Sally Borst, blogger and “Galloping Grandma”, shares with us her account of “How to cope with winter weather.” (Sally lives with severe rheumatoid arthritis, plus osteoarthritis).
Here in South West Ireland after a balmy autumn with hardly a drop of rain, we have suddenly been plunged into winter with icy frosts and wind straight from the Arctic, and our local mountains are covered in snow. So I thought it timely to come up with suggestions as to how to cope with your RA and the cold.
It goes without saying that you should dress warmly, preferably in several layers as this traps and warms air between the layers from your body heat. Trousers and thick socks are fine for me, but if you wear skirts, then warm woolly tights will keep your legs snug. I have difficulty putting on socks so I tend to wear Ugg boots that don’t require any socks as they are full of sheep wool and can be pulled on easily.
For outside a woolly hat, gloves or mittens. Gloves can also be layered to keep your sore hands really cosy, and a warm scarf can keep your neck and the bottom part of your face warm too! I also have neoprene mittens which are brilliant and can be worn under gloves. It’s really important in cold weather to keep hydrated, or your system will rapidly cool down. So lots of water and possibly (like me) a hot port of an evening! If possible try to drink warm water and apply this also to the outside of your body by lazing in a hot bath or swimming in a heated pool.
Swimming is excellent exercise and even if you have chronic pain it is vital to exercise in some manner. Walking at whatever pace you can manage is really good for you and if you have two enthusiastic dogs like me, give in to their pleading looks and go for a stroll. I can’t walk very far, after my two feet operations, but I try to go a couple of yards further each day. Also, I find just getting around the house keeps me active or walking around the shopping mall when we go to Killarney.
It’s really important to watch you don’t slip on icy pavements or drives. Get someone to put down salt on the ground where you walk most often and make sure you have good treads on your supportive footwear. I have Fell walking boots that lace up around my ankles. Difficult to get in or out of without a lovely husband like mine, but well worth the effort.
I take Omega 3, and a Glucosamine-Chondroitin supplement daily which seems to help me, and certainly cannot harm. Everyone is always full of helpful advice as to what supplements to take, but I think different things work for different people and if a supplement seems to help, then take it.
Finally, there is a lot of debate as to whether people with RA (or even just arthritis) can foretell if a cold spell is coming – something to do with barometric pressure – that will set off a flare up. I definitely ‘feel it in my joints’ when the weather is about to change. The best advice I can give you on this is to immediately book a long holiday somewhere warm where you can laze in the sun, drink long cool drinks and swim off the beach in warm water – and, oh yes, a stroll down the beach at the water’s edge with your feet in the warm sand will do you a power of good as well!
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