I am writing you from my 83-degree house, where I am fighting a respiratory infection and laryngitis. I know I shouldn’t complain When it's hot and you're notabout the weather in sunny Southern California, but Jiminy Christmas, Holy Toledo, and Jesus, Mary and Joseph, it is HOT. I moved away from Houston, Texas so I would have ocean breezes at my beck and call. Thank you Mother Nature, for reminding me that I can have a very well thought-out plan and life will always take a detour! (And that my next house, no matter how close to the beach, must have central air conditioning!)

It’s important to take extra precautions when you are sick with arthritis and you (a) have a respiratory infection and/or (b) it’s hotter than Hades outside. So if you find yourself in this predicament, perhaps these reminders will help you.

  • Both situations require us arthritic animals to seek out water—tall glasses of ice water, cool baths, and a dip in the pool if you are lucky. Ice packs and cool washcloths are also helpful to keep your body temperature low. Don’t wait to get too hot. On a normal day, I aim to drink 100 ounces of water and it’s imperative during the hotter months. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water and be careful with the caffeine. Get a sprinkler, a Slip n’ Slide or a small pool. Or find a local public pool. If you’re like me and worry about spreading your cold, use ice packs to cool down your neck and back. (Be careful with your hands if you have Reynaud’s.)
  • A respiratory infection and the heat can also kill your appetite, so take in nutrition in the simplest ways you can, such as a smoothie, water-based fruits and veggies (cucumber, celery, grapes), and quick snacks like string cheese. Seek out popsicles and Slurpees!
  • Since I have laryngitis, I’ve been using a personal steam inhaler to speed healing and soothe my throat. But since it’s hot steam, I only use it first thing in the morning or later in the evening when the house is cool.
  • Take breaks. Our bodies don’t respond well to heat, so slow things down and take breaks every 30-60 minutes. The only race you need to win is staying alive and staying out of the hospital! (And for God’s sake, don’t do what I did and use your heating pad during a heat wave!)
  • Ask for help! Since I can’t speak right now, I’ve asked my boyfriend to do a few extra things like calling to cancel my physical therapist appointment.
  • Seek out short-term solutions. My boyfriend bought a portable air conditioner for our bedroom so we can sleep at night.
  • Go easy on the fitness regime. It’s never a good idea to lay off the workouts entirely, but this is the time to do a yoga video in the evening or take a walk really late at night. Likewise, go easy on the heavy lifting and chores. This is the time to delay, defer and delegate.
  • Be mindful of how your body is behaving. If your heart is beating extra fast or you feel nauseated, this might be a clue that you are overheating or your cold is turning into something more. 
  • Stay out of the sun and do not go outside between 10am – 6pm. I’ve learned that over the years that lupus makes me sensitive to both UV rays and extreme heat, so accept that you may go stir crazy for a few days.
  • Plan an exit strategy. When it’s crazy hot, you may need to seek refuge at a movie theater, your air-conditioned office, the library or a hotel for a few days. Plan ahead so you can be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Heat waves in SoCal are usually accompanied by strong winds and fire danger, so I’m ready to go if we have a blackout. 
  • If your voice is your “money-maker” and you lose it, what do you do? Now is the time to focus on research, writing, email, and all those other tasks you can take care of without talking. 
  • Be sure someone knows where you are and checks in periodically.
  • Remember “this too shall pass” and cherish the moment when your voice returns and you can feel a cool breeze.

Good luck as the summer heat approaches, and may you all be cool and healthy!