed and become active with disease, the joints heat up due to the sheer amount of activity taking place inside the joint itself. This activity creates energy, which produces heat, and so on. You get the idea. Because of this, usually one of the remedies is to use ice to remove some of the heat, thus cutting the amount of energy in the entire system. It does work, actually, and ice has saved me from pain many times.

Keeping this in mind, you may think that the cold would be good for my joints. Well, in moderation, it is. Unfortunately, Jack Frost does not know the meaning of the word moderation. You see, when joints get too cold, just like anything else, things begin to slow down. At lower temperatures, matter tends to move a lot slower, and joints are no exception. Simply put, when joints get cold, they don’t move very well at all.

For me, my knees are especially affected by this problem. There are even times when my knees completely seize during the night. By the time I awaken, I can barely make it to the bathroom, where I use my hair dryer to unfreeze my knees. I know this sounds implausible, but it’s true. My Conair is a lifesaver. You may be thinking “Oh that’s baloney, human parts can’t freeze.” All I can say is: Why not? They are made of the same materials as everything else in the world. It’s one of the laws of thermodynamics (I think), and it holds true here – cold slows things down.

This is only one example of how temperate plays a major part in a disease like Rheumatoid Arthritis. Physical affectation is not the only aspect of how shifting seasons can affect RA and other diseases. There is a mental component as well.

When the seasons change, there is always a slight feeling of joy or sadness, depending on each individual’s own mental predispositions. Personally, I enjoy the colder seasons, but there is a great many of you who get depressed when the weather turns frigid. It’s actually a recognized disease called Seasonal Depression. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that particular ailment, as I always have a reason to be depressed. I simply do not let it get to me very often, as you know.

The Holidays and the winter months are always fun for me, with family always around, and many excuses to attend get-togethers. It is also a time when, on the whole, my Arthritis tends to be less noticeable. If I get sick during the winter or one of my joints is swollen and misshaped, it is much easier to hide it. Not to mention the ease of hiding my horrible-looking body under piles of sweaters and jackets. It does make things much easier on the mind. Winter and cold weather is actually of great relief to me, mentally. No more worrying about things I cannot cover up.

The summer months are what cause me the most anguish. As most people do, my friends tend to participate in athletic activities and outdoor when the weather is pleasant. This, of course, is something I cannot do on a regular basis – in fact, very rarely. Some of you have a milder disease case where activity is possible in moderation. Unfortunately, I do not. I frequently get tired of making excuses why I’m not out on the beach volleyball court with everyone else.

It’s hard to say which is worse, to be honest. The physical aspect of the disease, and the real pain and suffering that come along with it, are certainly a force to be reckoned with. When my knees literally freeze near-solid during the night, it makes for a painful day after. Then again, when the summer months come around, and I know I won’t be able to keep up physically with the activities that most of my friends take part in, this weighs very heavily on me. How could I ever chose which issue is harder to deal with? The way I see it, the change of season is just another aspect of the disease that I deal with on a regular basis. At least when December and January roll around, I get presents on Christmas and for my birthday. Maybe this year I’ll ask for some knee-warmers.

-Dan