Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Word about the Weather

Have you ever heard someone say that they can tell when a front is coming in?  Perhaps you are one of those people.  I am.  For many years now, I have had various symptoms that can range from something as "mild" as an antsy feeling, to feeling like I have a stomach flu, with nausea, muscle aches and headache. I noticed that certain symptoms predict certain types of weather.  For example, if my knees started to ache really bad, that usually happened before a snow storm.

The common factor, though, was that once the front finally arrived, I felt better.  The tension would cease, or the pain would subside, and I would feel tons better.

One theory that I have heard about the joint pain, is that as the pressure changes, the pressure changes in our joints, and that is why there is pain.  This made sense to me, but I found out something interesting.  After I learned about trigger points and started to work them on a fairly regular basis, instead of feeling the pain in the joints when a front came in, I felt pain in the muscles that referred to those joints.  For example, instead of feeling pain in my knees, I felt pain in my thigh muscles.  Instead of feeling pain in my bones of my lower back, I felt pain in the muscles of my buttocks.

This piqued my interest.  I did a lot of research on the Internet, trying to learn about what happens when the weather pressure changes.

I wondered if the changes in the electromagnetic field might have something to do with it.  Years ago, when my husband worked for a large software company, I noticed that I could not visit him at his office for very long because of all of the computers (with CRT monitors).  That environment seemed to suck the energy out of me and I could hardly function by the time I had been there for 15 minutes or so.

I also remembered that once, when a salesperson demonstrated a whole-house air cleaner that when he turned on a particular feature--I think it was an ionizer or de-ionizer, but I honestly can't remember--I got a headache, almost immediately, and that headache went away after he turned it off.

But, I could not find much on electrical fields.  I learned that night and day, and summer and winter have different configurations.  But I could not find a way to measure these differences at home to see if they were having an effect.  And I could not find a website that kept track of this kind of information.

For now, I have had to be satisfied with knowing that changes in my body are associated with changes in the barometric pressure.

To learn more about how this affected me, I first charted a week's worth of symptoms.  Then I went to a website that has information for the past two weeks of weather.  This is Time and Here is the link, if you are interested: (Go to Weather.  Then click on Past Week.  You can put in your specific location, or a location that is near to you.  The barometric pressure information will show up when you click on the Detailed List link.) I compared my symptoms to the weather and noticed a very strong correlation, which was, of course, no surprise.

Next, I kept a record for a few days of how I was feeling at various times and I recorded the barometric pressure at that time.  (We have a portable weather station...)  At this stage, I was interested in noting specifics.  Was I feeling worse at the time that the pressure started to drop after it had been steady?  Was it the absolute value of the pressure, or was it how far and how fast the pressure was dropping that was affecting me?  Were there different symptoms associated with each phase?   I kept a chart by the weather station and marked the information down whenever I was feeling symptomatic.

I am still fine-tuning this understanding, and it may be that there are other factors that determine what type of symptom I have.

Next, I found a really great app for my iPad (It is also available for iPhone, Windows Phone, Android, Blackberry, and WebOS HP Touchpad).  It is called WeatherPro by MeteoGroup. Here is the link if you are interested:   WeatherPro  It costs about $5.00.  It says it has information for over two million locations in the world.  It has four general areas:  Weather, Radar, Satellite, and Maps.  In the weather section, it has an eight-day forecast, with several categories, including barometric pressure.  It is charted in a graph form, and you can see the whole week at a glance.  It is fairly easy to pinpoint about what time during the day the barometric pressure will dip, bottom out, go up, etc.

I have compared it with the actual readings that happen here, and it is very reliable.

The next thing that I have done is to use the forecast as a tool to help me plan what I will do and to give me perspective when I am in a symptomatic period.

For example, if I know that there is going to be a huge drop in the barometric pressure, I will realize that I may not be able to do much of anything, and so perhaps I need to plan some down time, something I can do while lying down with my feet up, if need be.  I can also plan to work trigger points before hand, and, if needed, take ibuprofen to lessen the severity of the symptoms (kind of like taking ibuprofen before going to the dentist).

If I see that the barometric pressure is going to change in the afternoon on a particular day, I might try to get important chores taken care of at the beginning of the day, so that I will not be agonizing over how much I did not get done later.  My rest period will occur at a natural time and will coincide with the time I would not be able to do much anyway.

If it is a moderate drop, I often feel antsy, so I might plan something active to do during that time.  It is not a good time to sit and read.  If I do that, I will find myself constantly going into the kitchen and opening the cupboard, looking for that item that has the perfect combination of chewy and crunchy without being too sweet or too savory.  So, I might plan on vacuuming, exercising, yard work, or anything else that will help to get that restless energy channeled.  (Last time, I made homemade bread and cinnamon rolls... the family liked that.:)

I have noticed that if it is a steeper drop in pressure, I usually have more pain.  I may have to just muddle my way through, taking pain medication and trying to distract myself.  But, for me, it also helps to see that the pressure is going to head back up in an hour or so.  Or, if I know that it going to last longer, I can tell myself that this is the perfect time to watch those shows that I have wanted to watch.

I think it is better to avoid the computer because of the tension that typically builds up when we are on the computer.  If we are typing, our head, neck, shoulders, arms and hands, are continually tense, along with any part of the body that is positioning itself just right for us to balance the laptop (knees) or to reach the floor (feet in tiptoed position).  I find that it is better to do something that is pleasant and distracting, in a position where your entire body is supported comfortably.  You don't want to add any more tension.  But, it might be different for you, so do what relaxes you.

I have noticed that sometimes when the pressure goes quite high, I get migraines.  I am still monitoring that aspect.  My migraines are also very affected by my hormones.  (One thing that I am very happy about, since learning about and using trigger point therapy, when I do get headaches, if I cannot relieve them by using trigger point therapy, I can at least treat most of them now with ibuprofen.  Nothing worked before.)

One thing about these pains is that they eventually go away.  I love having the chart that tells me about when they are heading out. I suppose it makes me feel more in control of my situation.

I am also interested to see how things will change as I continue to work my trigger points.  Right now, I can feel pretty good, and a front will come in and I will feel like I have been attacked.  But, as I mentioned above, the nature of the attack has changed.  It is now in the muscles that refer pain to the bones that I feel it.  I wonder if this pain will lessen over time as I get those trigger points more under control or if it will stay the same.  My hope is that the pain will lessen.  Time will tell.

In the meantime, I am very grateful for the techniques, devices, and medicines that help me over these rough spots and help me to be able to enjoy my journey.

1 comment:

  1. As someone who moved to a cold, damp climate, I started having a lot of "joint" pain but there is not really anything wrong with my joints, it is the trigger points. I've thought a lot about this as I have gone through the seasons a few times and paying attention to my body and I have a theory, fwiw. Cold makes your muscles tighten up. If you have trigger points in them, that tightness is going to put a stretch on the trigger points and instigate pain. Secondly, a muscle that is both tightened from cold and tight with trigger points puts a strain on joints, so eventually the joints do start to have trouble. That's my theory anyway!
    I'm enjoying your blog.