It's Autumn and my fibromyalgia exists on the edge of a potential flare-up. It took four years before it really hit me how much the changing of the seasons, from Spring and Summer to Fall and Winter, affects my functioning. While the rest of the country will probably resent me for complaining about the weather in "sunny and warm Southern California," I hope my fellow Chronic Babes and fibromites will understand.
Contrary to popular belief, we do have seasons here. We don't get a lot of rain this time of year, but we do get a good dose of cooler temperatures. Our Autumn consists of warm days (in the 60's and 70's) and cold nights (in the 40's and 50's), punctuated by the occasional daytime mini-heatwave or nighttime mini-cold snap. Living close to the coast like I do, there are the occasional damp, foggy nights and mornings as well. Autumn also corresponds to fire season, especially when the dreaded Santa Ana winds start blowing hot air over the Summer-parched landscape from the Inland Empire towards the Pacific Ocean.
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I've discovered that it's all this bouncing up and down of the mercury in the thermometer on a daily basis that makes my symptoms worse. In the past 24 hours, the temperature in the house alone has gone from 67 to 73 and back to 67 degrees. My body right now is not happy. Apparently it likes consistency in temperature, most probably because dysautonomia makes it difficult for me to regulate my response to temperature changes. It appears that going from hot to warm is OK, but going from warm to cool is not.
So paying more attention this year, I have learned that around sunset I need to start wearing a scarf around my neck to counteract the chill in the air that goes straight to my neck. It seems that my neck is a weak link in my chain of pain. This makes sense in light of the recent discovery that I have thoracic outlet syndrome in addition to fibromyalgia. If I am diligent about putting my scarf on, I can reduce the increase in neck pain I have been experiencing each evening since Fall rolled around.
We are fortunate to have added central heat and air to our home about nine years ago, a convenience that wasn't originally installed in our 1949 house. We use these appliances, but try to do so sparingly and judiciously so as not to incur huge gas and electric bills. Right now it is hard to convince my husband to use the heat because it really hasn't gotten that cold yet. At least I have convinced him not to let the overnight low go much below 67. Anything colder and the air that comes through my CPAP machine makes my nose cold and uncomfortable.
I guess this is a long winded way of saying that since I started living with chronic illnesses, I've become much more aware of the weather and its effects on my body. Spring and Summer are my body's favorites, Fall and Winter not so much. So if you see me out and about in a tee shirt and winter scarf, just know it is my way of staving off a potential fibro flare-up.