Monday, November 18, 2013

Changing Seasons and Blood Pressure

People often ask me whether my symptoms get better in Summer. I think this idea probably comes from the common belief that people with osteo-arthritis only get joint pain in the cold or when it rains. I'm not really sure if there's any truth to this for osteo-arthritis; it certainly isn't true for forms autoimmune arthritis, but still the common belief lives on. My answer to the question varies, depending on how well I know the person asking, and if I think they're really interested or just making conversation. The honest answer? Some things get better in summer, some things get worse, but overall I don't think my condition has ever been stable for long enough for me to say for sure whether it's the season or something else making a difference.

I'm sure many meteorologists will disagree with this statement, but in my opinion New Zealand only has two seasons. We go straight from winter into summer (then sometimes back again the next day.) In Wellington it's windy all year around, and it's not that uncommon for people to get hayfever all year not just in Summer. 

The worst times for me tend to be the points of season-change. I somehow manage to be surprised by the weather change every year, and find myself completely unprepared. In Summer balancing long sleeves for sun-protection against not getting over-heated, usually leaves me one kind of sick or another, and going into winter I just about always find myself in the middle of Raynaud's or asthma attacks at least once after going out without adequately warm clothing.

A few weeks ago, I "blood pressured" myself by forgetting that when it's hot I need to be a bit more careful about managing my low blood pressure and low electrolytes. I got straight out of bed, reached up to take the clothes peg holding my curtains together down... and woke up on the floor a bit later. It was stupid and totally avoidable, so after a chat to the lovely ambulance staff (yep, had to press the medical alarm) I stuck this up beside my bed: 

This is the first thing I see in the morning, and so far following it is working. I've decided the "official" name for my blood pressure issues is loop-de-loop blood pressure as the problems come from it dropping sharply when I stand up, then over-compensating into the high range after a few seconds, causing short-lived but blinding headaches. Following this routine and taking things slowly helps it to stay a bit more on the level. On bad days, I have to switch tap water for electrolyte water and add in some black coffee (which personally I can't stand!) but all in all the floor and I have managed to keep our distance from each other.

Thanks for reading,
Little Miss Autoimmune

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