The Good and the Bad of Summer
When summer starts, it’s time to fire up the grill, bust out the sunscreen and dig out the bathing suit because the pools open this weekend. We all look forward to enjoying our yards, sunny weekend day trips and fun summer festivals. These are my favorite parts of summer: the cookouts, the festivals and enjoying the pool on a particularly hot day.
But the part of summer I don’t look forward to is the Baltimore/DC area humidity. The mugginess that’s so thick, you feel like you can cut the air with a knife, and that first step outside the doors of my office building are like walking into a wall. Actually, in Baltimore, I can start to feel the humidity around March, and I won’t feel the relief until after October. Today it’s 81 degrees, and the sky has been waiting to burst into a thunderstorm all day. I knew it as soon as I woke up this morning. For some reason, hot and humid weather makes my joints go crazy, and transitioning from air conditioning to the outdoors plays havoc with me. The Memorial Day weekend is when I start wishing for winter again"or at least to find a job in Minnesota or Maine. I daydream of moving to Canada or maybe somewhere exotic like Finland.
I know I shouldn’t complain, it isn’t nearly as humid here as places like Miami, Atlanta and Houston. I couldn’t imagine ever living farther south than I do now. They are nice places to visit as long as the ocean or a pool is nearby, but my elbows quickly tell me it’s time to go home. I don’t know how much of my heat intolerance is from my arthritis and how much is the fact that I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. It gets humid there, but not like this.
Most people I talk to say that they don’t like the cold and the snow. The cold, damp rainy fall is misery to others with RA or osteoarthritis. They flock to the warm weather, be it the dry heat of Arizona or the humidity of Florida. Arizona is OK. I manage fine in dry weather. But they think I’m crazy for loving the cold and snow. I love it because I can actually jog in the winter without my knees swelling up like grapefruits. In the winter, I don’t lose sleep at night and shift around in my office chair all day because my hips hurt. If softball leagues ran in the winter, I’d be the first to sign up. But until that happens, or I move back to Cleveland or some other nice wintery place, I will continue to daydream of January days of cross-country skiing as I make the best of the Maryland summer weather.
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Christine Miller wrote about rheumatoid arthritis as a Patient Expert for HealthCentral. She was diagnosed at 16 months old with polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and has gone through the ebbs and flows of disease activity — many medications, much time spent in physical and occupational therapy, surgeries, and periods of relative remission.